A-level results show that while more boys’ entries scored an A* grade, more girls’ entries were awarded an A* or A.
Boys leapfrogged girls to score more of the very top A-level grades this year.
Overall, 9.1% of boys’ entries scored an A* grade, compared with 8.8% of girls’ entries – a 0.3 percentage point gap.
This reverses a recent trend – girls were ahead in the top result for the previous three years.
But despite boys taking over at A* grades, girls continue to outperform their male counterparts in terms of A*-A .
A-level figures published by the Joint Council for Qualifications show 27.5% of girls’ entries achieved an A grade or higher, compared with 26.9% for boys’ entries – a gap of 0.6 percentage points.
This gap has narrowed on last year, when it was 2.2 percentage points.
And in 2019, there was no gap at all, with 25.4% of girls and boys’ A-level entries scoring an A* or A grade.
The figures cover England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Donna Stevens, chief executive of the Girls’ Schools Association said: “I’m particularly heartened to see girls championing their own futures.
“By young women making their own ambition a priority they raise opportunity for every girl in the world, acting as positive agents of change and as role models.”
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) cautioned against reading too much into gender gaps, saying: “The margins are so small.”
Asked about the impact of the last few years he said lots of young people have “been affected in different ways”.
A breakdown of the A-level data shows girls and boys are still opting for different subjects.
The top subject for boys was maths, followed by physics, economics – up to third from fifth last year – biology and chemistry.
Meanwhile, psychology remained the subject most popular among girls, followed by biology, maths, sociology and chemistry.
Ms Stevens said the difference in popularity of subjects may be due to various reasons.
She said: “It is interest to a large extent. But we also know it’s down to accessibility.
“Girls are significantly more likely to take further maths A-level or physics A-level in girls’ schools than if they’ve gone to a co-educational school.”