Nature beats nurture in determining test scores
A team from King’s College London found in a study of teenage twins that differences in exam grades are a result of genetics more than anything else, including the student’s environment, family, school or teacher.
The study looked at data from more than 11,000 identical and non-identical 16-year-old twins sourced from the Twins Early Development Study. In their analysis, the researchers looked at results of the twins' GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) exams, which are national exams that U.K. students take in the final year of their compulsory education at age 16.
The results showed that the exam scores of identical twins were more similar than the exam scores of non-identical twins, suggesting that the differences in educational achievement were more due to genetics than environmental factors, since identical twins share 100 percent of their genes. Genetics seemed to have its greatest influence when it came to exam results for scientific subjects.
Lead author Nicholas Shakeshaft notes that these results “do not mean that genetics explain 60 percent of an individual's performance, but rather that genetics explains 60 percent of the differences between individuals, in the population as it exists at the moment.” The team suggests further research needs to be done to see how these results may affect educational policies.