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Almost six in ten students improved GCSE grades in autumn exams

autumn exams


Almost 60 per cent of students who took autumn exams in GCSE subjects other than English and maths improved on their grades issued in the summer, new data shows.

The Joint Council for Qualifications has published results for all remaining GCSE exams taken in the autumn. English language and maths results were published in January, and A-level results were published in December.

The autumn exam series was established to offer pupils who felt their centre-assessment grades issued in the summer were unfair the opportunity to sit an actual test.

Analysis by exams regulator Ofqual of the results for the remaining GCSE subjects found that just under 60 per cent of students who entered improved their grade compared with the summer.

Twenty-five per cent achieved the same grade, and 15 per cent saw their grade fall. Those who didn’t improve their grade can keep the ones they received in the summer.

The proportion of pupils who improved their grades was higher for the remaining GCSE subjects than it was for English and maths (45 per cent) and for A-levels (around 50 per cent), Ofqual said.

These differences are “likely to reflect the nature of students entering in the autumn series, and students’ motivation for entering different qualifications”, Ofqual said.

Overall, over a third of entrants to remaining GCSE subjects achieved a grade 7 or above. In comparison, 21.9 per cent achieved a 7 or above in 2019, and 27.6 per cent scored a top grade in 2020 after the government switched to issuing centre-assessment grades.

Over 15 per cent achieved a grade 9 in the remaining subjects in the autumn.

Ofqual said the outcomes were “likely to reflect the nature of the students entering in the autumn series, and the subjects that they have entered”, and that the results “can’t really be compared to results in a summer series”.

Only 15,000 entries were made to the GCSE autumn series, compared to over 3.7 million in a typical series.

The majority of students entering the GCSE subjects last autumn – over 80 per cent – took just one subject. Ofqual said this suggested that students “have generally been selective about their entries”.

The proportion of top grades issued for the autumn GCSE series varied by subject. In art and design subjects, just 10 per cent achieved a grade 7 or above, while 90.8 per cent achieved top grades in “other modern languages”.



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