Students were given an extra 15 minutes and female test scores improved
Oxford University has a solution to decreasing the gender gap in its students’ grades.
The prestigious university in England has allotted an extra 15 minutes to students taking math and computer science exams, with the goal of helping to improve the test scores of female students, The Telegraph reports.
Students were given 105 minutes instead of the standard 90 minutes to take their final-year exams last year, without altering the difficulty of the tests. As a result, female test takers improved their scores, according to the University, but it’s unclear by how many points.
The school believes that the “undue effects of time pressure” cause female students to underperform on tests. An Oxford spokesman added that expanding the test time was “academically demanding and fair.”
A spokesperson for Oxford told The Telegraph that 39% of female mathematicians earned degrees with honors as a result of getting more time to take their tests. Though its higher than previous years, their scores are still lower than 47% of male students who earned first class degrees.
Research from the American Psychological Association found that women tend to perform much better on math tests when they are taking the exam with other women versus when they are taking the test with men. What’s more, women who took the tests with all-male peers performed nine points worse than women who tested with only females present, according to the study.
“The departments are not drawing any firm conclusions from the first year’s data. However, third-year female students did show an improvement on their second-year marks,” a spokesperson for Oxford told the Times of London.
“While there is clearly more progress to be made, the departments will continue with the longer papers for the foreseeable future, monitoring the exam data carefully.
© 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved