2019 a landmark year for reformed A levels in Wales

Thursday 15 Aug 2019

With thousands of students across Wales receiving their A level results, Qualifications Wales has hailed 2019 a landmark year as it completes a programme of major reform. 

This year saw the final reformed A levels examined for the first time, bringing the total number of A levels introduced and examined since 2015 to 29. 

And although the number of students taking the exam continues to fall, results for the top grades in Wales have increased slightly. 

“The continuing fall in entries for both AS and A levels is not unexpected, mainly driven by a reduction in the number of 17 and 18-year-olds in the general population,” said Chief Executive Philip Blaker. 

“The results show a slight increase of 0.4% in A* grades and 0.7% in A*-A grades, with a 0.2% increase achieving A*-E grades. 

“We want to thank our colleagues across education as their efforts to reform, improve and deliver these qualifications finally come to fruition.” 

The headlines from this year’s results are: 

  • A level results in Wales are up at A* and A and stable at A-E 
  • AS results have fallen slightly at A and remain stable at A-E 

At A level, in comparison with 2018 results: 

  • the percentage achieving an A* is 9.1%, up from 8.7% 
  • the percentage achieving grades A* or A is 27.0%, up from 26.3% 
  • the percentage achieving A* to E is 97.6%, up from 97.4% 

At AS level, in comparison with 2018 results: 

  • the percentage achieving grade A is 20.3 %, down from 20.4 % 
  • the proportion achieving grades A to E is 90.0 %, the same as last year 

At both AS and A level the number of qualifications awarded has decreased again this year. 

  • the number of AS qualifications awarded has fallen by 3,269 to 39,646 compared to 2018. 
  • At A level, the number of qualifications awarded in 2019 is 962 lower at 31,483 compared to 2018. 

Head of Research Tom Anderson said: “There are likely to be a range of factors explaining the downward trend in entries, the main one being the decline in the population of 17 and 18-year-olds which is down 3.8% and 2.1% respectively. Also, learners are now taking different types of qualifications in post-16 education.”  

“Statistics also show that fewer 17-year-olds are taking four or more AS levels, with more learners choosing to take three. The most popular route for 18-year-olds is to take three A levels along with the Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate. The proportion of 18-year-olds taking at least one AS level has also reduced, which helps to explain why AS entries have fallen more quickly than A level entries.” 

Welsh Baccalaureate Skills Challenge Certificate 

There has been a decrease in entries for the Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate this year, down by 1.4 percentage points to 11,881. Of these, 21.7% achieved A*-A grades, an increase of 0.2 percentage points when compared with 2018.