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Junior Cert results: Girls continue to outperform boys across most subjects

The data shows girls received more A grades than boys in most subjects.

Image: Shutterstock/maroke

FIGURES FOR THIS year’s Junior Cycle have revealed girls are outperforming boys in almost all main subjects. 

The State Examinations Commission has released a breakdown of grades by gender for subjects taken by 10 or more students in June. 

The data shows that more girls were awarded more A grades at higher level in Irish, History, Geography, French, German, Spanish, Art, and Music, than boys. 

Girls also received more Distinctions at higher level than boys in English, Science and Business Studies.

The figures show that boys scored more A grades at higher level in Maths and other numeric based subjects such as tech graphics, than girls. 

The breakdown of A grades for each subject are:

Percentage A grades


  • Girls: 14.9% (2,801)
  • Boys: 8.2% (1,151)


  • Girls: 12.4% (2,385)
  • Boys: 14.5% (2,633)


  • Girls: 20.1% (4,162)
  • Boys: 13.3% (2,730)


  • Girls: 10.7% (2,693)
  • Boys: 7% (1,742)


  • Girls: 13.3% (1,837)
  • Boys: 7.7% (794)


  • Girls: 18.1% (910)
  • Boys: 11.5% (464)

As part of ongoing reforms within the Junior Cycle, the top grade in English, Science and Business is now classed as a Distinction rather than an A grade. 

The breakdown of those subjects are: 

Percentage distinctions 


  • Girls: 2.8% (762)
  • Boys: 1% (244)


  • Girls: 2.5% (713)
  • Boys: 1.6% (492)

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Business Studies

  • Girls: 2.6% (453)
  • Boys: 1.1% (209)

The core subjects at junior cycle at present are English, Irish and Maths. However, Education Minister Joe McHugh has announced that History will be a core subject in junior cycle from next year. 

His decision flies in the face of a report from the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, which carried out a review of the subject and recommended that it remain optional.

McHugh decided to give it a special status and make it a core subject from September 2020.

Other optional subjects where boys outperformed girls for the top grade in this year’s exams include tech graphics and material technology. 

Some 64,330 Irish students sat the Junior Certificate exams this year - 31,564 female and 32,766 male. It represented an increase of 2.7% on last year’s figure. 

A total of 19 students secured 11 higher/common-level A grades and distinctions this year. 

English, which was the first subject to be examined in 2017 as part of the new framework for the Junior Cycle, has seen just 2% of students achieving the highest grade possible – distinction – this year. 

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