Effect of family income on USE performance and the choice of university

Maria Yudkevich, Ilya Prakhov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The paper investigates into the effect of family income on performance in the Unified State Exam (USE), on the choice of university, and on the strategies of preparing for entrance exams. The study is based on a survey conducted in autumn 2010 among first-year university students and their parents in sixteen major Russian cities. Family income has proved to have a positive effect on performance in major USE subjects. This relationship remains statistically significant even for students who had similar academic achievements before starting to prepare for entrance exams, i.e. just after the 9th grade. High school graduates ultimately differ in their academic progress, as their families have different financial resources to invest in additional preparation for entrance exams. The average passing score is used to describe universities admitting candidates with similar USE points but different family incomes. Candidates from higher income families with satisfactory and good USE results manage their points more efficiently than candidates with the same results from lower income families. The revealed positive effect of family income on academic achievements of high school graduates, on the strategies of preparing for entrance exams, and on the quality of higher education programs means that establishment of USE as a unified examination, or standardized testing, did not provide equal access to higher education for different categories of high school graduates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-147
Number of pages22
JournalVoprosy Obrazovaniya / Educational Studies Moscow
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Academic performance
  • Choice of university
  • Family income
  • School
  • Unified state exam

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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