Summary statistics for GCSE, AS and A level



This interactive visualisation shows a number of summary statistics for GCSE, AS and A level qualifications in England.



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1. What do the graphs/tables show?

The main purpose of this interactive visualisation is to collate in one place a number of main trends from our official statistics releases. It allows users to explore those statistics over time.

At present, only statistics relating to GCSE, AS and A levels are included.

Users can first select a general topic area from the dropdown box and then view a number of statistics over time related to that topic. Where available, further breakdowns by exam board or centre type are offered.

2. What is the difference between the number of candidates, the number of certificates, and the number of entries?

Statistics on numbers of candidates show the number of unique learners taking exams, regardless of the number of qualifications each learner has taken. In other words, each individual is only counted once.

Statistics on numbers of certificates show the number of qualification results issued by an awarding organisation following the completion of a given qualification. Individual learners may be in receipt of multiple certificates, one for each qualification completed.

Most statistics on numbers of entries within this visualisation show the number of entries made for individual assessments/components, prior to assessments being taken. Each qualification is made up of a number of components, and so each candidate will have multiple entries per qualification taken.

Some statistics on entries, such as those relating to EBacc entries for GCSE, and those reported in our Provisional Entries statistical release, are reported at qualification level.

3. What is the source of this data?

All data comes from the exam boards that we regulate. Most figures have been previously published in one of our official statistics releases.


4. Why do some graphs only show some years? Why do some values in the tables appear as '-'?

Not all datasets were available over the full time period covered by this visualisation. In these cases, statistics start at the point the data was first collected. In several cases, data for 2020 is also missing due to the cancellation of exams in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

5. What does the vertical dashed line on the chart refer to?

This reflects a break in the time series. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, exams for GCSEs, AS and A levels were cancelled in summer 2020, meaning that assessments did not take place in the way they normally would. As such, any comparisons between 2020 and earlier years should be treated with caution.

Particular caution should be given for statistics on appeals, as there were additional grounds for appeals introduced in summer 2020 due to exceptional arrangements as a result of the pandemic. Therefore, direct comparisons of appeals in 2019/20 given here and previous years will not be valid. The standard post-results services, including reviews of marking, were not available. Instead there was a different appeals process, which has meant that numbers were higher in 2020 compared to previous years. For more information, please see our official statistics release on appeals.

6. What else should I bear in mind when interpreting these statistics?

The purpose of this interactive visualisation is to give an overview of key statistics. However, more contextual information may be required to understand each set of figures. This information can be found in our official statistics releases .

Where exam board breakdowns are offered, please be aware that differences between exam boards may often simply reflect a difference in entry size between exam boards.

7. Where can I find out more information?

Where figures have been sourced from our official statistics releases, a link has been given to a page listing all our publications. More information can be found within the relevant publication. Alternatively, please contact [email protected]

For any feedback on these graphs, please contact [email protected]

Return to the Ofqual Analytics home page.

If you need an accessible version of this information to meet specific accessibility requirements, please email [email protected] with details of your request.