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Determinants of University Success : Using Past Performance as a Predictor

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Title: Determinants of University Success : Using Past Performance as a Predictor
Author(s): Markkanen, Valtteri
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political and Economic Studies
Discipline: Economics
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2017
Abstract Student selection has been a widely researched topic in economics and a lot of the literature has focused on how the student’s performance in the university can be predicted. In Finland most of the people applying to a university take an entrance exam and the admittance is determined by both the entrance exam and the score from high school’s end exam – the matriculation examination. Basing the student selection on the entrance exam has aroused a lot of criticism claiming that it can be unpredictable for the applicant and that it slows down the transition from secondary to tertiary education. Currently the Finnish Government is urging universities to abandon overly burdensome entrance exams in favor of basing the student selection more on the matriculation exam scores. In this thesis I examine how well success in matriculation exam and university’s entrance exam predict later performance in the university. The data used comes from the student registry of University of Helsinki where I will focus on students who applied to the Faculties of Law and Social Sciences in years 2011 and 2012. The student’s performance in the university is measured by his or her grade point average and the study pace. The results show that the matriculation exam and entrance exam are both statistically significant and positive predictors for university grade point average but matriculation exam score has much more substantial effect. For students in the Faculty of Law matriculation exam score explains 17 % of the variance in the grade point average while the entrance exam accounts for 2 %. Results for the Faculty of Social Sciences support the findings with matriculation exam explaining 13 % and entrance exam just 1 %. Both variables fail to predict the study pace. The findings from these two faculties support the notion that matriculation exam score is a better predictor for academic success than entrance exam score in terms of grade point average.
Keyword(s): student selection matriculation exam entrance exam university admission

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