Big drop in top A-level grades after exams return

Big drop in top A-level grades after exams return

Overall university admissions are up despite the fall in top gradesFLICKR /

The number of top A-Level grades has fallen since last year, as the first cohort of students to sit exams since the start of the pandemic got their results. 

This year 36.4% of grades were As or A*s, down from 45% in 2021 – a drop of 60,000.

Nevertheless, the number of A–A* grades awarded this year remains 11% above its equivalent in 2019, before the pandemic disrupted education and assessment.

This follows the government’s announcement that they intended to reduce grade-inflation caused by Covid over two years, meaning we should expect a return to ‘normal’ next year.

Despite the drop, the number of 18-year-olds now holding confirmed offers to attend university is up even compared to 2019 – many students deferred their places last year.

James Cleverly, the education secretary, said: “what we’ve seen is two-thirds of students getting their first or reserve place at university and that is great”.

The minister also said that the reduction in the number of students getting top grades was part of the government’s plan to bring grades back down towards pre-pandemic levels, describing the drop as “right and proper”.

Historic demographic trends in the results continued this year. Girls once again outperformed boys, with 37.4% receiving A or A* grades, compared to 35.2% of boys.

This represents an increase compared to 2019, when the equivalent figures were 25.5% and 25.4% for girls and boys respectively.

Independent schools also continued to outperform maintained ones, with 58% of private school entries scoring As or higher, down from 70% last year.

This was in contrast to 30.7% of comprehensive school entries receiving As or A*s this year, whilst 35% of grades at academies were As or higher. At grammar schools, meanwhile, the equivalent figure was over 50%.

Akrit Agarwal contributed reporting.

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