The A-level and GCSE results are in …

The long awaited month which is August brought in variable results for A-level and GCSE students across the UK.  The results verify the impact of this year’s notable changes in education policy and implicate what is to come over the next few years as more changes are set to take place.


The overall A-level pass rate dropped this year for the first time in 30 years. Many claim this is a direct consequence of the removal of the January exams. Only 26% A-level students in England and Wales attained A*-C, falling short of the average of their counterparts in Northern Ireland who achieved 30% of these grades. However, despite the drop in A-level results, UCAS reported that universities continued to accept students, reaching a record number of 500, 0000 places. UCAS also reported an 8% increase in the number of students accepted into universities from disadvantaged areas.

This year Maths overtook English as the most popular A-level. There was a considerable shift in more students taking Maths, Chemistry and Physics, which exam board officials attribute to students trying to secure places at top universities that strongly favour traditional subjects. The number of pupils taking STEM subjects rose for the fifth year in a row, with the number of students taking Maths increasing from 1% to 1.5% – a trend welcomed by government officials and business leaders alike.

As the gender gap remains and women continue to outperform men, it also appears that more women are taking STEM subjects than ever before. However, although Biology is still the third most popular A-level, and there was a 3% increase in students taking Chemistry and Physics A-levels, key stakeholders from the STEM community emphasised that more work is needed to harness this interest from A-level to university and beyond, for both men and women.


This year the proportion of students achieving A*-C rose to 68.8% from 68.1% in 2013. However, the overall, A*-G pass rate fell to 98.5% from 98.8%, marking another year of a declining pass rateThis year saw a higher number of boys achieving A*grades over girls. However, the gender gap remains and similar to A-levels, girls continue to outperform boys – the female A*- C rate was 73.1% compared to boys who achieved 64.3%. Interestingly, boys continue to outperform girls at Biology and Chemistry, whereas girls continue to outperform boys in Physics as the gap increased by 0.1%.