Boys perform better than girls in science, says a study


Researchers from Arizona State University found that males and females do not perform equally in science and other practical based exams.

According to the study, male students perform better, not because they are stronger academically, but because of the way questions are designed.

Other inputs from the study:

  • Students with higher socioeconomic status perform better than those with lower socioeconomic status
  • According to the study, male and female students perform equally well at exams that require memorising
  • Questions that require critical thinking have students with better socioeconomic status perform better. Also, boys perform better than girls in these questions
  • The study holds good for tests that require cognitive and elevated critical thinking

Research process involved:

  • The research went on for three years and had about 4,800 students involved in the study
  • It was carried on 87 undergraduate courses including introductory biological exams taught by 26 instructors at a public research university

Experts on research:

“At first glance, one might assume the differences in exam performance are based on academic ability. However, we controlled for this in our study by including the students’ incoming grade point averages in our analysis,” said Christian Wright from ASU to The Hindu

“We were surprised to find that this gap emerged based on cognitive challenge level, and that this negatively affected women and lower socioeconomic students,” said Wright

Recommendations for better performance:

  • Use of active learning practices
  • Classroom discussions, clickers and other enhancement measures
  • Grooming on critical questions and their solutions
  • According to the research, psychological factors play a major role in performance of students in exams like these.


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