Boys better at exams, says Oxford admissions head

 

The head of admissions at Oxford has said that boys perform better than girls in exams.

Mike Nicolson, the director of undergraduate admissions at Oxford, has told the Daily Telegraph that be believes boys outperform girls in exams because they take ‘more risks’.

Eight per cent of boys achieved the top A* grade, compared to 7.4 per cent of girls, in this year’s A-level results. Last year the gap was only 0.1 per cent.

However, overall girls still outperformed boys in all subjects except maths, chemistry, Spanish, French and German.

Oxford received 17,500 applications for only 3,200 places. As a result, unlike other universities, Oxford did not offer places in clearing, having already filled all their places.

According to the Good University Guide, 54 per cent of undergrads are male, outnumber their female counterparts who make up 46 per cent of the student body. The national average is just below this at 52/48, but varies from institution to institution.

“We have generally seen male students tend to be much more prepared to take risks, which is why they do well in exams.” Nicolson said.

He continued: “Generally, female students are risk-averse, and will tend to take longer to think about an answer. If it’s a multiple-choice question, male students will generally go with their gut feeling. Girls will try and reason it out.”

Although Nicolson admitted to generalising, his remarks were met with criticism by female leaders in education.

The chairperson in science engagement at the University of Reading, professor Averil MacDonald, who is also a board member of the Women in Science and Engineering campaign, said his statement was ‘factually incorrect.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, she said: “Girls are outperforming boys at all subjects. They are getting better results than boys even in subjects like physics, which are traditionally seen as a male preserve.

“Boys may be following gut feeling, but that isn’t necessarily the way to get the right result.”

Professor MacDonald agreed that boys did tend to be favoured when more weight was given to exams than coursework.

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