A-level pass rate falls to lowest level in eight years

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The A-level pass rate has dropped to its lowest level since 2010, with boys leading girls in the top grades for the second year running.

Figures show there has been a 1% drop in the number of students seeking places at universities and many institutions are making places available on courses through the clearing process.

More than half a million students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland received their results, with total of 26.4% entrants scored either an A or A*. This is the highest figure since 2012.

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However, the overall pass rate (grades A*-E) was 97.6%, down from 97.9% last year. This is the lowest pass rate since 2010, when it was also 97.6%.

There have been major changes to A-levels in England, with a move away from coursework and modular exams throughout courses.

Last year the first grades were awarded in the first 13 subjects to be reformed and, among these subjects alone, the proportion of entries scoring at least an A grade fell by 0.7 percentage points to 24.3%.

A further 11 subjects have been reformed, with the first grades awarded this year.

A group of students at a college in Edgbaston, Birmingham
Image: Boys are doing slightly better than girls

There have been concerns that changes to A-levels were leading to a rise in anxiety and stress in young people preparing for their exams.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said the reforms meant teenagers would be sitting fewer public exams.

“We all have much more awareness these days about mental health in young people and the government is putting a lot of emphasis on that, both in the health service overall but also specifically in education,” he said.

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“We’ve had our mental health in young people Green Paper recently and a number of reforms are coming through. Universities are looking a lot more closely as well and that is quite right.

“One thing I would say is that the reforms to A-levels mean fewer exams for many young people because you can do an A-level without having to do big public exams at the end of the lower sixth.”

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Maths was the most popular subject taken by students, but STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) are also continuing to rise in popularity.

Boys are still more likely to study a STEM subject than girls, but the balance is shifting – with 43% of girls taking these subjects, compared to 57% of boys.

From – SkyNews

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