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Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett

17 Aug 2023


32 Read.

A-level Grading Controversy: Students Await Results Amid Changes in Assessment

The A-level grading controversy is in the spotlight as students in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland anxiously await their A-level, T-level, and BTec results. A-level results in England are expected to drop for a second consecutive year, bringing grades back in line with 2019 levels. This follows a spike in top grades in 2020 and 2021 when exams were canceled due to Covid.

A-level Grading Controversy Amid Covid Disruptions

The A-level grading controversy has been fueled by the disruptions caused by Covid. In Wales and Northern Ireland, results are expected to be higher than in 2019 but lower than in 2022.

A level Grading Controversy

The pass rate for exams in Scotland fell last week but was still higher than before the pandemic. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) has warned that spaces on some courses at top universities will “go quite quickly” on results day.

Students Advised to Have a “Plan B”

Most university applicants are expected to get their first choice of course. But students have been advised to come up with a “plan B” in case they miss their offer.

A level Grading Controversy

AS-level results will also be released, and in Wales and Northern Ireland. These will count towards a student’s final A-level result next summer.

To achieve the technical qualification, time is split between classroom learning and industry placements. Students are awarded a pass, merit, distinction, or distinction* after two years of work and study.

A-level Grading Controversy: Personal Stories of Students Awaiting Results

Lara, an 18-year-old student from London, is waiting for her A-level grades in English literature, maths, and computer science.

As a registered young carer for her younger sister, Lara is anxious about moving out of her family home to attend university. With the support of her parents, family, and the Carers Trust charity, Lara is ready to take the next step.

A-level Grading Controversy: Impact of Covid on Grading

Exams were canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid, and pupils’ grades were based on teachers’ predictions, leading to a spike in top results.


 England’s exams watchdog, Ofqual, set out a two-year plan to bring A-level and GCSE results back down to pre-pandemic levels. Last year was the first time students sat exams since the start of the pandemic. And Ofqual called it a “transition year.”

This year’s A-level students also suffered from disruption due to Covid. Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said students getting A-level and other Level 3 results had faced “unprecedented circumstances.”

The impact on pupils was not equal. And MPs have warned it could take a decade for the gap between disadvantaged pupils and others to narrow to what it was before Covid.

Universities Adjust to Grading Changes

The Association of School and College Leaders has said the government must make employers aware that different year groups have been graded differently.

Universities have taken the changes in grading into account when making offers this year, according to the Department for Education.

Grading Controversy

The number of 18-year-olds in the population is growing. So it could be more competitive to get a place at universities asking for the highest grades, like the elite Russell Group ones.

Applications to undergraduate courses from international students are also up slightly on last year.

A-level Grading Controversy: Students Await Results Amid Changes in Assessment