A-level results 2018: Business studies surges in popularity but geography declines

Business studies has had a surge in popularity among this year’s A-level pupils as traditional favourites like geography begin to lose ground.

A total of 32,867 pupils in the UK took business studies at A-level, an increase of 9.5 per cent on last year with more male and female students opting for the course.

Provisional results suggest 15.2 per cent of business studies pupils have achieved an A* or A. This is exactly the same proportion that hit the top grades in the subject last year.

Mark Bedlow, OCR’s director of regulation and business performance, said it is “quite difficult to be specific about what is driving entries in individual subjects”, but this year “candidates are really thinking about the qualifications that they need to equip them for their careers”.

The normally popular geography A-level has experienced a slump in entries as 11.3 per cent fewer pupils opted for the course this year, down to 33,538 from 37,814.

However, those taking the course are expected to do well, with 24.9 per cent achieving A* or A, despite a decline from last year’s 26.7 per cent.

Geography still makes it into the top 10 of the most popular subjects overall, ranking at number 10 with 4.1 per cent of total entries.

A-level politics has continued to grow in popularity.  Last year’s results showed 11.7 per cent more pupils had opted for the subject, and this year it increased by a further 2.5 per cent.

There has been a continued decline in the proportion of pupils opting to study A-level history with a fall of 2.7 per cent, adding to last year’s eight per cent drop. Despite this, history remains one of the most popular subjects, attracting six per cent of all entries.

Maths has remained the most popular subject, attracting 12 per cent of all entries. The proportion of pupils taking maths grew by 2.5 per cent to 97,627.

Since 2010, schools have been encouraged to prioritise academic subjects like history through changes to the performance league tables, including a focus on the so-called “facilitating subjects” which reflect those in the English Baccalaureate (maths, English, sciences, languages, history and geography).

The overall number of A-level entries has continued to fall, although at a slower rate than the fall in the number of 18 year olds in the UK. In 2018 there were 811,776 entries in the UK, a drop of 2 per cent on 2017, although the drop in the population of 18 year olds was 3.5 per cent.

Top A-level subject increases in UK (changes from 2017-18)

  1. Computing: 23.9 per cent
  2. Business studies: 9.5 per cent
  3. Chemistry: 3.4 per cent
  4. = Physics: 3.4 per cent
  5. Biology: 3.1 per cent
  6. = Other modern languages: 3.1 per cent
  7. Political studies: 2.5 per cent
  8. = Maths: 2.5 per cent
  9. Economics: 2.4 per cent
  10. Psychology: 1.8 per cent

 

Top A-level subject decreases in UK (changes from 2017-18)

  1. ICT: -25.8 per cent
  2. Religious Studies: -21.3 per cent
  3. English Language: -14.8 per cent
  4. English Language & Literature: -12.5 per cent
  5. Classical subjects: -12 per cent
  6. Geography: 11.3 per cent
  7. French: -8 per cent
  8. Design and Technology: -7.8 per cent
  9. Media/Film/TV studies: -5.8 per cent
  10. Drama: -5.7 per cent

 

Most popular A-level subjects in 2018 by entry

  1. Maths: 12 per cent
  2. Biology: 7.9 per cent
  3. Psychology: 7.4 per cent
  4. Chemistry: 6.7 per cent
  5. History: 6 per cent
  6. English Literature: 5.5 per cent
  7. Art and Design subjects: 5.3 per cent
  8. Physics: 4.7 per cent
  9. Sociology: 4.3 per cent
  10. Geography: 4.1 per cent