A-Level Results Show Fall In Top Grades For Second Consecutive Year

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15th August 2013 11:41 - Education

After years of annual increases, the proportion of students achieving the top A-Level grades has fallen for a second consecutive year. In 2013, a little over a quarter (26.3%) of exam entries were awarded A or A* grades. In 2012 the figure was 26.6%, whilst in 2011 the figure was 27%. Despite the fall in top-end achievement, the overall pass rate has risen once again, as it has done for the past three decades. The overall pass rate now stands at 98.1% of entries. Prior to 1982, the pass rate was set at 70% of all those taking the exam.

This years A-level results suggest a rise in students opting in to science and mathematics orientated subjects. In contract, languages have generally seen a fall in uptake. German and French, for instance, have seen a drop off in the number of students choosing to study them of 11% and 10% respectively; although Spanish has actually seen a 4% rise in uptake, bucking the trend to some degree.

The A-level subject experiencing the biggest rise in entries was Economics, with the subject seeing an upsurge of 7.4% on the previous year. Chemistry, Physics, Maths and Further Maths all also improved by between 5.2% and 3%.

In the on-going examination gender battle, boys were more likely to achieve the highest A* grade (7.9% as compared to 7.4% of girls). However, females still had a higher probability than males to achieve an A or an A* (i.e. to achieve one of the two highest grades).

As of midnight on Thursday 15th August (i.e. at the beginning of results day) 385,910 students had been accepted on to university courses. This is a marked rise on the same figures from last year – up by 9% or 31,600 places. Commentators suggested this was due to government reform to ‘open up’ the system and make it easier for institutions to take on the students they want – universities are now allowed to admit as many of the top students as they want, whereas last year this figure was capped. This resulted in around 11,500 un-filled places in Russell Group universities alone last year.

From 2015, under changes proposed by the government, A-level exams will be sat after two years and AS Levels, currently taken after a year of the course and used to calculate a proportion of the overall grade, will no longer impact on a student’s final result.

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