The percentage of students receiving the highest A-level grades in Northern Ireland has fallen with the return of exams following the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, they were substantially higher than in 2019, the last time students sat exams without the disruption of the pandemic.
More than 25,000 students in Northern Ireland received their A and AS level results on Thursday morning. Students are also receiving results in Btec exams and other vocational qualifications.
A total of 44 per cent of students received the top A* and A grades, compared to 50.8 per cent in 2021 and 29.4 per cent in 2019.
More than 99 per cent of students received grades A* to E, an increase of 0.7 per cent compared to 2019.
This academic year was the first time examinations have been used to determine students grades since the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2020 and 2021 students received teacher-assessed grades.
A number of additional measures were put in place to take account of the impact of Covid-19 this year. These included the option for students to omit a unit of assessment in most subjects to focus their revision, as well as adaptations to assessments, reduced coursework, contingency plans for missed exams and generous grading in recognition of the disruption.
Maths remained the most popular A-level subject, accounting for just under one in 10 entries, and just over a third of entries were in Stem subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
The acting interim chief executive of the North’s exams body, CCEA congratulated students on their results and paid tribute to their “dedication and resilience” on the return to the first full summer examinations since the pandemic.
“It is a positive day for these students who, despite the exceptional challenges they faced, have continued to perform well,” Leah Scott said.
“These results reflect two years of hard work from our young people, schools, colleges, and the wider school community,” she said.
Northern Ireland’s minister for education Michelle McIlveen also sent her congratulations and said those receiving results had “worked incredibly hard in their studies and this has been reflected in the grades they have deservedly achieved.
“Despite three years of disrupted learning, our young people have shown immense determination, resilience and tenacity in their studies,” she said.
“I also wish to pay tribute to teachers across Northern Ireland who have, within the most challenging circumstances, continued to be at the heart of students’ education throughout this crucial year. Without their enthusiasm, dedication and commitment, today’s successes would not have been possible,” Ms McIlveen said.
“This year’s return to examinations marks a positive step towards more normal teaching and assessment arrangements,” she said.
Minister for the economy Gordon Lyons said many students would be delighted with their results but that others would be disappointed, and he urged them to make use of the help and advice available.
Departmental careers advisers “can offer impartial advice and guidance on a range of career choices, including further and higher education, training and employment including apprenticeships, and higher-level apprenticeships,” he said.
This can be accessed at https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/services/chat-careers-adviser, or you can speak to an adviser by calling 0300 200 7820.
Webchat and phone opening hours will be extended over the results period, and advisers will be available via webchat and telephone from 9.30am to 7pm on Thursday and Friday of results week.
Additional reporting — PA.