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A level grade inflation a thing of the past

Posted by Tom Walker in

With A-level results imminent, it will be interesting to see whether the recent trend against grade inflation persists. Both 2012 and 2013 saw a fall in the proportion of A-levels awarded top grades, following a string of years in which grade inflation occurred. 2013 saw a little over one quarter of exam entries (26.3%) earning top grades, down from 26.6% in 2012. Prior to 2012, the number of A-levels earning A or A* grades increased year on year - a trend that had persisted for around 30 years.

The percentage of A-level entries awarded A grades during the early years of the A-Level system -which was adopted in 1951- was around 8%. This level was largely maintained throughout the 1960s and 1970s, however the mid-1980s saw the onset of grade inflation that persisted unabated through to 2011. The 1st decade of the new millennium witnessed some of the most aggressive grade inflation, with the percentage of As and A*s granted increasing 10%.

The inflation of grades came under intense criticism for its use as a political tool throughout the noughties, with universities complaining that the policy of expanding the use of top grades prevented them from being able to identify the top echelon of candidates. Top students were consequently forced to take on more subjects in 6th form to distinguish themselves, as 3 A grades was no longer considered exceptional.

It will certainly be interesting to see if the 2014 results, released on 14th August 2014, will continue the trend of the last 2 years or whether bad habits from previous decades will creep back into the system. Either way, we wish all students the very best of luck!

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons