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Girls outperform boys in nearly all subjects in matriculation exams

Girls trounced their male peers in most subjects but boys prevailed in English, Chemistry, and Advanced Mathematics and Russian.

File photo. Image: Elisa Kinnunen / Yle

An Yle analysis of the results of this spring’s matriculation examinations has found that overall, girls outshone boys in most subjects during upper secondary school final examinations at the end of the academic year.

Yle found that this year, nearly half of all graduating students wrote the Advanced Mathematics exam, while one-third of girls tackled the subject. Boys and girls both scored the same average marks for Mathematics, but boys performed slightly better in the advanced course.

On average girls scored better than boys in all subjects with the exception of English, Chemistry and Advanced Russian and Mathematics. The subjects in which girls most outstripped their male peers were Health Education and Psychology, which girls also studied more than boys. And although one-third of boys studied Physics compared to one-tenth of girls, girls also earned better grades than boys in this subject.

Girls shine in Finnish, boys excel in English

Universities in Finland are modifying their admissions process to provide places for students on the basis of their grades on matriculation certificates. The new practice will take effect from 2020.

Advance information indicates that good grades in Finnish will help boost the prospects of students applying for tertiary education opportunities. That’s not great news for boys, who under-performed compared to girls in this year’s Finnish examinations.

The change also gave pause to first-year upper secondary student Juhani Haikala, who attends the Helsinki School of Mathematics in Maunula. Haikala said he struggled with Finnish in primary school.

“Honestly speaking, I just wasn’t interested in grammar. It got a bit easier when I got into upper secondary school, because there wasn’t so much grammar. But it’s really important to learn to write properly and to use proper prose,” he admitted.

The national results indicated that girls from Ressu upper secondary school in Helsinki performed best, while boys from Kuhmoinen comprehensive upper secondary school outshone their peers.

University admittance in Finland requires applicants to pass at least four compulsory subjects, one of which must be Finnish. The others may include one of the following: Swedish, a foreign language, Mathematics or arts and sciences subjects.

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