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

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By Kieran Corcoran | 4:20 am, June 12, 2017
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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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