Why Women Do Better in College Than Their SAT or ACT Scores Predict

university-minnesotaPsychologists at the University of Minnesota conducted a series of experiments to determine why women tend to achieve better grades in college than men when the women and men have identical scores on college admission tests. In fact, in groups where ACT or SAT test scores are the same, women tend to have a grade point average that is 0.24 points higher than for men on the typical 4.0 scale.

In a new published study, researchers found that women tended to take courses that were a bit easier than the courses taken by men. But the study found that this accounted for only a small portion of the gender gap in grade point averages for men and women with identical test scores on college admission tests.

The biggest factor explaining the difference in grade point average, according to the study, is that women tend to be more conscientious. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines conscientious as being “very careful about doing what you are supposed to do” and being “concerned with doing something correctly.” The study found that women had better class attendance and participation, were more likely to do their homework, meet deadlines, and to pursue extra credit opportunities. In short, women are better students than men and go about their academic business in a more efficient and productive manner.

heidi keiserThe lead author of the study, Heidi N. Keiser is a graduate of DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, and is a Ph.D. candidate in industrial-organizational psychology program at the University of Minnesota. She told the Minnesota Post that “conscientiousness is one of those five major personality traits in which people vary. It encompasses things like dependability, persistence, and achievement striving. It’s not the type of thing that’s measured by admission tests, but it’s an important variable that will predict a student’s performance in college.”

The full study, “Why Women Perform Better in College Than Admission Scores Would Predict: Exploring the Roles of Conscientiousness and Course-Taking Patterns,” was published in the April issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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