Over the last four cycles of PIRLS, the gender gap in reading achievement has favored girls over boys in the majority of participating countries. In PIRLS 2016, girls outperformed boys in 48 out of the 50 countries, reflecting a pattern seen in research.140 Similar results favoring girls were found in the ePIRLS assessment of online informational reading.


Students at different ages may perform differently on PIRLS depending on their academic history. In countries where students are admitted to primary school strictly on the basis of age, older students may be more skilled in reading comprehension compared to younger peers because of greater maturation. However, depending on retention policies, older students who have been held back may struggle more with reading comprehension than students who have not been held back.