Oxford Rewrites History Exam to Make it Easier for Women to Get Top Grades

June 15,2017

From HeatSt.com

Oxford University has completely redesigned one of its core history exams with the explicit aim of giving more top grades to women.

Academics at the university – often ranked top in the world for history – will now allow students to do one exam at home, rather than in an exam hall.

The move – immediately attacked as a “soft” alternative – was made because authorities felt female students were getting too few first-class degrees.

According to the Sunday Times, the change was made in response to a “gender grade gap” which sees 32% of female historians bag a First class degree, compared to 37% of men.

As such, a second-year exam which previously would have been sat under strict conditions will now be much looser in form.

Instead of donning the traditional “sub-fusc” academic wear (pictured above), and submitting to a hard time limit, invigilators, and silence, students will be allowed to take the exam home.

The final form of the exam has yet to be agreed – but students are likely to be given similar questions to a timed exam and allowed to complete them over several days instead of a few hours.

The hope is that the exam will reward research skills rather than memorisation, or performance under pressure.

But the style will carry a much increased risk of plagiarism, and it will be virtually impossible to stop students asking other people for help.

An Oxford spokesman acknowledged that “the gender gap was a consideration” when making the change, but said timed exams will still be an “important” part of the course.

The university’s history course has proved a flashpoint for social justice issues recently.

Last month faculty members caved to student protests and instituted a compulsory black history exam.

Though, as Heat Street reported, campaigners dismissed the new module as a “small concession” and demanded even greater changes, though did not specify quite what they were.

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