Scoring well on first exams extremely important for study success

Alexander Santos Lima

Research by NWO and our university shows that the study success of first-year students is easy to measure. The results of secondary school and the results of the first exams appear to be a good indicator of the chances of passing the first year. Ethnic background and gender say much less about this.

Support students directly

Universities can see very quickly which students have a high chance of having a hard time in the first year. And that only by looking at secondary school grades and the results of the first exams. This data is of course known to universities.

Of the group of students who obtained lower marks on their final exams (5.5 – 6.4), only 36 per cent obtained all sixty ECTS in the first year and 41 per cent dropped out. Of the group of students with high secondary school grades (7.5 and higher), 78 per cent obtained all sixty ECTS and only 8 per cent dropped out. The researchers recommend providing early support to students who are having a harder time with personalized help.

First exams good indicator

The researchers found differences in study success between students of different ethnic backgrounds and gender. These data had no additional predictive value. The students with the most academic success were still those with the highest grades, regardless of background or gender.

The performance in the first exams makes a big difference. Students who pass these exams have a 79 per cent chance of successfully completing the first year of study. Of the students who fail at least one exam, only eleven per cent obtain all credits in the first year.


prof.dr. Henk HG Schmidt


ing. P.W. Peter Hermus

More information

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