To succeed in your studies, work pays the most. However, other criteria are taken into account, one of which, quite unexpectedly, is related to the initial of the last name.

At school, grades are very important. In particular, they will make it possible to assess your level and move to the next class. To achieve good results, you have to work and revise. However, other criteria are also taken into account, particularly at the time of correction, even if they are minor in relation to the work provided.

A team from the University of Michigan analyzed more than 30 million student assessment records and spotted an interesting detail. In her study, she focused on the grades awarded to students based on the order in which their assignments were graded. They noticed differences and sometimes harder grades as the stack of copies got smaller. Students’ homework corrected last was often and overall lower graded than the first.

If the copies were arranged alphabetically, the initials most disadvantaged were the last in the alphabet. Specifically, students whose last names began with A, B, C, D, or E received grades 0.3 points higher (out of a possible 100) compared to grading in random order. Conversely, students whose last name had an initial between U and Z received 0.3 points less when the grade was assigned in alphabetical order than when the paper was placed randomly.

Although this difference remains minimal, it is still notable. Especially since the observation is the same regarding the assessments of the correctors: the lower the copy is in the pile, the more scathing the comments from the teachers, especially when it comes to an essay or an assignment subject to interpretation, as in social sciences for example. Even when the correction is not done in alphabetical order, the finding is similar: “the first 10 assignments generally received around 3.5 points more than those graded from 50th to 60th place,” the study attests.

A relatively simple explanation emerges: the more copies teachers correct, the more fatigue is present. They therefore become less patient with mistakes and thus more severe. Another American study also confirms the difference linked to initials at school, but assures that it goes further than points on grades. “Even if they were identical in every other way, the person with the initial at the beginning of the alphabet was much more likely to be named by teachers as an exceptional student,” says Jeffrey Zax, professor of economics and co-author of the study, in a press release.

Children with names and initials starting with A, B, C, D and E are therefore, once again, privileged. The researcher specifies, however, that this phenomenon tends to decrease. Many other criteria are taken into consideration in academic success alongside the amount of work provided: place of residence, environment, family, etc.