These interactive graphs show A level outcomes across all subjects for all students for the years 2008 to 2023 and for 18 year olds for the years 2017 to 2023.
Clicking on an individual grade or gender in the legend will make the line in the chart disappear or appear. For more explanation of these graphs, click on the Questions and Answers tab.Download the data
1. What do the charts show?
The four charts show A level outcomes and the number of students taking A levels in England in the summer exam series from 2008 to 2023. Applied and double award A levels are not included. Details of the data shown in each chart are as follows:
- Chart 1: the percentage of students achieving each grade in A level in the subject selected (black lines)
- Chart 2: data used in chart 1 for female students (orange lines)
- Chart 3: data used in chart 1 for male students (green lines)
- Chart 4: the number of students taking A levels in the subject selected, overall and split by gender. These figures are rounded to the nearest 5.
2. How were grades awarded in summer 2023?
The aim of awarding in summer 2023 was to return to pre-pandemic grading. As in any year, grade boundaries were set based on a combination of quantitative and qualitative evidence. The return to pre-pandemic grading means that national results will be lower than summer 2022 and it will be most meaningful to compare this year’s results with 2019, the last year that summer exams were taken before the pandemic. Further information is available on the Ofqual website, in the Ofqual student guide 2023, and in our blog 10 things to know about GCSE, AS and A level grades.
In 2020 and 2021, when GCSE, AS and A level grades were determined by teachers, national outcomes were higher than prior to the pandemic. Outcomes were also higher than pre-pandemic in 2022 when grading was at a midway point between summer 2019 and summer 2021 (see also Q3. How were grades awarded in summer 2022, summer 2021 and summer 2020?).
3. How were grades awarded in summer 2022, summer 2021 and summer 2020?
Awarding in summer 2022 was at a midway point between summer 2019 and summer 2021. As in any year, grade boundaries were set based on a combination of quantitative and qualitative evidence. Further information is available on the Ofqual website, in the student guide to exams and formal assessments in 2021 to 2022, and in our blog post from 2022.
Ahead of summer 2021 the government determined that many exams and assessments could not be held fairly as a result of the disruption students have faced due to the pandemic. Teachers were asked instead to submit grades to the exam boards, based on their assessment of what students have shown they know and can do, enabling progression to the next stage of education, training, or employment. The student guide to awarding in summer 2021 gives further information.
The summer 2020 exam series was cancelled due to the measures put in place in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Students were awarded either their centre assessment grade or the calculated grade, whichever was the higher. Further information about the alternative arrangements for awarding in summer 2020 is available on the Ofqual website.
4. Which subjects are included?
All A level subjects taken in England are included in the ‘All subjects’ grouping in the subject drop-down. The majority of A level subjects with high uptake are available to select individually in the subject drop-down.
5. How do the subject groupings work?
All of the subjects are grouped using the subject groupings established by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ). Most groupings contain a single subject but some groupings contain multiple subjects. For example, ‘classical subjects’ includes Biblical Hebrew, ancient history, classical civilisation, classical Greek and Latin. Over the years these subject groupings have changed as follows:
- From 2008 to 2016, English language, English literature and English language and literature were all classified under the single grouping, ‘English’. These subjects each have their own group from 2017 onwards
- Design and technology subject grouping was created as a category in 2010 and so there is no data for design and technology prior to 2010
- Performing/expressive arts contained performing arts, performance studies and dance until 2017, from 2018 this category only includes dance
- Prior to 2010, physical education subject grouping was termed ‘sport/PE studies’ and ICT subject grouping was termed ‘information and computer technology’
6. Which students are included?
In this publication we only present data for male and female students. We do not report outcomes for those who did not report their gender or who did not identify as male or female. This is because the number of individuals is too small and there would be a risk that individuals could be identified. Ofqual’s confidentiality and rounding policy provides further information on our data protection guidelines.
Data for the years 2008 to 2023 include all students in England taking A levels. Data for 18-year-old students in England (the age students are typically when taking A levels) is available by selecting ‘Aged 18’ from the age group options. In these charts, the breakdown by age is only available for 2017 onwards as this was the first year the breakdown was published in this data.
7. What is the difference between the display of cumulative and non-cumulative percentages?
Non-cumulative percentages for each grade show the actual percentage of students achieving exactly that grade (eg exactly grade B) whereas cumulative percentages show the percentage of students achieving that grade and all the grades above it (eg grade B and above - B, A and A*).
For cumulative percentages, it is possible to view the data with the y-axis reversed as well (going from 100 to 0 instead of 0 to 100) by selecting reversed from the y-axis layout options.
8. Why does data for some years appear to be missing?
There are no data points for the A* grade in 2008 and 2009 because the A* grade for A level was first awarded in 2010. This explains the drop in the percentage of students achieving grade A in 2010.
9. What does the pop-up box show?
When you hover over a point on the chart, a pop-up box will appear. For the first three charts, the pop-up box provides information on the year, the grade and the percentage of students achieving that grade (or that grade and above if ‘cumulative percentages’ are selected) in the selected subject. For the fourth chart, the pop-up box provides information on the year, the gender of students and the number of students taking an A level in the selected subject.
10. Why are some line labels missing?
Some line labels appear to be missing where the data points on the chart overlap. You can see which grade or gender the line relates to by hovering over the line and the pop-up box will then appear which includes this information. The legend also identifies each line on the chart and clicking on an individual grade or gender in the legend will make the associated line in the chart disappear or appear.
11. Where does this data come from?
Ofqual receives this data from the JCQ, near to results day. This data is supplied by awarding organisations to the JCQ who usually publish it on results day. The data does not reflect any changes to grades from post-results reviews. This means that it is possible that the figures presented here may not be the same as those presented in the Department for Education’s statistical first release on A level results.
For any feedback on these graphs or tables, please contact [email protected].
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