The average point score per entry for A-levels, as a grade, remained stable at C+ this year, but the proportion of students getting the top grades fell, according to provisional data released today by the Department for Education.
As a number the average point score this year was slightly higher at 33.05, compared to 32.12 in 2017.
But the proportion of students who achieved 3 A*-A or better and AAB or better dropped in 2018, at 12.5 per cent and 20.6 per cent respectively, compared to 13.0 per cent and 21.8 per cent in 2017.
The overall number of A-level students dropped by 6 per cent this year compared to 2017, which was a greater drop than the fall in the potential 16-18 cohort (1.7 per cent).
The government said this fall in A-level students could be explained by the decrease in AS level entries as result of A-level reforms since September 2015, when they became standalone linear qualifications with the AS no longer counts towards the A-level.
Still more girls than boys, and gender gap closing
There continued to be more female than male A-level students this year. In 2018, 54.4 per cent of A level students were females and 45.6 per cent were male, a situation which remains stable compared to last year.
A higher proportion of male students achieved 3 A*-A grades or better (13.8 per cent) and AAB grades or better (21.2 per cent) compared to females, who achieved 11.5 per cent and 20.1 per cent respectively.
However, the gender gap in these measures dropped to 2.3 percentage points and 1.1 percentage points in 2018, compared to 2.7 percentage points and 1.7 percentage points in 2017.
More girls entered one or more A levels (77.6 per cent) compared to boys (73.5 per cent), but a higher proportion of boys (17.8 per cent) achieved AAB grades or better, where at least two of the grades are in ‘facilitating subjects’ (those recommended by the government as most often wanted by universities), than girls (14.4 per cent).
The gender gap in this measure was at its lowest since 2016, dropping to 3.4 percentage points, compared to 4.2 percentage points in 2017.
UTCs still have lowest scores
The average point score for A level students by institution types was lowest in university technical colleges again this year, at 20.05 or a D grade, which was slightly lower than last year when it was 20.7.
UTCs were followed by studio schools, with an average point score of 21.18 per entry for A level students, also equivalent to a D.
The Department for Education noted that “care should also be taken when comparing across institution types due to significant differences in cohort sizes and number of schools”.
Both UTCs and studio schools had relatively small cohorts of A level students, at 1,531 and 376 students respectively.
Independent schools had the highest average point score, at 41.02 or a B grade, continuing the pattern from previous years.
Free schools followed with an average score of 36.01, or B-, but there were only 20 free schools overall with students at the end of level 3.
Computer science and maths see entry numbers increase
In 2018 the number of students who entered A level maths and science subjects increased across all subjects.
Computer science saw the biggest proportional increase in students this year, with 25.9 per cent more than in 2017 (9,269 compared to 7,364 students).
The number of A level students entering each of the A level maths and science subjects as a proportion of all A level students also increased across all subjects this year.
The largest increase was in maths, where the proportion of students entering increased by 2.5 percentage points, from 24.4 per cent of all A level students to 26.9 per cent, compared to 2017.