Oxford University gives students extra time to finish exams

university of oxford
College at the University of Oxford.


  • Oxford University added 15 extra minutes to maths and
    computer science exams.
  • Adjudicators thought female students were “more likely
    to be adversely affected by time pressure,” according to The
    Daily Telegraph.
  • The university said women have performed better since
    the change last year.

The University of Oxford has added extra time to maths and
computer science exams because female students aren’t performing
as well as their male counterparts.

Students sitting maths and computer science exams last summer
were given an extra 15 minutes to complete their papers because
“female candidates might be more likely to be adversely affected
by time pressure,” according to a decision seen by
The Daily Telegraph.

The number of male students achieving first-class degrees was
double that of women before the change was made, the Telegraph reported. As a
result, the department changed the goal posts in an attempt to
help female students achieve better grades.

But while the change was implemented in order to help more women
achieve first-class degrees, the added time simply helped more
female students achieve 2:1 grades overall, with fewer women
securing a lower class 2:2,
according to the Telegraph

Antonia Sir, an undergraduate representative of Oxford Women in
Computer Science, told the Telegraph: “I am uneasy about schemes
to favour one gender over another.

“But I am happy when people see gaps between groups of people who
should not reasonably have such gaps — such as between genders,
races, or class — and take that as a starting point to think
about the kinds of people they unintentionally leave behind.”

An Oxford University spokesman told Business Insider:

“As part of an ongoing review of our examination process, the
Mathematical Institute in Oxford decided to extend its 90-minute
examinations to 105 minutes for all students.

“We believe that this extra time allows us to better determine
which students have gained the fullest understanding of the
course material, in a way which remains academically demanding
and fair.

“We are encouraged to note that following these changes, women
have performed better in our examinations. However, it is too
soon to draw firm conclusions from this evidence.”