A-level results 2023

A-level results 2023: Which subjects saw the biggest drop in top grades?

Top grades in some A-level subjects are still far higher than the pre-Covid benchmark, despite overall drops

Top grades in some A-level subjects are still far higher than the pre-Covid benchmark, despite overall drops

17 Aug 2023, 14:51

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A-level results shows grading in some subjects are yet to fall back to 2019 standards

Top grades in some A-level subjects are still far higher than in 2019, despite an overall record drop compared with last year.

In 2022, 35.9 per cent of entries were graded A*-A. This fell to 26.5 per cent this year.

The drop had been anticipated given the return to pre-pandemic grading standards.

But none of the most popular A-level courses saw top grades fall all the way back to the 2019 benchmark.

Several subjects, including computing, continue to have far higher proportions of top grade entries.

Here are the key findings from results published by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) this morning.

1. Which A-level subjects had the most top grades?

Of the 15 most popular A-level subjects, maths again had the highest proportion of A and A* grades (41 per cent this year).

This was followed by chemistry (31.1 per cent), art and design subjects and physics (both 30.8 per cent).

A-level subjects with the highest proportions of top grades

2. Which subjects had the fewest top grades?

Of the most popular A-level subjects this year, media, film and TV studies had the lowest proportion of A and A* grades (12.6 per cent).

This was followed by business studies (15.2 per cent), sociology (18.6 per cent), psychology (18.8 per cent) and computing (21.7 per cent).

A-Level subjects with the lowest proportion of top grades

3. Which subjects saw the biggest fall in results?

Media, film and TV studies saw the biggest percentage fall in top grades compared to last year, at 46.4 per cent.

Last year, nearly a quarter of entries (23.5 per cent) were A* or A in the subject, compared to 12.6 per cent this year.

This was followed by computing, with a fall of 38.2 per cent, and business studies with a drop of 37.7 per cent.

A-level subjects with the biggest change in top grades since 2022

4. Which A-level subjects saw the smallest fall?

Maths, which saw the least inflation to grades under teacher assessments in 2021, saw the smallest fall in top grades this year at 13.1 per cent.

Last year, nearly half (47.2 per cent) of entries gained an A or above, compared with 41 per cent this year.

A-level subjects with the smallest change in top grades since 2022

5. So which subjects are furthest away from the 2019 benchmark?

This year, exams watchdog Ofqual instructed exam boards to bring grades down again so they returned to pre-pandemic 2019 standards.

But some of the top 15 most popular A-level subjects are still a way off the 2019 benchmark in terms of top grades.

This was most apparent in computing. A and above grades for entries in the subject were 23.3 per cent higher this year than in 2019.

A-level subjects with biggest rise in top grades since 2019

6. And which subjects are the closest to pre-pandemic standards?

But other subjects are far closer to 2019 benchmarks. Economics is closest to pre-Covid in terms of the proportion of entries receiving top grades.

In 2019, 28.7 per cent of entries gained A or above grades, compared with 29 per cent this year.

A-level subjects with the smallest rise in top grades since 2019

7. How top grades have changed for the 15 most popular A-levels

Overall top grades by A-level subject

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3 Comments

  1. Nicholas Marshall

    So, the story is clear. Schools vastly inflated grades during the pandemic and OFQUAL failed in their duty. They should have run the algorithms and then approached schools to address outliers. But they didn’t and Williamson did not have a clue what he was doing.

  2. DaveB CS Teacher

    My high ability CS students were disappointed this year and most failed to get their first choice uni. Up to their exams, they were regularly hitting A/A*. Why was there so fewer top grades and such a fall in top grades for CS. I cannot comprehend why they’ve been effectively ‘penalised after working so hard for so long.