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You could be one of the 60,000 students without top A Level grades this year

top a level grades
According to reports, around 60,000 fewer top A Level grades will be awarded this summer. Source: Frederick Florin/AFP

With only two months on the clock before A Level results are released, students are gearing up to receive — and in some instances, decline — their university offers. The UK exam watchdog, however, has cautioned that this is set to be one of the most competitive years yet for students seeking university placements, with reports suggesting some 60,000 fewer top A Level grades will be awarded this summer. 

According to The Sunday Times, Ofqual announced plans to set exam grade boundaries to reflect a “midway point between 2021 and 2019” so that the proportion of students receiving an A* or A grade for A Level will reduce.

top a level grades

This is set to be one of the most competitive years yet for students seeking university placements. Source: Martin Bureau/AFP

Fewer top A Level grades for the class of 2022

Ofqual Chief Regulator Dr Jo Saxton was quoted saying by The Daily Mail that schools with higher results than in 2021 “will be few and far between”. UCAS, the UK universities admissions service, predicts that some 20% of students will not get their preferred choice.

“Whilst these will be the most generously graded exams ever; nevertheless the approach means that overall, 2022 results are likely to be higher than in 2019, when summer grades were last determined by exams, but lower than we saw in 2021,” said Saxton.

She added that this year, education staff faced greater COVID-related disruption than any point in the pandemic to date.

top a level grades

You could be one of the thousands of students with fewer top A Level grades. A former external consultant for Ofqual predicted that the number of A* grades will drop by about 40,000 compared with last summer, and that the number of A grades by about 20,000. Source: Frederick Florin/AFP

“I understand the distress that mistakes in papers and advanced information will have caused. But I also hope that the overall effect and additional support provided is beneficial,” Saxton added.

Dennis Sherwood, former external consultant for Ofqual predicted in The Sunday Times a total of 60,000 fewer top A Level grades. He said the number of A* grades will drop by about 40,000 compared with last summer, and that the number of A grades by about 20,000. 

He was quoted saying by the daily, “Their older siblings had opportunities, they were the lucky ones, but the class of 2022 is unlucky in that they were born into this year’s cohort rather than being in the class of 2021 or that of 2020.”

He added that the dip in top A Level grades, combined with other factors, would “cost students places in one of the most competitive university admissions rounds for years”.

Around 5,000 schools and colleges are involved in GCSE, AS and A level exams, with millions of tests marked each year, reported Metro UK.