Scientists may soon be able to predict how well children will do at school just by looking at their genetics.
Researchers claim the information could be used to show whether a child will develop learning difficulties in later life and therefore help to prevent developmental difficulties.
The discovery was made in a study that showed DNA variants explain almost 10% of differences in academic achievement in 16-year-olds.
According to the new findings DNA on its own is better at predicting educational attainment than gender or “grit” – a personality trait thought to reflect perseverance and the ability to pursue long-term goals.
Senior study author professor Robert Plomin said his team were at the “tipping point” for predicting individuals’ educational strengths and weaknesses from their DNA.
Scientists looked at the influence of common genetic variants on GCSE results in maths and English in 5,825 unrelated people.
For each person, they produced a “polygenic” genetic influence score based on 20,000 known DNA variants – single letter changes to the genetic code known as single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs.
Some SNPs were found to be more strongly associated with academic achievement than others.