A-Level results 2017: Joy for thousands as percentage of top grades rises for first time in six years

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Thousands of teenagers were today celebrating after the proportion of A-level students awarded top grades rose for the first time in six years.

More than one in four students scored at least one A* or A grade in the first batch of results after reforms to the qualification. 

Thirteen subjects were overhauled as courses moved away from coursework in favour of more exams in a bid to make them tougher for students.

Today’s results, published by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) also show boys have pulled further ahead at the highest grade while girls remain ahead in terms of A*-A grades.

Crunch time: Students with their results at the London Academy of Excellence

The statistics, for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, also show:

  • The overall A*-E pass-rate has fallen by 0.2 percentage points to 97.9 per cent

  • The proportion of entries awarded the highest result – A* – has risen 0.2 percentage points to 8.3 per cent

  • Among the 13 reformed subjects only, results are down slightly compared to the equivalent subjects in 2016.

When comparing 18-year-old results, the proportion of A* grades for these courses is down 0.5 percentage points to 7.2 per cent, A*-A grades have dropped 0.7 percentage points to 24.3 per cent and A*-E results have fallen 0.5 percentage points to 98.1 per cent.

Getting the grades: Philippa Kent (left) who is going to Hartford College Oxford to study Archaeology and Anthropology and Mirna Elghobashy who is going to Birmingham University to study Medicine (PA)

The 13 reformed subjects are: art and design, biology, business, chemistry, computer science, economics, English language, English language and literature, English literature, history, physics, psychology and sociology.

Figures showed a huge spike in the number of entries for a small range of subjects, including computing, with a 33 per cent rise in the number of A-level students sitting the exam in 2017, compared with last year. This included a 34 per cent increase in female students – 816, up from 609 in 2016.

There was a 12.8 per cent increase in the number taking political studies, and a 1.7 per cent rise in those taking Spanish at A-level.

But there were dips in the take-up of other languages – with a 2.1 per cent drop in those doing French and a 4.7 per cent decrease in students sitting German.

Elsewhere, entries for history – one of the most popular A-levels by number of students – fell by 8.1 per cent.


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