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Latest research and data from Ofqual

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Ofqual has released provisional figures on the number of entries for GCSEs, AS and A levels submitted by schools and colleges in England to exam boards for qualifications being taken in summer 2018. The full summary can be found here.

Key findings:


  • The overall entry for GCSEs in England in summer 2018 increased slightly (just under 1%) from 5,098,030 in 2017 to 5,136,495 in 2018 – this is driven by the increase in Ebacc entries
  • Entries in EBacc subjects increased by 5% compared to 2017 - this increase is likely due to the introduction of reformed separate sciences and combined double science and the removal of science and additional science and further additional science.
    • Combined science entries increased by 15.7% this year, biology entries increased by 23.6%, chemistry entries increased by 20.8% and physics entries increased by 19%. 
    • Modern foreign languages remained relatively stable compared to previous years (where there have been significant decreases) with German and Spanish entries increasing (by around 3% and 8% respectively) and only a slight decrease in French entries (-1%).
    • Entries to English literature decreased by 2.4% and mathematics decreased by 1.4% this year.
    • Entries to history increased by 3%, and entries to geography increased by 5.8%.
  • Entries in non-EBacc subjects decreased by 13% compared to 2017; decreases were seen across all non-EBacc subjects (except art and design) in 2018
    • The largest changes in the number of entries are in humanities and further additional science which are now discontinued as part of the overall reform process.
    • R.S entries declined by 12.6%, music declined by 7.4% and drama declined 5.4% compared to last year
  • In mathematics there has been an increase in the proportion of entries to the foundation tier since 2017; with a 9 percentage point increase in the number of students entered for the foundation tier (increasing from 47% in 2017 to 56% in 2018).
    • This is likely due to all students (including those in year 12 and above) having to take the reformed qualifications in 2018. 
  • For the separate sciences and German, the majority of the candidates are entered for the higher tier.



A Levels

  • Overall entries for all AS subjects fell by almost 60% from 659,880 in 2017 to 269,090 in 2018. This continues the trend which was seen in 2016 and 2017 and is largely due to the decoupling of AS from A levels
  • Overall A level entries have dropped slightly by 3% since 2017.
  • The most notable increases in A Level entry were in computing (25.6%), the sciences (Physics, 4.1%; chemistry, 4.2%; biology, 3.5%) and mathematics (3.1%).
  • The largest percentage decreases were seen in small entry subjects and those which are available for the last time this year, including engineering (95.1%), science (60.8%), leisure (53%) and general studies (51.6%)



About the data

  • This report presents provisional figures on the number of entries for GCSEs, AS and A levels submitted by schools and colleges in England to exam boards by 18 April 2018 for qualifications being taken in summer 2018.
  • Combined science entries include science and additional science from 2017 and a double weighted count of entries to combined science in 2018 to allow comparison.


First published 09 April 2018