Oxford plans IQ tests on pupils

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OXFORD UNIVERSITY is considering using high-powered IQ tests to spot potential in students from state schools.

A report from a university working party chaired by Dr Colin Lucas, the vice- chancellor, published today, looks at ways of encouraging more state school pupils to apply to the university. It says that state school pupils are deterred from applying by the interview process and the need to obtain high A-level grades.

While Dr Lucas's group recommends that interviews should stay, it proposes that the university should look at other ways of identifying sixth- formers' academic potential, perhaps by the kind of IQ test used for leading American universities. There should be forms of testing "which aim to test core intellectual skills that cannot be easily taught and which show strong correlations with future academic achievement", the report says.

Two months ago The Independent revealed that Peter Lampl, the millionaire businessman, had written to ministers proposing a new American-style ability test to revolutionise university entrance and open up Oxbridge to disadvantaged groups.

The Oxford group received evidence that interviews favoured "the articulate and confident and those specially prepared". Colleges told the inquiry that there was less evidence of coaching for interviews in state schools than in independent schools and many said state school students sometimes did not have the general knowledge interviewers required.

Oxford abandoned its entrance exam three years ago as part of a campaign to attract more state school students. But the report shows that the acceptance rate for those years is 45 per cent for independent schools and 37 per cent for state schools.