Study Shows Genes Affect Academic Performance More Than Schooling

April 10 2018 1:27pm

Scientific analysis of over 5,000 students has shown that good exam results are down to genetics rather than attending selective schools.

Researchers compared genetic differences between British students attending selective grammar and private schools, and non-selective comprehensive schools in the UK. After considering other factors, such as family’s socioeconomic status, and analysing each pupil’s academic ability and achievement at 11 and 16, the school type explained less than 1% of grade differences.

This is the first study to look at subtle genetic differences between students attending selective and comprehensive schools, but it has raised some controversy because of the genetic ‘scoring system’ and methods used. Ideally, the study should be repeated within another education system to reinforce the results.
Professor Gil McVean at the University of Oxford stated that, “What [the researchers] show is that there is a correlation between school type and other factors (including prior attainment, etc.) and GCSE outcome. It doesn’t mean that attending a school of a particular type isn’t important – it just means that you can’t tease out the contribution of non-genetic factors. A much bigger and better-designed study is needed to provide an answer to this question. What is clear, is that the contribution of genetics effects is very small in comparison to these other factors.”

Authors of the paper, however, have stated that “Our study suggests that for educational achievement there appears to be little added benefit from attending selective schools. While schools are crucial for academic development, the type of school appears less so.” And believe that teachers and schools should be more open to discussing the role of genetics within educational attainment.

Thousands of genes overall contribute towards intelligence levels, ability to concentrate, and self-discipline – each has a tiny effect individually but joined together the researchers argue they have an impact on each student’s chances of doing well in exams.


Summer Offer

A FREE Full Consultation (normally £180) with a Fertility Doctor when you book a diagnostic scan.

The consultation will take place immediately after your scan. It will explain your scan results, review your medical history, discuss your fertility plans, and agree a personalised plan of action if you want one.

Details of our scans can be found by following this link

Call our Patient Services Team on 020 33 88 3000

or email us at