A-Level Results In England Show Biggest Drop on Record


A significant decline in A-level grades has been observed in England, reflecting the government’s return to pre-pandemic grading standards. Around 5,000 fewer students achieved three A* grades compared to last year, and the proportion of A*-A grades dropped from 35.9% to 26.5% within a year, with 67,000 fewer awarded this year.

In some instances, grading was stricter than even the pre-pandemic A-level exams, leading to a decrease in A*-C grades this year due to an increase in lower grades.

For the first time, over 10% of entries received E or U grades, a 10% increase from 2019. This rise may stem from more students relying on teacher-assessed GCSE results from 2021 for their A-levels.

Compared to Wales and Northern Ireland, England showed a significant disparity in top grades, with the latter regions adopting more generous grading due to the pandemic’s long-term impact.

Gillian Keegan, the education secretary, attempted to reassure students that A-level grades would fade in significance over time. Bridget Phillipson, the shadow education secretary, criticised Keegan’s remarks as “rude and dismissive,” especially given the challenges students faced during the pandemic.

Jo Saxton, head of Ofqual, defended the grade drop, asserting that the changes were comparable to those of the previous year and emphasised the protection provided to students.

While the reasons for the grade drop are debated, Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, encouraged students to be proud of their accomplishments, even though the experience might feel challenging.

Jeremy Miles, Wales’s education minister, emphasised that extra support aimed to ensure fair exams despite the difficulties students encountered.

According to UCAS, 79% of UK school-leavers secured their first-choice undergraduate courses for the upcoming term.

The proportion of A* grades in England dropped steeply to 8.6%, while the combined A* and A grades were higher by 0.7 percentage points compared to 2019. However, the proportion of entries receiving E or U grades increased from 9.2% in 2019 to 10.1% this year.

Regional disparities were evident, with London and southeast England recording a greater proportion of top grades compared to 2019, while there was a fall in the north-east England and Yorkshire and Humber regions. The gap in A*-A grades between south-east England and the north-east widened to 8 percentage points.

Mathematics remained the most popular subject among students, while economics replaced geography in the top 10 most popular subjects, with a notable 16% increase in computing entries.