U.S. research into the differences between male and female brains suggests women perform better than men on timed tests because they think faster.

In a study involving more than 8,000 U.S. males and females ranging in age from 2 to 90, Vanderbilt University researchers Stephen Camarata and Richard Woodcock discovered females have a significant advantage on timed tests and tasks — especially among pre-teens and teens.

We found very minor differences in overall intelligence, but if you look at the ability of someone to perform well in a timed situation, females have a big advantage, Camarata said. "It is very important for teachers to understand this difference in males and females when it comes to assigning work and structuring tests.

To truly understand a person’s overall ability, it is important to also look at performance in un-timed situations, he added. For males, this means presenting them with material that is challenging and interesting, but (which is) presented in smaller chunks without strict time limits.

The research was published in the May-June issue of the journal Intelligence.