Split-Half Methodology

One way to test the reliability of a test is to repeat the test. This is not always possible. Another approach, which is applicable to questionnaires, is to divide the test into even and odd questions and compare the results.

Example 1: 12 students take a test with 50 questions. For each student the total score is recorded along with the sum of the scores for the even questions and the sum of the scores for the odd question as shown in Figure 1. Determine whether the test is reliable by using the split-half methodology.

Split-half methodology

Figure 1 – Split-half methodology for Example 1

The statistical test consists of looking at the correlation coefficient (cell G3 of Figure 1). If it is high then the questionnaire is considered to be reliable.

r = CORREL(C4:C15,D4:D15) = 0.667277

One problem with the split-half reliability coefficient is that since only half the number of items is used the reliability coefficient is reduced.  To get a better estimate of the reliability of the full test, we apply the Spearman-Brown correction, namely:

Spearman-Brown correction

This result shows that the test is quite reliable.

Real Statistics Functions: The Real Statistics Resource Pack contains the following supplemental functions:

SPLIT_HALF(R1, R2) = split half coefficient (after Spearman-Brown correction) for data in ranges R1 and R2

SPLITHALF(R1, type) = split-half measure for or the scores in the first half of the items in R1 vs. the second half of the items if type = 0 and the odd items in R1 vs. the even items if type = 1.

The SPLIT_HALF function ignores any empty cells and cells with non-numeric values. This is no so for the SPLITHALF function.

For Example 1, SPLIT_HALF(C4:C15, D4:D15) = .800439.

Example 2: Calculate the split half coefficient of the ten question questionnaire using a Likert scale (1 to 7) given to 15 people whose results are shown in Figure 2.

Split-half data

Figure 2 – Data for Example 2

We first split the questions into the two halves: Q1-Q5 and Q6-Q10, as shown in Figure 3.

Split-half test

Figure 3 – Split-half coefficient (Q1-Q5 v. Q6-Q10)

E.g. the formula in cell B23 is =SUM(B4:F4) and the formula in cell C23 is =SUM(G4:K4). The coefficient 0.64451 (cell H24) can be calculated as in Example 1. Alternatively, the coefficient  can be calculated by the worksheet formula =SPLIT_HALF(B23,B37,C23:C37) or =SPLITHALF(B4:K18,0).

We can also split the questionnaire into odd and even questions, as shown in Figure 4.

Split-half odd-even

Figure 4 – Split-half coefficient (odd v. even)

E.g. the formula in cell L23 is =B4+D4+F4+H4+J4 and the formula in cell M23 is =C4+E4+G4+I4+K4. The coefficient 0.698813 (cell R24) can be calculated as in Example 1. Alternatively, the coefficient  can be calculated by the supplemental formula =SPLIT_HALF(L23,L37,M23:M37) or =SPLITHALF(B4:K18,1).

24 Responses to Split-Half Methodology

  1. Jairo says:

    Big help, thank you!

  2. Parto says:

    Hi, Thank you very much for a very helpful article. I have downloaded The Real Statistics Resource Pack to my Excel. However, it doesn`t have SPLIT_HALF function. Any suggestions?
    Thanks and kind regards

  3. Groover says:

    Hi Charles,
    Any thoughts how to calculate Spearmann-brown for Likert 5 point scale answers? How to split the answers?

    Thank you very much

    • Charles says:

      The calculation is exactly the same as described in the referenced page. You can split the questions by odd-even as described on the referenced webpage or first half of the questions vs. second half of the questions. It is important to decide on which approach to use in advance and not after you have seen the results (which are likely to be different); alternatively you can report on both approaches.

  4. Tjang Kian Liong says:

    Consice and clear. It is a great help for me. Thank you very much.

  5. Dwipta Dey says:

    Thanks for this clear and concise explanation. Can I use the rank order method to calculate the r ? Is it good enough to establish the reliability of a structured knowledge questionnaire?

    • Charles says:

      I would guess that it depends on the motivation you have for using the rank order correlation (i.e. Spearman’s rho) instead of the Pearson’s r.

  6. JISHA says:


    R1 : 1, 8, 3, 7, 5, 10, 4, 6, 2, 9
    R2 : 1, 8, 4, 7, 5, 9, 3, 6, 2, 10

  7. Iqra Aazmat says:

    Thank you very much for giving very much clear concept! i got the idea about split- half reliability.

  8. Ratul dad says:

    Thank u sir. I have been benifited. I m ever heart to u sir

  9. ajecus says:

    sir, is this a tool used for item analysis? the reliability of an item?
    asap reply is much appreciated.

  10. Karisa Walker says:

    Great information! Is it possible to get a reliable score using the split half method with just a 10 questions survey?

    • Charles says:

      Yes, you will get a reliable score for the split half method with just 10 questions. The real question is whether the 10 question survey is reliable (i.e. internally consistent). I don’t have a simple answer for this question. All I can say is that, in general, more questions increases reliability. However, if you add a question which is poorly worded, tricky and/or testing something different from the other questions, then reliability can decrease.

      • Karisa Walker says:

        Thanks for the response. It’s a student survey for elementary students so I was worried that more questions would prompt false responses. Decisions….Decisions….

  11. Karisa Walker says:

    I have another question…So if I am giving my survey to 430 students, do I need to conduct the split half test on a small number of the sample to see if its reliable before I give it to all of the students?

  12. GYPSA K P says:

    can we use split half for 15 item tool

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>