With this year’s students being the first to fully complete exams since 2019, it was inevitable that a lot of attention would be paid to those who were expecting their A Level and International Baccalaureate results in this summer. The interruption that students in Year 13 and Grade 12 experienced as a result of the pandemic and the impact of online learning as a result of Covid 19 have both received considerable attention.
However, given that their education was suspended for two years, this is also applicable to this year’s GCSE and IGCSE students. They are also quite significant because the results of these tests will determine for many students which courses they can choose during their final two years of school.
There was a lot of speculating on how the “grade inflation” seen since 2019 would be addressed in the period leading up to the results for A Levels, BTEC, and other programs (including the IB Diploma and Career-related Program). The International Baccalaureate Organization, OFQUAL, and the Exams Regulator in the UK had all made it clear that steps would be taken to reduce grades to roughly a midpoint between the 2019 results (when students last took exams) and the grades for 2021, which were significantly higher as a result of exam grades being assigned by students’ schools for two years in a row.
In accordance with the government’s objectives to gradually restore performance to pre-pandemic levels, last Thursday’s A Level results awarded in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland showed top grades down by 8.4 percentage points on the previous year’s record results, while A*s alone declined by 4.5 points.
A* and A grades were earned by just under 36% of A-level applicants in England in 2022 as opposed to 44.3% in 2021. The number of top-performing pupils earning three A*s at A-level has decreased from 12,865 last year to 8,570 this year. The proportion of A*s and As increased from 25.4% in 2019 to 36.4% in 2022, and in the three years since the last exam, the share of A*s increased by almost seven percentage points, from 7.7% to 14.6%. Nevertheless, overall scores were higher than pre-pandemic levels.
A similar scenario is anticipated for this year’s GCSE and IGCSE examinations with a record decrease anticipated this week, given that the Exam Boards obviously did follow through on the demand to start off on a path back towards the pre-pandemic results.
Professor Alan Smithers of the University of Buckingham’s Centre for Education and Employment Research has conducted an analysis that predicts a 230,000 decrease in the number of outcomes that are Grades 9 to 7, which are equivalent to an A* or an A. An estimated 75,000 students, who would have received top grades last year, would be impacted by such a drop in performance.
The Grade 9 population, which increased by 64% between 2019 and 2021, is anticipated to have the worst fall. 76,000 fewer awards would be given out this year than last if the proportion awarded was cut in half. Grades 7 and above are anticipated to make up about a quarter of all grades this year, down from almost a third last year. Even so, this will be better than 2019, when just about a fifth of outcomes obtained the highest marks. The pass rate from last year, which was 77.1 percent, is anticipated to drop to 72.2%, which would still be much higher than the pass rate from this year, which was 67.3%.
Will the outcomes of students in the UAE confirm these predictions? Of course, that is still to be determined, but based on the A Level and BTEC results from a week ago, we at least have a lot of hope that UAE students will perform significantly better than their British counterparts.