Overall, A-Level pass rates have edged up slightly

A*-A passes were up slightly (26.3% of all awards v 25.8% last year), though the overall A*-E pass rate was down slightly (97.9% v 98.1%).

The proportion of A*s awarded was also up – to 8.3% of all awards, versus 8.1% last year.

However, in England the percentage of 18-year-olds achieving A*-A grades in reformed subjects fell from 25.0% to 24.3%, whilst the equivalent percentage in non-reformed subjects rose from 29.6% to 30.6%. This suggests that the cohort of students entered for reformed subjects in 2017 may have had lower prior attainment than the cohort who entered those subjects last year.

A-Level entry numbers are fairly stable

Overall A-Level entry numbers were down from 837,000 to 828,000 this year, a reduction of 1.0%. But there was a 1.7% reduction in the size of the population of 18-year-olds, so the fall may be smaller than expected.


And while we think that students are now starting to take three, rather than four, A-Level courses for a number of reasons including post-16 funding, it looks like this may not filter through into A-Level entry numbers until next year.

Entry numbers for AS-Levels are down much more sharply

The big story is really the drop in the number of AS-Levels.

Overall, the number of AS-Level entries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland decreased by around 468,000, or 39.1%, from 1,196,000 to 728,000  – on top of a 13.7% decline we’d seen last year.

The drop is driven by what is going on in England – with the decoupling of AS- and A-Levels leading to AS-Levels being abandoned en masse.

In geography, AS-Level entries were down 50%; in biology they were down 55%; while in psychology down 56%, to look at just three examples.

The impact of this decoupling is something that we will consider in a post to follow shortly – to make sure you don’t miss it, sign up to our blogpost mailing list using the link below.

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