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National shock as 75% fail A-Levels


Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 11 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. Not everything that is old is bad. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have mellowed and matured.

But given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views might very well have changed in the 11 years since I wrote this post. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find pretty embarrassing today.
  • This post might use language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate or offensive.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken; embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

Exam hallIt’s the story we never hear in the media. 75% of 18-year-olds have just failed to get three passes (grade E or above) at A-Level. Popular opinion, mainly thanks to the media, has it (in a survery I can’t find again to link to) that over 80% of 18-year-olds reach this standard. Bollocks. The vast, vast majority of the young people in our country don’t even attempt A-Levels, let alone pass them.

Let’s talk, me and you, about one of the most respected, classical subjects at A-Level: History. Of the 375,000 18-year-olds in the country, the top 13% sat an A-Level in the subject. Frankly, these days, that’s an acheivement. Schools no longer enter people they don’t think will do well, because it damages their league table results and ultimately affects funding, which is why 87% of the population don’t get to take it. So it is fair to say that the 13% of youngsters sitting the History A-Level are the top historians of their age in the land. Well done.

10.9% of the 18-year-olds in this country passed that A-Level. We’ve weeded out 89.1% of the population – hundreds of thousands of people – without even looking at grades. But if we choose to look at that top ‘A’ grade, we find that just 2% of the population managed to achieve it. 98% didn’t.

In chemistry, only 9% of the population passed, with under 2% acheiving the top grade. For maths, the top 13% were entered, and the top 3% got A’s. And for the much lamented media studies, 7% were entered and just 1.5% got A’s.

People say that A-Levels are easy, worthless, and don’t discriminate anymore. Yet the vast majority don’t pass them, and our example shows that very few reach the top grades. How much more discriminating would you like them to be?

This 934th post was filed under: News and Comment.

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World TB Day (published 24th March 2018)

Kilroy and the Gypsies (published 12th February 2005)

An amazing couple of weeks (published 19th February 2006)

Diary for 17th July 2008 (published 17th July 2008)

HP Support Blog: Monday’s update (published 21st August 2006)

Comments and responses

Comment from lala

by lala

Comment posted at 13:39 on 28th November 2006.

which country are you talking about? oh ya,does anyone happens to know when nov 06 result will come out? i cant wait

Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)

by sjhoward

Comment posted at 14:00 on 28th November 2006.

This was about the UK, last year. The results for exams sat during November 2006 come out on 18th January 2007 – so there’s a bit more waiting to be done yet. Sorry!

Trackback from elsewhere on the site

Trackback received at 20:21 on 9th April 2007.

This post has been referenced by another on this site:
sjhoward.co.uk » Reasons for teenage knife crime

Trackback from elsewhere on the site

Trackback received at 09:02 on 20th August 2007.

This post has been referenced by another on this site:
sjhoward.co.uk » National shock as 75% fail A-Levels

Comment from failure!

by failure!

Comment posted at 13:42 on 5th September 2007.

woohoo im one of them! yay! i hoep everyone fails!! wohoo all hail to BTECs!!!

Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)

by sjhoward

Comment posted at 20:46 on 6th September 2007.

Well, as long as things work out in the end…

Comment from Some twat

by Some twat

Comment posted at 10:41 on 28th February 2008.

Hello there everyone, you all smell, teenagers can be cool pool muleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee yah yah ooh la la stickleback camel

Comment from Cati

by Cati

Comment posted at 22:57 on 8th April 2008.

Wooooo!!!!! Yep A-levels are hard, but what are they supposed to be!!
It’s all about finding the key to motivation, in working hard to deal with strain of A-levels, you just dont get taught that!
Plus there are so many crap teachers out there, especially one i dare to name ALISON!!!!!

Comment from Anonymous

by Anonymous

Comment posted at 17:51 on 2nd May 2008.

I the article it says”In chemistry, only 9% of the population passed, with under 2% acheiving the top grade.”

That means just under a quarter of people taking chemistry got an A! You are only distorting the figures to make it seem like 2% of chemistry students got an A! Who’s talking bollocks now?

Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)

by sjhoward

Comment posted at 18:34 on 2nd May 2008.

It means that under a quarter of people who passed chemistry got an A – not a quarter of those taking it. I’m sure a fair proportion took it and failed.

And of course I’m using the figures to make a point – I don’t think that makes the point bollocks. Indeed, if I didn’t use the figures to support the point, you’d claim I was spouting unsubstantiated nonsense.

The figures certainly aren’t distorted.

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