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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Gender plays no role in student ability to perform on computer-based examinations

Susan M Kies*, Benjamin D Williams and Gregory G Freund

Author Affiliations

190 Medical Sciences Building, MC-714, 506 South Mathews Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801, US

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BMC Medical Education 2006, 6:57  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-6-57

Published: 28 November 2006



To see if there is a difference in performance when students switch from traditional paper-and-pencil examinations to computer-based examinations, and to determine whether there are gender differences in student performance in these two examination formats.


This study involved first year medical students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign over three Academic Years 2002–03/2003–04 and 2003–05. Comparisons of student performance by overall class and gender were made. Specific comparisons within courses that utilized both the paper-and-pencil and computer formats were analyzed.


Overall performance scores for students among the various Academic Years revealed no differences between exams given in the traditional pen-and-paper and computer formats. Further, when we looked specifically for gender differences in performance between these two testing formats, we found none.


The format for examinations in the courses analyzed does not affect student performance. We find no evidence for gender differences in performance on exams on pen-and-paper or computer-based exams.