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Highest A-Level results in six years despite more difficult exams

Were the exams harder on paper inside and outside their sitting this year? Source: Flickr

by Abi Dunbridge

This years A-level results see more than 1 in 4 pupils awarded with the highest grades of A* or A. This is its highest level of A-level results since 2012. However, critics have accused regulators, claiming that these grades may not have been achieved fairly.

This is because grade boundaries have been set lower than they were in recent years to stop results from dropping. An example of this problem arising is with a physics paper setting the boundary for a C grade at 39 percent, compared to 2016 when the grade boundary was 60 percent.

2016 was the last year before a government overhaul of education, designed to make A-levels more rigorous for students. Michael Gove, the previous Education Secretary, initiated the alterations for A-level students, taking away the popular AS and A2 qualifications in order to create increased difficulty. As a result, students would sit their exams only at the end of their two-year course.

Gove has also been responsible for scrapping coursework, a previously popular choice amongst students which helped apply A-Levels to a wider variety of students and their varying skills. Therefore, the new changes arguably place more pressure onto students for their final exams.

Ofqual, the exams regulator, claim measures were taken to ensure students were not ‘disadvantaged’ by the new system in comparison to recent years by lowering grade boundaries. An Ofqual spokesperson claims ‘boundaries were set using statistics to carry forward standards’, to ensure the change in the structure of A-Levels would not effect this year’s students’ grades.

It was also recorded that Russell Group University entry requirements lowered in clearing more than in recent years in an attempt to fill places. Hence, critics discuss how, despite the miraculous A-Level grades for 2018, they may not necessarily be fair.

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