Education: Girls overachievement at school

A level Sociology
Education: Girls overachievement at school


Past exam questions have included questions on this area: Gender differences in education. The exam may have a scenario and you may be asked to apply your knowledge to the question. Eg. ‘Applying material from item A analyse two reasons for the overachievement of girls in the past 35 years’.

Here are some tips for preparing to answer this question:

  1. Use current examples
    Your books may already have some examples. Have a quick google search for newspaper articles that discuss overachievement at school. This will also develop your research skills. It’s pretty easy to find as the media are always commenting on exam results of students. This shows you are up to date with your information
  2. Policies
    A lot of sociology informs government policies. Likewise with the first point, your book may include some but a quick google search means you can add in some policy to support your argument, for example, this one which explains the response to boys underachievement.
  3. Have at least 5 reasons
    To ensure you are succinct in your essay as you won’t have endless amounts of time to revise and write in the exam. Write the title area in the middle of your revision page and 5 reasons; How does it cause girls to overachieve? By asking yourself how, you are not only describing but it encourages you to think critically and evaluate. See further posts about evaluation tips HERE. Then when it comes to the exam depending if you have a 10 or 30 mark question, you’ve got enough points.
  4. Refer to the item in your question:
    If the scenario relates to the way students are taught and assessed, refer to this and use it in answering the question.
  5. Use research:
    Refer to the work sociologists have done on this area as examples to illustrate your point. E.g Tony Sewell the feminism of education.
  6. Analysis:
    Just because the question is asking you to comment about girls, include statements about boys underachievement.  For example, why has one particular method favoured girls over boys.
  7. Look at past papers:
    I’m sure you have heard this one a thousand times before, but it really is key to knowing how exam questions will be structured, how they are scored, what weighting each question has. Going through it initially to see which questions you struggle with then focus in on the harder ones. A lot of students struggle 20 and 30 markers. Once you have understood how to structure them and where to get the marks your good to go. This post HERE outlines just how to approach them.
  8. Content you can include:
    Stereotypes, the way students are taught and assessed, subject choice, the impact of feminism, changes in the family, changes in women’s employment, girls changing ambitions, role models in school, the impact of class and ethnicity. Ensure it is specific to the question.
  9. Evaluation:
    Ask yourself of the point made: Are there other factors that contribute to the overachievement? i.e class. Has this affected all parts of education? How does this argument fit against the wider society, outside the UK? Do sociologists have similar or different views on the point made? See more on how to evaluate HERE.


Do get in touch in the comments below about what you have found useful, or if you have any questions or things you would add.

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