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Provisional national results for A-levels and AS qualifications

The 2016 provisional national results for A-levels and AS qualifications have been published today by the Joint Council for Qualifications. These results follow two significant policy changes: the AS in reformed subjects has been decoupled from the A-level in England; and there are new AS specifications in England and Wales in the following subjects:

Art & Design, Biology, Business Studies, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, English Literature, English Language, English Literature and Language, History, Physics, Psychology, Sociology and Welsh First Language.

Some of the key results are outlined below:

AS level:

  • Total UK entries for AS qualifications dropped 13.7% when compared with last year. When comparing reformed subjects in England taken by 17 year olds, the extent of the decline in AS entries varies significantly across subjects - between 10.9% in Computer Science and 38.4% in Art & Design.
  • The drop in entries to AS subjects was expected due to the decoupling of AS and A-level qualifications. It isn’t clear from the data why entries to some subjects have decreased to a greater than others, although it could possibly be related to whether or not candidates studied the subject at GCSE.
  • When looking at the total UK AS results, the proportion of A grades has increased by 1.1 percentage points since 2015 to 21.3%. At A-E the increase is 0.7 percentage points to 90.1%.
  • Looking at year-on-year outcomes for the England reformed AS subjects, there is no change to the percentage of pupils achieving a grade A (16.8%) and a small increase of 0.2 percentage points at A-E (to 88.3%).
  • Looking at all UK candidates, 21.5% of boys achieved A grades, compared to 21.1% of boys. This represents a 0.1 percentage point widening of the gender gap and a reversal of the situation last year, when fewer boys than girls achieved A grades (20% compared to 20.5% respectively.)  

A level:

  • The number of entries for A-levels declined 1.7%, compared to an overall 3.1% decline in the number of 18 year olds in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • A decrease was seen in entries to some creative subjects, with entries to performing/expressive arts down 15.3% and entries to music down 8.8%.
  • The proportion of A*s being awarded at A-level in 2016 was 0.1 percentage points lower than in 2015 (8.1% compared to 8.2%). At grades A*-A, there was also a 0.1 percentage point fall (25.8% compared to 25.9%). At A*-E the figure remained unchanged at 98.1%.
  • Entries in Modern Foreign Languages continued to decline. Entries to French were down 6.4%; German down 4.2%; and Spanish down 2.7%. Despite rises in previous years, other Modern Foreign Languages also saw a decline of 1.8%.
  • Computing had the largest increase in entries of 16%. 
  • The proportion of A*s awarded in French, German and Spanish all increased. In French, the figure rose 0.7 percentage points to 8.8%; in German it rose 1.3 percentage points to 9.6%; and in Spanish it was up 0.3 percentage points to 8.4%.
  • Overall, A-level results are relatively stable compared with last year.
  • Looking at all UK candidates, 8.5% of boys  achieved an A*, compared to 7.7% of girls. This represents a narrowing of the gap between genders in A* achievement by 0.1% since 2015.  
  • Looking at all UK candidates, 25.9% of girls achieved A grades, compared to 25.8% of boys. This represents a narrowing of the gap between genders in A grade achievement by 0.1% since 2015.