Monday 24 October 2016

Girls make the grade again with more As than boys in Leaving Cert

Published 19/08/2016 | 02:30

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'Click to enlarge'

Girls have swept the board in Leaving Certificate grades again this year.

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Female candidates produced more As and ABCs and fewer 'fail' grades, according to a gender breakdown of the results from the State Examinations Commission (SEC).

The pattern is broadly the same at both higher and ordinary level, and similar to the picture from previous years.

Among 32 Leaving Certificate higher-level subjects, girls produced proportionately more As in 25 of them.

Even in subjects such as engineering, which might be considered traditionally 'male', female candidates edged ahead.

Technology is one of the subjects where the gap in A grades was most pronounced, with 16pc of girls getting the top mark, compared with 12pc of boys.

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'Click to enlarge'

The subjects where boys scored more As were maths, applied maths, chemistry, physics and chemistry, accounting and economics.

When account is taken of the ABC 'honours' grades, girls continued to lead the way in almost all subjects.

Girls are also less likely than boys to end up with a below-E grade,

The phenomenon of girls outperforming boys in exams is not unique to Ireland and has been the subject of much research.

A study carried out in the University of Pennsylvania, USA, some years ago concluded that girls do better because they are more self-disciplined.

Another study conducted by the international think-tank, the OECD, on gender equality in education, found that girls read more and spent more time on homework.

On the other hand, boys tend to have more negative attitudes towards school and are more likely to arrive late and also spend more time on activities such as playing videogames.

Girls are better organised in their approach to study, and the figures on the number of candidates sitting subjects at different levels also show that girls tend to aim higher from the beginning.

In English higher level this year, among 36,577 candidates who sat the exam, 20,125 were girls, compared with 16,452 boys. Of the 17,133 who sat the ordinary level paper, 10,521 were boys and 6,609 were girls.

A feature of the Leaving Certificate this year was a sharp rise in the number of candidates who opted for the more basic foundation-level maths, rather than ordinary level, one of the issues that is giving rise to concern about performance in maths.

This year, 6,478 candidates sat foundation level, up 865 from 2015, but the data shows that boys were much more likely to have dropped down, with an 18pc rise in the number of males doing foundation level, compared with 12pc for girls.

The 9pc fail rate in ordinary level maths is also a worry, with boys slightly more likely to feature among those who did not achieve a D grade: 9.6pc had a below E grade, compared with 8.9pc for girls.

Irish Independent

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