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Boys outperform girls at A level A* grade for first time in Northern Ireland

Boys have outperformed girls at A-level A* grade for the first time ever in Northern Ireland.

Figures released on behalf of the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQCIC), show a stable performance from Northern Ireland students at A Level.

A level

Overall a continued stable performance by Northern Ireland students across all grades.

There was a small increase in those awarded the top grade, with 8.2% of entries receiving an A*, up 0.1 percentage points. The percentage of entries achieving A* – A remained unchanged at 30.4%. The overall A* – E pass rate decreased slightly by 0.1 percentage points to 98.2%.

For the first time since the grade A* was introduced, males performed better than females by 0.4 percentage points. The performance gap between females and males has also narrowed at the A* – A grades .

Entries for A Levels in Northern Ireland decreased this year by 5.8% and this is in line with population demographics.

The top five subject choices remain the same, with Mathematics continuing to be the most popular, closely followed by Biology, Religious Studies, English Literature and History.

Over one third of A Level entries in Northern Ireland are in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects. There is a small increase in the overall proportion of STEM entries, up from 39.7% to 40.1% this year.

AS Level

Northern Ireland schools continue to offer the AS Level as part of the full A Level qualification.

There is a 4% decline in AS Level entries in Northern Ireland and this is in-line with demographics.

AS Level outcomes remain stable with 95.1% of candidates achieving A-E grade, an increase of 0.3 percentage points on the previous year.

Commenting on this summer’s GCE results, Justin Edwards, Chief Executive of the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) said: “Today’s A level examination results are a testament to the hard work of students. I congratulate them all and wish them the very best for their future.

“Once again, Northern Ireland’s students have performed well, with a steady and strong performance across all grades. The results are also recognition of the dedication and support provided by teachers and schools.

“This year males achieved a higher percentage of A* grades. This is the first time males have performed better than females since the grade was introduced. The performance gap, between females and males, also narrowed at the other grades.

“There are some interesting changes in subject choices. Mathematics remains the most popular A level, with 1 in 10 students studying the subject here.

“Overall, the proportion of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) entries have increased slightly and STEM subjects are still a popular choice.

“The proportion of students taking Languages has decreased slightly, mainly due to a decrease in Spanish entries. Music and Performing Arts have both seen an increase in entries.

“The new Life and Health Sciences qualification has proven popular, particularly with female students. Computing subjects have also seen a rise in entries this year.

“CCEA’s market share has risen, showing that the local awarding organisation remains a popular and reliable choice for students and schools.”

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