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Still Should Study, Though

How well students do in school may come down in part to their genes, as King's College London researchers report that academic achievement is largely heritable.

As they write in Scientific Reports this week, King's Robert Plomin and colleagues compared how well more than 12,000 identical and fraternal twins performed on UK General Certificate of Secondary Education exams. From this, they found that GCSE subject scores were highly heritable.

"We found that academic achievement in English, mathematics, science, humanities, second languages, and art were all affected by the same genes," Plomin tells the Guardian. "People may think that they're good at one subject and bad at another, but in reality most people are strikingly consistent."

Plomin and his colleagues report that genes explain between 54 percent and 65 percent of individual differences in GCSE results — for all subjects — and note that these heritability estimates remain high even after controlling for intelligence. They suspect that the same genes influence academic achievement across various subjects.

"There's a general academic achievement factor. Children who do well in one subject tend to better in another subject and that is largely for genetic reasons," co-author Kaili Rimfeld adds at the Guardian.