Students poised for A-levels results as number of top grades 'set to stall'

A-level results
Students will learn of their A-levels results today Photo: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Teenagers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are waking up to their A-level results today, with many hoping that their grades will be good enough to secure a coveted university place.

Experts have predicted that the pass rate will stall this year, amid fresh attempts by the exams regulator to tackle grade inflation.

It has been suggested that around 8% of exams will achieve an A* and just over one in four exams will score at least an A - the same as in 2011.

In a bid to tackle rising pass rates, Ofqual has told exam boards they will be asked to justify results that differ wildly from previous years.

It means that the proportion of students awarded top grades is unlikely to increase greatly from 2011 levels.

Concerns have also been raised this year that changes to university admissions will mean that able teenagers who are predicted to score two As and a B, but just fall short, will struggle to gain a place.

A-level results
Bright students could be missing out on university, experts have warned Credit: David Davies/PA Wire

Under a new system, there is now no limit on the numbers of students with two As and a B at A-level that universities can recruit, allowing them potentially to offer last-minute places to youngsters who do better than expected and meet this threshold.

But it means universities are likely to have less flexibility to admit students who just miss this standard, as there is still a strict cap on those who score less than AAB.

A-level results
Students will have to pay tuition fees of up to £9,000 to go to university Credit: Chris Ison/PA Wire

This year's students are already facing up to being the first to pay tuition fees of up to £9,000.

In 2011, 52.6% of A-level exams achieved at least a B, and 76.2% got at least a C grade.

Daybreak's Tiffany Royce speaks to students in Corby, Northamptonshire.

When you are talking about those sorts of high grades, A and two Bs, people scoring those sorts of grades - for those to be disheartened would be a tragedy and we must do everything we can to enable them to get their place.

My advice to students would be don't give up, to look at the options that are open, and there are still plenty of opportunities out there.

– Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders

This year, it could go either way, but I am guessing that Ofqual will hold the percentage of A-A close to 27%, but because there are good reasons for it happening, allow the percentage of A to increase say to 8.3%.

– Professor Alan Smithers, Buckingham University

We hope all students are fairly rewarded for their hard work and their A-level grades reflect their achievements over the past two years.

It would be grossly unfair if this year's students have been penalised in an attempt to make the exams appear tougher.

– Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers