Number of students receiving top grade in NI A levels increases

Higher percentage of A* grades down to better performance by girls

Students Emma Meek, Lauren Verner and Courtney Campbell collecting their A level results at Abbey Community College in Newtownabbey. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Students Emma Meek, Lauren Verner and Courtney Campbell collecting their A level results at Abbey Community College in Newtownabbey. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

The number of students gaining the top A* grade at A level in Northern Ireland this year has increased slightly, according to figures released by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ)

More than 28,000 A level students in Northern Ireland are receiving their A level results this morning.

This year 8.8 per cent of entries received the top A* grade, an increase of 0.6 per cent compared to 2018.

Just over 30 per cent received either an A* or an A grade. 98.3 per cent were graded A*-E.

According to the JCQ, the higher percentage of A* grades awarded was driven by an increase in the performance of female candidates. The percentage of girls achieving an A* grade rose to 9.2 per cent, an increase of 1.2 percentage points compared to last year.

The performance of male candidates dropped slightly, with 8.3 per cent achieving an A* grade this year, 0.1 per cent fewer than in 2018.

Girls also continued to outperform boys at A*-A grade, and across the rest of the grades.

To achieve an A* grade, candidates must achieve an A overall for their two years of A level study and score 90 per cent or more in the modules studied in the second year.

A level students tend to study three subjects, with some choosing to study a fourth. Maths remained the most popular subject, studied by 10.2 per cent of candidates.

The numbers studying STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) declined slightly, though they still account for a third of A level entries in Northern Ireland. There was also a slight decline in the number of candidates choosing to study languages.

The chief executive of Northern Ireland’s exam body, the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA), said the results were “a testament to the hard work and dedication shown by students over the past two years.

“Northern Ireland students continue to perform well, with increases across all grades.

“We are delighted for the students and all those that helped them achieve their results.”