18th August 2017

Despite the introduction of tougher exams, British sixth formers have achieved some of the best A-level results seen for several years.

The format of A level assessment has changed this year, making it harder to achieve the highest grades. 13 subjects, including English Language, History and Physics, are now assessed primarily by exam, with less emphasis on course work, which made them more challenging. Over the next few years, all subjects will be assessed this way. A further change is that AS levels have also been decoupled from A levels.

Students with exam results

In summary, recent (17 August 2017) A level results show:

  • Overall UK pass rate is 97.9%, remaining stable since 2009.
  • 26.3% of entries were awarded A* or A, an increase on last year.
  • Maths remains the most popular A level subject, followed by combined English Literature and Language.
  • The proportion of all entries in science, technology, engineering and technology (STEM) has increased.
  • The number of entries of facilitating subjects (those offering a wider choice of degree subjects e.g. Maths, Geography and Physics) has increased.
  • The percentage of entries awarded the top grade at AS level has increased to 23.8%.

In England, the boys achieved a higher percentage of top grades in the changed A-level subjects than the girls, whose results have declined significantly compared with previous years.

Considering all subjects, 26.6 per cent of boys attained A*-A grades compared to 26.1 per cent of girls. This is the first year boys have been ahead.

School Standards Minister, Nick Gibb, said:
“There has been a strong uptake in core subjects, such as Maths, which continues to be the most popular A level with Maths and Further Maths having nearly 25% more entries than in 2010. This and increasing entries to science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects bodes well for the economic prosperity of our country. It will help to grow our workforce in these sectors, allowing young people to secure well-paid jobs and compete in the global jobs market of post Brexit Britain.”

Independent schools have had yet another successful year regarding A-Level results. The last time league tables were produced, as many as 9 of the top 10 performing schools for A-level results were independent schools. St Pauls Girls’ School had over 54% of their pupils scoring A+. The independent sector, as a whole, boasted an average of 37.3% of their students achieving AAB or better.

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