A comparison of A-level performance in economics and business studies: How much more difficult is economics?

Barry Reilly, Raymond Bachan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper uses A-Level Information System data to compare academic performance in two subjects often viewed as relatively close substitutes for one another at A-level. The important role of GCSE achievement is confirmed for both subjects. There is evidence of strong gender effects and variation in outcomes across Examination Boards. A counterfactual exercise suggests that if the sample of Business Studies candidates had studied Economics nearly 40% of those who obtained a grade C or better in the former subject would not have done so in the latter. The opposite exercise suggests that 12% more Economics candidates would have achieved a grade C or better if they had taken Business Studies. In order to render a Business Studies A-level grade comparable with an Economics one in terms of relative difficulty, we estimate that a downward adjustment of 1.5 UCAS points should be applied to the former subject. This adjustment is lower than that suggested by correction factors based on conventional subject pair analysis for these two subjects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-108
Number of pages24
JournalEducation Economics
Volume13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2005

Keywords

  • Business Studies
  • Economics
  • subject difficulty' ordered probit

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