Girls outperformed boys in almost all Junior Cert subjects this year according to a gender breakdown of results from the State Examinations Commission (SEC).
It is a familiar pattern also evident at Leaving Cert, and in similar exams around the world.
To start with, girls aim higher, with a much greater proportion of female students taking subjects at “honours” level.
On top of that, the breakdown of performance in higher-level papers shows that female candidates generally did better.
Girls’ tendency to outperform stretches beyond A to the B and C grades, and they are also less likely to “fail”.
The only subjects at higher level where boys scored more As were maths, Italian, metalwork and environmental and social studies.
In one example, of the 31,472 candidates taking higher level Irish, 18,179 were female, 13.8pc of whom scored an A, and 13,293 were male, 8.2pc of whom scored an A.
Materials technology (wood) is a more popular subject with boys, who accounted for 12,110 of the 14,634 candidates who took the subject at higher level. But while 7.3pc of male students scored an A, 10.7pc of girls did. Girls also did better in technology, although it is far more popular with boys.
History at higher level was taken in equal numbers by male and female candidates, with 19.5pc of girls notching up an A, compared with 14.7pc of boys, Among those scoring less than 40pc in the subject were 8.1pc of girls, against 11.7pc of boys.
In science, also taken in equal numbers by male and female students, 11.4pc of girls achieved an A and 35.7pc scored a B. The comparable figures for boys were 6.8pc and 29.1pc.
The superior exam performance by girls tends to be attributed to them being more engaged with things like reading from an early age, putting themselves under pressure to do well and being more comfortable than boys with exams requiring writing skills. Boys, particularly in disadvantaged areas, are more likely to ‘switch off’ school.