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Recent Studies of Ethnic Differences in the Cognitive Ability of Adolescents in the United Kingdom

Richard Lynn and John G.R. Fuerst


Published: 2021/06/01


Research from the 20th century showed that ethnic minorities under-performed White British on measures of cognitive ability in the United Kingdom. However, academic qualification results from the first two decades of the 21st century suggest minimal to reverse ethnic differences. To better understand the pattern of contemporary cognitive differences among adolescents in the 21st century, we analyzed academic achievements at age 16 in the GCSE and cognitive ability in four cognitive tests: the National Reference Test, NRT; the Programme for International Student Assessment, PISA; Cognitive Ability Test 3 (CAT3); and Center for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) 11-plus. Results from the PISA, CAT3 and CEM 11-plus tests correlate strongly across ethnic groups. These results show that Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Black students score approximately one half of a standard deviation below Indian and White students, while Chinese students perform significantly above the latter groups. In contrast, but consistent with academic qualifications, results based on the NRT suggest smaller ethnic gaps.

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