The Finnish matriculation examination in biology from 1921 to 1969 – trends in knowledge content and educational form

Jakke Neiro, Niko R Johansson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The history and evolution of science assessment remains poorly known, especially in the context of the exam question contents. Here we analyze the Finnish matriculation examination in biology from the 1920s to 1960s to understand how the exam has evolved in both its knowledge content and educational form. Each question was classified according to its topic in biology, and its cognitive level by Bloom’s taxonomy. Overall, the exam progressed from a rather dichotomous test of botany and zoology to a modern exam covering biology from biochemistry to environmental science, reflecting the development of biology as a scientific discipline. The contribution of genetics increased steadily, while ecology witnessed a decline and a renaissance during the same time period. The biological profile of the questions was established by the 1950s. The educational standard and cognitive demand of the questions was always high and established by the 1940s.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLUMAT: International Journal on Math, Science and Technology Education
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)162–199
Number of pages38
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
  • Finnish matriculation examination
  • biology education
  • Bloom’s taxonomy
  • history of science education
  • assessment content analysis
  • 516 Educational sciences

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