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Grades drop for British students taking first exams in three years

Students in the U.K. saw their grades drop this year, the first time in three years students have taken exams because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Kmtextor/Wikimedia
Students in the U.K. saw their grades drop this year, the first time in three years students have taken exams because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Kmtextor/Wikimedia

Aug. 18 (UPI) -- Students in the U.K. saw their grades drop this year, the first time in three years students have taken exams because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scores, released Thursday, showed the proportion of top Advanced Level, referred to as A-level grades in England, Wales and Northern Ireland fell compared to last year, when they were awarded based purely on classroom work.

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In 2021, the teacher-assessed grades led to an increase in the number of top marks issued.

The number of A-level grades is still higher than the last time students wrote examinations.

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Students in Scotland were given their results earlier in the month. Results show the pass rate at Higher level fell to 78.9%, which was down from 87.3% last year.

The A-level grades are lower in part because the system is being adjusted to counteract the sharp rise in top grades over the past two years during the pandemic, rather than reflecting the work of individual students.

"We want to get back quickly to the pre-pandemic standard, but in the interests of fairness, and balancing these objectives, we won't do so in one jump. Instead, 2022 will be a transition year to reflect that we are in a pandemic recovery period and students' education has been disrupted," government exam watchdog Ofqual said in a statement.

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"In 2022 we will aim, therefore, to reflect a midway point between 2021 and 2019. In 2023 we aim to return to results that are in line with those in pre-pandemic years."

The drop in marks set off a bit of a panic among students.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service said 65.3% of U.K. students that applied to university were offered their first choice. However, UCAS also said 20,360 students had not been accepted at all to a post-secondary institution.

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A total of 425,830 students have already been accepted into a university or college, the second-highest number on record.

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