University admission in Russia: Do the wealthier benefit from standardized exams?
This paper examines the impact of family income on the results of the newly introduced Unified State Examination (USE) in Russia. We argue that entrants from wealthy households have an advantage in terms of access to higher education, since income positively affects USE scores through a higher level of investment in pre-entry coaching. We have found positive and significant relationships between the level of income and USE results for high school graduates, given equal achievement before coaching. We demonstrate that in general, investment in pre-entry coaching has positive returns, but the most significant type of investment is pre-entry courses. However, such strategy improves USE results only for students from the most affluent households.