The College Adjustment Test (CAT)

Author of Tool: 

Pennebaker, J.W

Key references: 

Pennebaker, J.W., Colder, M., & Sharp, L.K. (1990). Accelerating the coping process. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 528-537.

Primary use / Purpose: 

A measure of coping in relation to freshmen's college adjustment.


Major life events can affect all aspects of one's functioning, including moods, eating habits, physical health, motivation levels, social behaviors, and even views about oneself. What is un-clear is whether individuals can voluntarily alter their approaches to life events and, thereby, reduce their deleterious 
effects. The implications of the personality, stage, and inhibition-confrontation models for accelerating the coping processes in relation to college adjustment in freshmen is what the College Adjustment Test (CAT) measures. The 19-item survey achieves this by tapping the degree to which students have experienced various thoughts and feelings about coming to college during the previous week.


On the basis of two samples of 287 and 260 entering college students, the internal consistency of the scale is acceptable, Cronbach alpha = .79. Two-month test-retest with 196 introductory college students was good, r = .65.



Digital Object Identifier (DOI):