A-level pass rate surges to all-time high following grading U-turn

Thousands of A-level entries have been upgraded following a major U-turn on the way results are awarded.

The proportion of A-level entries receiving an A grade or higher has increased to a record high for England, with 38.1% awarded the top grades.

When this year’s results were first released last week under the controversial moderation system, some 27.6% of entries achieved an A or above.

A-Level results
A-Level results

Meanwhile, the overall pass rate for grades A* to E has also risen to an all-time high at 99.7% for England, up from the 98.2% who achieved the same in last Thursday’s results, figures provided by the exams regulator Ofqual show.

It comes after the Government announced students would be able to receive grades based on assessments by schools or colleges, rather than an algorithm, after thousands of results were downgraded on August 13.

Prior to the Government’s U-turn, exam boards had downgraded nearly two-in-five (39.1%) grades in England, according to data from Qfqual – equating to about 280,000 entries being adjusted down after moderation.

A total of 35.6% of grades were adjusted down by one grade, 3.3% were brought down by two grades and 0.2% came down by three grades.

Teachers were told to submit the grades they thought each student would have received if they had sat the papers, alongside a rank order of students, after exams were cancelled amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, exam boards moderated the grades to ensure this year’s results were not significantly higher than previously and the value of students’ grades were not undermined.

Exam results report
Exam results report

Meanwhile, approximately 15,000 students who were rejected by their first-choice university will now meet the offer conditions set for them to study after the grading U-turn.

Ucas (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) said universities had “exercised flexibility” after it analysed the results from the four largest awarding bodies for 160,000 students who received upgraded A-level marks in England.

They showed that around 100,000 of those students had already secured a place at their first-choice university on results day last Thursday.

Of the remaining 60,000 students, around one in four, approximately 15,000, will now meet the A-level offer conditions of their original first choice university, Ucas said.