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Summer 2017 exam entry statistics published (England)

Ofqual has today published provisional statistics on the number of entries by age group and subject for GCSEs, level 1 / 2 certificates, AS and A levels in England for the summer 2017 exam series.

Key findings

GCSE entries over time

  • GCSE entries in 2017 increased by more than three per cent from 4,932,600 in 2016 to 5,098,050 in 2017
  • The largest increases were seen in EBacc subjects, particularly English language (increase of 52 per cent) and English literature (increase of 48 per cent). The removal of level 1/2 certificates from performance tables has encouraged centres to move students back to GCSE qualifications in these subjects. In the reformed GCSEs, English literature GCSE is now the main route to gain a qualification containing literature. This, coupled with the way in which Progress 8 measures are calculated this year, explains the increased uptake of English Literature
  • Main percentage decreases in 2017 entries compared with 2016 were science (-26 per cent), German (-12 per cent), French (-10 per cent%) and Spanish (-3 per cent).

GCSE EBacc and non-EBacc subjects

  • Overall in 2017 entries in EBacc subjects increased (by nine per cent) and entries in all non-EBacc decreased (by 11 per cent) compared with 2016
  • This overall decline indicates that centres are focusing more on the delivery of EBacc subjects than those subjects which do not count towards the EBacc. Progress 8 and Attainment 8 measures are also likely to be influencing these patterns because their calculation can only include a maximum of three non-EBacc GCSEs.

GCSE entries by year group over time

  • GCSE entries are mostly from year 11 students. Entries from both year 11 and year 12 and above have increased in 2017 compared with 2016; while entries from year 10 and below have fallen overall
  • English language entries
    • Year 11: an increase of 60 per cent, which is most likely because of schools who would previously have entered Level 1/2 certificates moving back to GCSE
    • Year 12 and above: an increase of 23 per cent, which is likely to be a result of the government's requirement for full-time students who do not hold a grade C in English GCSE or equivalent to continue to study towards achieving this
    • Year 10 and below: an increase of 605 per cent (to 14,700), which changed the direction of what was seen between 2015 and 2016 where entries had fallen.
  • English literature entries
    • Entries in year 11 increased by 43 per cent in 2017, which is likely to be because of the move back from Level 1/2 certificates to GCSE and also the effect of the Progress 8 measure
    • Entries from year 10 and below increased by over 3000 per cent (to 22,150), which is likely to be because of students moving back from Level 1/2 certificates to GCSE.
    • Year 12 and above increased by 44% in 2017.
  • Mathematics entries
    • Entries from year 11 students are similar to previous years
    • There was an increase of six per ceny from year 12 - likely as a result of the requirement for full-time students who do not hold a grade C to study towards achieving this
    • There was a 62 per cent drop from year 10 and below in 2017. 

AS level entries

  • AS entries have dropped substantially (by 42 per cent from 1,143,950 in 2016 to 660,200 in 2017) and are now fewer than A level
  • Other than further mathematics, which remained stable, and mathematics, which saw a small decrease of two per cent, the entries in most other subjects saw substantial decreases
  • Some of the largest percentage decreases were in engineering (-78 per cent), performing/expressive arts (-75 per cent) and drama (-65 per cent)
  • These falls in AS entries are because of a number of factors, including the decoupling of AS from A levels as part of the government's policy reforms of AS and A levels, funding for 16 to 19, and centres being more likely to enrol students onto three subjects in year 12 rather than four subjects.

A level entries

  • Overall entries for all A level subjects remained broadly stable, with an increase of less than one per cent from 785,900 in 2016 to 786,050 in 2017
  • The most notable increases in entry were seen in science (+44 per cent), computing (+34 per cent) and political studies (+14 per cent)
  • The biggest percentage decreases were seen in critical thinking (-50 per cent), general studies (-39 per cent) and ICT (-20 per cent)
  • The drop in ICT could be because of this being the last year when this qualification is available and may also account for the increase in computing. 

About the data

  • This release presents figures on the number of entries for GCSEs, Level 1/2 certificates, AS and A levels submitted to exam boards for the exams being sat in summer 2017. These figures are provisional and represent the number of entries submitted by schools and colleges to exam boards by 19 April 2017
  • In this report, all figures for the number of entries are rounded to the nearest 50 to aid understanding
  • Background information accompanying this report includes factors that may have an impact on the entries in 2017 as well as information on data collected for this release and definitions of important terms used in the report
  • Data tables published along with this report give provisional entry data (rounded to the nearest 10) for different subjects broken down by year group for GCSE, Level 1/2 certificates, AS and A levels.