A-level chaos as Ucas clearing web site crashes after high grades plunge by 10%

Top A-level outcomes have plunged by practically 10% as the general cross fee has hit its lowest degree for 15 years.

The Ucas web site crashed as lots of of 1000’s pupils throughout the nation obtained their grades on Thursday, inflicting chaos for these hoping to safe a college place.

It comes because the 19,000 college students who didn’t get accepted scrambled for clearing locations after the most recent figures confirmed the variety of pupils accepted onto UK diploma programs fell 2.6% on final yr.

Students at Ark Acton Academy in Acton, west London, obtain their A-level outcomes


Ministers and the exams regulator in England aimed to return grades this yr just like that of 2019, with the Education Secretary insisting the most recent UCAS figures illustrated how the UK Government was “right to put the grading system back to normal”.

National figures present the proportion of A-level entries awarded high grades is down by 9.2 share factors on final yr. Just over 1 / 4 (27.2%) of UK entries achieved an A or A* grade this yr, whereas 36.4% did so in 2022.

However, this was nonetheless greater than in 2019 – the final yr that summer time exams have been taken earlier than the pandemic – when 25.4% of entries have been awarded A or A* grades.

But the proportion of entries graded A* to E has fallen to 97.3% this yr, which is decrease than each 2022 (98.4%) in addition to the pre-pandemic yr of 2019 (97.6%) – and is the truth is the bottom general cross fee since 2008 when it stood at 97.2%.

Student Hasena Mahmood reacts after receiving her A-Level outcomes at City of London College

(Getty Images)

The figures, revealed by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), cowl A-level entries from college students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Geoff Barton, normal secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), described a “sharp fall” within the highest A-level outcomes. He mentioned: “The proportion of students achieving the top A-level grades has fallen sharply this year, not as a result of underperformance, but because the grading system has been adjusted in the wake of the pandemic so that the distribution of grades in England is similar to 2019.”

He added: “Whatever the rationale, however, it will feel like a bruising experience for many students, as well as schools and colleges which will have seen a sharp dip in top grades compared to the past three years.”

Archive Stimpson, Henry Copplestone and Tom Benton react after receiving their A-level outcomes at Langley School in Loddon, Norfolk


Amid exams regulator Ofqual’s warnings that this yr’s A-level ends in England can be decrease than final yr, it has additionally been advised that faculty leavers are going through extra competitors for college locations this yr attributable to a development in 18-year-olds within the inhabitants and worldwide demand.

Further fuelling the fears of disappointment has been the potential for this cohort of scholars to have greater expectations, having not sat GCSE exams and as a substitute been awarded teacher-assessed grades amid the pandemic, resulting in record-high GCSE ends in 2021.

Pupils have been receiving their A-Level outcomes and logging on to the UCAS web site to seek out out the standing of their college functions from 8am on Thursday, because the organisation launched its preliminary figures.

Pupils have been receiving their A-Level outcomes and logging on to the UCAS web site to seek out out the standing of their college functions from 8am on Thursday


There has been a drop of two.6% within the variety of UK college students who’ve secured their first selection of college or faculty when in comparison with final yr. Of those that have had a call made concerning their software thus far, 79% have gained a spot at their first selection, whereas 81% did so in 2022 when exams have been reintroduced. In 2019, the final time grading preparations have been the identical as this yr, the determine stood at 74% on outcomes day.

Overall, 414,940 candidates have gained a spot at college or faculty – down on 425,830 final yr (-2.6%) however a rise on 408,960 in 2019 (+1.5%). For UK 18-year-olds, 230,600 have been accepted, a decline from 238,090 in 2022 (-3.1%) however up on 199,370 in 2019 (+15.7%).

A UCAS spokesperson mentioned that, on the time outcomes have been launched, “a small number of students may have been affected by the website running slow but this was quickly resolved”, including: “All students were able to access their decisions on email and we can see that three-quarters of applicants have opened their emails.”

In response to the organisation’s figures, Gillian Keegan instructed BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “79% of those students receiving their results today got their first choice of university. And that is up from 74% in 2019 … So hopefully that will lead everybody to understand that we were right to put the grading system back to normal.”

She additionally mentioned this yr’s A-levels cohort had “a lot to deal with” and had proven “incredible resilience” as she congratulated them on their grades.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan mentioned this yr’s A-levels cohort had “a lot to deal with” and had proven “incredible resilience” as she congratulated them on their grades


Covid-19 led to a rise in high A-levels grades in 2020 and 2021, with outcomes primarily based on trainer assessments as a substitute of exams.

Overall, the proportion of UK entries awarded the highest A* grade this yr has fallen by 5.7 share factors to eight.9% in contrast with 14.6% in 2022, however it’s greater than when it stood at 7.7% in 2019.

Boys have pulled forward of women on the high grade this yr after feminine entries have been in entrance for the final three years, with A* grades at 9.1% for the previous in contrast with 8.8% for the latter.

Girls continued to outperform boys at A* and A however the gender hole has narrowed once more this yr.

A complete of three,820 college students in England alone scored three A* grades, in keeping with separate figures from exams regulator Ofqual.

Will Colman reacts as he receives his A-level outcomes at Langley School in Loddon, Norfolk


This is down from 8,570 final yr, however up from 2,785 in 2019.

In Wales, outcomes are anticipated to be “broadly midway” between these awarded in 2022 – the primary yr college students sat exams following the pandemic – and 2019.

In Northern Ireland, outcomes are anticipated to return to pre-pandemic ranges subsequent yr.

Many A-level college students in Wales and Northern Ireland got advance details about subjects to count on of their examination papers this summer time however college students in England weren’t given the identical assist.

Ofqual mentioned it constructed safety into the grading course of in England this yr to recognise the disruption that college students have confronted, which ought to have enabled a pupil to get the grade they might have obtained earlier than the pandemic even when the standard of their work is slightly bit weaker attributable to disruption.

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