Girls outperform boys in higher-level Leaving Cert subjects

Boys left behind even in some of the traditionally ‘male’ subjects

When it comes to overall grades, girls are top of the class. In almost every Leaving Cert subject, girls have outperformed boys in the class of 2013 in terms of higher level honours achieved.

In general terms, 78.5 per cent of girls taking higher level courses managed an honour, compared with 74 per cent of boys.

This is, of course, the continuation of an enduring phenomenon. There were a few surprises, however, including the fact that girls have also outperformed boys this year in traditionally "male" subjects, including physics and technology, according to statistics released by the State Examinations Commission.

Girls outpaced the boys in Irish and geography, French and biology. Even in physics – often the preserve of boys – the 2013 class defied tradition: 84.7 per cent of higher level girls achieved an honour, while only 70.4 per cent of boys managed it.


Girls also had the upper hand in English, technology, history, Spanish and Italian. The only higher level subjects in which the boys got more honours were maths, applied maths, Latin, engineering, construction studies and Arabic.

This difference in performance carries through into higher education, according to research. More girls get to third level and there seems to be a particular advantage for girls coming from all-girl schools. They perform best of all when it comes to getting a place at university.

Dick Ahlstrom

Dick Ahlstrom

Dick Ahlstrom, a contributor to The Irish Times, is the newspaper's former Science Editor.