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A-Level results 2021: Grades reach record high

Today (10th August 2021) saw UK students achieve record breaking results across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with 44.8% achieving grades A* or A grade.

This second year of replacement results comes after exams were cancelled early last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. These results supersede last year’s average of 38.5% of students entering the same grade bracket.

This ‘grade inflation’ means that the proportion of students entering the A-A* bracket has risen by almost 75% since the last time conventional exams were taken in 2019.

With these top grades combined with equally record-breaking figures applying for university, the competition is about to increase for places amongst the most highly demanded universities and courses.

This morning, the admissions service UCAS said a record 396,000 students have been confirmed for their first-choice course – up 8% from last year.

Dr Tim Bradshaw, who is Chief Executive of the of the Russell Group of leading universities, warned that this increase may mean that some universities ‘may not be able to accept students who narrowly missed their offer grades’.

The shift in conditions this year meant that students were assessed through a variety of assessments, including coursework and mock exams – with one in five schools having a sample of their grades checked by exam boards.

During the moderation process, 15% of schools were queried by exam boards on provisional marks, while only 1% were altered.

National Association of Head Teachers’ leader Paul Whiteman rejected challenges that queried the unfair causes of this ‘grade inflation’, stating that ‘the results in 2021 could not be compared to any other year’.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority showed that students achieving A to C grade within Scotland had also risen from the 2019 cohort, however national 5 scores (those achieving A-C grades) had dropped 89% to 85.8% from last year.

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Adelaide Cannell

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January 2022
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