Girls reach puberty earlier than boys. Researchers believe this can explain many of the differences in grades between girls and boys.

Maybe now we know why girls perform better in school than boys

Gender is not what matters, say researchers.

Girls do better than boys in almost all subjects at school.

Many researchers are concerned about the growing differences in girls’ and boys' grades.

Why this is the case, however, they haven’t been able to find a good answer to.

Brain researchers who have studied girls' and boys' brains haven’t been able to explain the discrepancy.

Boys and girls are equally smart.

Gender not what matters

But now researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health have made an exciting discovery in a new study.

They found that pupils who reach puberty early simply perform better at school than those who reach puberty late.

This finding applies to both boys and girls.

In other words, it’s not whether you are a girl or a boy that matters, but rather how early or late you reach puberty.

The finding explains half of the differences in grades.

Girls reach puberty earlier

However, gender is still a factor as it turns out.

Girls reach puberty before boys do.

“This may explain why girls perform better at school,” says researcher Fartein Ask Torvik.

Not just menstruation

You may be wondering why researchers haven't thought of this before.

They actually did investigate girls’ earlier onset of puberty – and made a completely different discovery.

Girls who start their period early get worse grades on average than girls who start their period later.

In the new study, researchers looked at more than menstruation when studying puberty.

During puberty, a lot of things happen, including lots of growing and getting taller.

This time the researchers used height as a measure of sexual maturity. They measured students' height several times at different intervals, which made it easier to compare girls and boys.

Increase in maturity

Researchers don’t believe that puberty in and of itself is the deciding factor on whether you do well in school.

They believe it’s more likely that puberty is related to psychological factors.

We simply become more mature when we reach puberty.


Genes are the primary determiner as to whether we reach puberty late or early.

We can’t control the genes we have since we inherit them from our parents.

Yet, our genes play an important role for our grades.

And our grades in turn become a major factor for which schools we attend and how things work out for us later in life.


Elever som kommer tidlig i puberteten presterer bedre på skolen. (Students who reach puberty early perform better in school.) Norwegian article at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, 8 April 2021.


Read the Norwegian version of this article at

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