A level results produced slight dip in top grades

A level results day is here! I hope those who are getting their results today are have met their targets or bettered them, and I hope you’re pleased with your results 🙂

Figures show, however, that there has been a fall in the proportion of A-levels awarded top grades for the second year in a row, after years of steady increases.

Just over a quarter of exam entries – 26.3% – were given A or A* grades, a slight fall on 2012’s figure of 26.6%. Previously, the proportion getting top grades had risen year on year.

More than 300,000 teenagers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are finding out their A-level results, as universities compete to attract them.

The national breakdown of results shows the overall pass rate rose marginally – to 98.1%. It has been rising for about 30 years.

As expected, the results show more students are opting to do A-levels in maths and science and there is a continued fall in those taking French and German, down by 10% and 11% respectively. However, Spanish bucks that trend and has seen an increase in entries of 4%. For some people I guess this may be disappointing, but with holidays and other industries becoming more expensive, it could be said that there is less reason to want learn other languages.

Economics was the subject that saw the biggest rise in entries – up 7.4%. Chemistry rose by 5.2% and physics by 3.1%. Maths rose by just under 3% and further maths by 4.5%.

While I don’t believe in comparing the genders, there are some statistics published making these comparisons as well.

Girls are still more likely than boys to get an A* or an A, but boys this year were slightly more likely to get the highest grade – A*. A total of 7.9% of boys’ entries got an A*, compared with 7.4% of those of girls.

When As and A*s are grouped together, girls perform best – with 26.7% of their entries hitting this mark, compared with 25.9% for those of boys.

I suppose from all this the government shouldn’t be too downhearted about all this. While it’s fair to say that the percentage of those getting top grades has fallen, it’s not a drastic drop and it could be coined a ‘minor fluctuation’. What the government will most likely be disappointed in is the downward decline of MFL subjects being taken at A level, with the exception of Spanish. It’s nice to see the sciences and maths reporting an increase, particularly if we can persuade students taking those into teaching it, which will certainly help plug the gap in the supposed shortfall of teachers of these subjects.

But what does this all mean for our universities? Well despite the drop, university admissions body UCAS has said the numbers being accepted by UK universities has hit a record high. As of midnight, 385,910 students had been accepted, 31,600 more than at the same point last year and a rise of 9%. Unsurprisingly the government, in particular Universities Minister David Willetts, are trying to take the credit for this by claiming that their reforms were responsible for this increase, although this is just an election ploy to justify their existence in my opinion.

Across the UK, teenagers in Northern Ireland continue to do best – with 83.5% of entries scoring between an A* and a C and 30.7% getting an A or A*. In Wales, the figures are 75.2% and 22.9% respectively and in England, they are 77% and 26.3%. This means that you could say we’ve slightly outperformed Wales but seem to be lagging behind Northern Ireland, who have been relatively consistent over the past few years.

Of course there is one thing we all are probably aware of. From 2015 the government plans to change A-levels so that the AS-level will no longer count towards the final A-level grade and all exams will be taken at the end of two years. This dangerous ploy could make or break our education system so who knows what can be expected come 2017 when the first results come out. Nervous times if you ask me.


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