A-level results: Northern Ireland boys outperform girls at A* for first time

Boys have outperformed girls at the top A-level grade for the first time since it was introduced in Northern Ireland.

They overtook girls by 0.4% at the A* grade, which was first awarded in 2010.

(l-r) Campbell College pupils Andy Dong, Karl Hawthorne, Ross Miley, Dan Stevenson, Robbie Jamison and Callum Jones celebrating their A-level results. Picture: Michael Cooper

(l-r) Campbell College pupils Andy Dong, Karl Hawthorne, Ross Miley, Dan Stevenson, Robbie Jamison and Callum Jones celebrating their A-level results. Picture: Michael Cooper

The performance gap between the genders also narrowed at the A*-A grade boundary, and it follows concerted efforts to address the disparity by education authorities.

There was a small increase in those awarded the top grade, with just under a tenth earning an A*.

Around 30,000 pupils received their A-level and AS results on Thursday morning.

The number of A-level entries declined this year by 5.8%, in line with demographics.

Mathematics was the most popular subject, with one in 10 studying it, closely followed by biology, religious studies, English literature and history.

More than a third of entries involved science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects. There was a small increase in the overall proportion of Stem entries, up to 40.1% this year.

The proportion taking languages decreased slightly, mainly due to a fall in Spanish entries. Music and performing arts saw an increase.

A new life and health sciences qualification proved popular, particularly with girls. Computing subjects saw a rise in entries.

Justin Edwards, chief executive of the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) in Northern Ireland, said: "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