Tuesday 24 October 2017

Girls outscore boys once again in nearly all Leaving subjects

Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

GIRLS have retained their strong lead over boys in the Leaving Certificate performance stakes.

They scored more top grades in almost all subjects at higher level, according to a gender breakdown of the 2010 results from the State Examinations Commission.

The only subjects where boys scored more honours ABC grades on higher-level papers were Latin, applied maths, engineering, religious education, economics and Japanese.

Boys also scored more As than girls in maths and agricultural economics, although the girls were ahead in some traditionally 'male' subjects, such as construction studies.

While girls are considered to be strong in languages, the gender breakdown also puts them ahead in areas such as business and many of the science subjects.

The superior results from female exam students is an international phenomenon, but nonetheless one that raises concerns about boys' performance.

As well as getting more top grades, girls are also less likely than boys to fail to get an exam.

In maths ordinary level, where failure rates hit a worrying 10pc, it was a bigger issue for boys, 12pc whom had a below-D grade, compared with 8pc of girls.

There may no great surprise because girls are known to be better organised when it comes to studying, although new research reveals that many feel under too much pressure.

At the other extreme, boys, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, are more likely to disengage from school life and to drop out early.

Girls have a tradition of aiming higher in education and are more likely than boys to sit an exam at honours level. Girls are also more interested than boys in going to college.

The punishing study regimes put in by girls in sixth year is highlighted in a recent study by the Economic and Social Research Institute for government education advisers the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.


The study shows that more than half of female sixth-year students feel under constant strain in the months before the June exams and about one in three loses sleep worrying.

It found that girls are more likely to put in four or more hours of study every day, while boys dominate in the category of students who study for less than one hour a day.

The 2010 breakdown does not show any significant change in the relative performance levels of girls and boys in comparison with 2009, although it varies from subject to subject.

For instance, boys narrowed the gap in English and maths, when compared with last year, but girls stretched their lead in Irish and history.

However, when compared with a decade ago, there is evidence that boys have closed the girls' lead in a range of subjects such as Irish, English, maths, biology, business and modern languages.

This year, 13pc of girls scored an A in Irish, compared with 9pc of boys, while in English 11pc of girls achieved the top grade, compared with 9pc of boys. In history, 16pc of girls attained an A, compared with 11pc of boys, while in business the As broke down more evenly, at close to 11pc each.

In maths, 16pc of boys got an A, well ahead of the 12pc of girls, although across all the honours ABC grades, the girls pulled slightly ahead.

Maths failure rate isn't even the half of it

Irish Independent

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