Sex differences in GCE examination entry statistics and success rates

The General Certificate of Education (GCE) ‘O’ and ‘A’ level examinations were first introduced in 1951. These examinations have been regarded by most schools and parents as a major achievement goal for children, and the most recent DES ‘Statistics of Education’ for 1977 reveal that out of the 751.1 thousand school leavers in Britain in that year, 54.3 per cent had attempted at least one ‘O’ level and 17.8 per cent had attempted at least one ‘A’ level GCE examination. As these examinations are used by employers and further and higher education institutions as a major entry requirement, it is reasonable to assume that the majority of children who are sufficiently motivated and are capable of entering for them will do so. On this basis both the overall statistics and the statistics for individual subjects, at each level and in each year, provide a most useful source of information about sex differences in educational choice and achievement.

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