The title is based on this Reddit post:

It's 1:30am so I'm not going to go dig up the study, but what it showed was that, on average, a person who performs well in mathematics usually performs better in other subjects compared to people who do not perform well in mathematics. The conclusion of the study was that someone who excels at mathematics, pretty much can excel at everything else. Anecdotally, I'm sure many people can confirm this as well.

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    $\begingroup$ Performance in all (at least academic) school subjects is positively correlated. Is this what you mean? $\endgroup$
    – Tommi
    Jan 15, 2018 at 6:51
  • $\begingroup$ @TommiBrander No; I was seeking a study that focussed on math's ability to affect other academic school subjects. $\endgroup$
    – user155
    Jan 15, 2018 at 7:12
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    $\begingroup$ Although I've seen a lot of anecdotal evidence for this, it's mostly people who are really good in math (like having a top 100 Putnam score). Also, one needs to be careful with how to formulate this conjecture in order to avoid having an obvious selection bias. Note that for the way the Reddit post formulated this, those selected for the "not good in math" group have been specifically selected so as to be not good in a certain academic subject, whereas presumably no such selection restriction for being not good in a certain academic subject was used when selecting those good in math. $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2018 at 12:46
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it doesn't appear to be about teaching mathematics. I am not sure if there is another stack exchange site where it might belong. $\endgroup$
    – Amy B
    Jan 15, 2018 at 14:16
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure if this is off-topic. I have occasionally told students that a math major on their CV indicates to potential employers that they have broad problem-solving skills and the ability to learn anything new that they'll need. So, it would indeed be nice to have evidence of this. However, I do not like how this question is posed. Can @Canada-Area51Proposal at least rewrite the query "in their own words", add some motivation for why they're asking it, and state how it pertains to math education? It seems like "bad style" to paste someone else's (poorly written) query from another site. $\endgroup$ Jan 16, 2018 at 2:34

1 Answer 1


"Other subjects" is a gross generalisation and it certainly is wrong to say that proficiency in mathematics correlates with proficiency in ALL other subjects.

Numerous studies have focused on correlating math ability with English language learning. Generally a significant correlation is attributed between these two (Source) but some evidence points against it too (Source).

A stronger correlation is found between math with spatial ability or STEM courses. At the same time, the correlation is weak with NON-STEM courses (Source).


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