No surprise: Boys like numbers and girls prefer words

02 April 2009

When it comes to choosing which subjects to study at AS Level, there are a few subjects in particular – physics, maths, English literature and psychology – that highlight significant gender preferences.

According to the latest statistics report from Cambridge Assessment, AS Level subjects which have the largest gender differences in uptake are Physics (taken by 20% of boys and 5% of girls in 2006), Psychology (30% of girls and 15% of boys), English Literature (27% of girls and 13% of boys) and Maths (29% of boys and 16% of girls).

The report – which analysed data from the 16+/18+ databases, compiled by the DCFS from data supplied by all the awarding bodies from 2001 to 2006 – investigated the uptake of AS Levels in England broken down by gender and GCSE attainment.

Researchers also looked at what were the most popular AS subjects, the most common combinations of at least 3 AS Level subjects, the uptake of AS Levels by different subject areas (Sciences, Arts, Languages etc) and the subjects most likely to be dropped before A Level.

Interestingly, General Studies, Psychology, Mathematics, English Literature and Biology were the five most popular AS Levels taken by students during 2001 to 2006. And the most common combination of at least 3 AS Level subjects over the same period, excluding General Studies, were Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths.

Previous reports in the series include the uptake of different GCSEs, the uptake of different A Levels, and the numbers of candidates achieving 3 grade As in different combinations of A Levels.

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