GETTY STOCKStudents can now find out the grade boundaries for their exams
In order to minimise students’ stress and anxiety, the exam boards did not publish the A-level grade boundaries until results day.
Grade boundaries are usually published online before results day, but this year they were sent straight to schools and colleges.
Michael Turner, director general of the Joint Council for Qualifications, said: “We have taken this decision to stop any unnecessary student concern or anxiety the day before they receive their results.”
Now that A-level results have come out, students can look up the grade boundaries to see how far off a higher grade they were.
What are A-level grade boundaries 2017?
Grade boundaries are used to show the minimum number of marks that are required for each grade.
These boundaries change year-on-year depending on how well the student population performs on a whole.
If an exam paper was particularly difficult, the grade boundaries will be lowered so that more students can get the top grades.
A-level results day 2017: Frequently asked questionsWed, August 16, 2017
Common A-level results day questions answered by The Student Room.
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A-level results day 2017: Frequently asked questions
GETTY STOCKGrade boundaries are lowered if the student populous performs poorly as a whole
But if an exam is seen as easier, the grade boundaries could be raised. Grade boundaries can even vary within a single exam board.
For example, a student who studied OCR Biological Processes this year will need to get a score of 67 out of 100 to get an A*.
But someone studying OCR Modelling Physics has to get 81 out of 100 to earn the same grade.
Students graduating this summer were the first to face the new linear A-levels, which were introduced by former Education Secretary Michael Gove.
The new A-levels are designed to make it harder for students to get As and A*s.
Butt has been reported that grade boundaries have had to be lowered across the board to ensure enough students get a pass.
What are the A-level grade boundaries 2017?
You can visit the webpages below to find the 2017 grade boundaries for OCR, Edexcel, Pearson, CCEA and AQA.
OCR - www.ocr.org.uk/administration/stage-4-results/grade-boundaries/
Edexcel/Pearson - qualifications.pearson.com/en/support/support-topics/results-certification/grade-boundaries.html
AQA - www.aqa.org.uk/exams-administration/results-days/grade-boundaries-and-ums
CCEA - ccea.org.uk/qualifications/adminhelp/post_results_faq/grade_boundaries
The General Certificate of Education (GCE) Advanced Level, or A Level, is a main school leaving qualification in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. It is available as an alternative qualification in other countries.
A Levels require studying an offered A level subject over a two-year period and sitting for an examination at the end of each year (A1/S and A2, respectively), proctored by an official assessment body. Most students study three or four A level subjects simultaneously during the two post-16 years (ages 16–18) in a secondary school, in a sixth form college, in a further and higher education college, or in a tertiary college, as part of their further education.
A Levels are recognised by many universities as the standard for assessing the suitability of applicants for admission in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and many such universities partly base their admissions offers on a student's predicted A-level grades, with the majority of these offers conditional on achieving a minimum set of final grades.
A Levels were introduced in 1951 as a standardised school-leaving qualification, replacing the Higher School Certificate. The examinations could be taken on a subject-by-subject basis, according to the strengths and interests of the student. This encouraged specialization and in-depth study of three to four subjects. The A Level at first was graded as simply distinction, pass or fail (although students were given an indication of their marks, to the nearest 5%), candidates obtaining a distinction originally had the option to sit a Scholarship Level paper on the same material, to attempt to win one of 400 national scholarships. The Scholarship Level was renamed the S-Level in 1963.
Quite soon rising numbers of students taking the A-level examinations required more differentiation of achievement below the S-Level standard. Grades were therefore introduced. Between 1963 and 1986 the grades were norm-referenced:
The O grade was equivalent to a GCE Ordinary Level pass which indicated a performance equivalent to the lowest pass grade at Ordinary Level.
Over time, the validity of this system was questioned because, rather than reflecting a standard, norm referencing simply maintained a specific proportion of candidates at each grade, which in small cohorts was subject to statistical fluctuations in standards. In 1984, the government's Secondary Examinations Council decided to replace the norm referencing with criterion referencing: grades would in future be awarded on examiner judgement thus eliminating a possible inadequacy of the existing scheme.
The criterion referencing scheme came into effect for the summer 1987 exams as the system set examiners specific criteria for the awarding of B and E grades to candidates, and then divided out the other grades according to fixed percentages. Rather than awarding an Ordinary Level for the lowest pass, a new "N" (for Nearly passed) was introduced. Criticisms of A level grading continued, and when Curriculum 2000 was introduced, the decision was made to have specific criteria for each grade, and the 'N' grade was abolished.
In 1989, Advanced Supplementary (AS) awards were introduced; they were intended to broaden the subjects a pupil studied post 16, and were to complement rather than be part of a pupil's A-level studies. AS-Levels were generally taken over two years, and in a subject the pupil was not studying at A-Level. Each AS level contained half the content of an A-Level, and at the same level of difficulty.
Initially, a student might study three subjects at A-Level and one at AS-Level, or often even four subjects at A-Level. However, due to decreasing public spending on education over time, a growing number of schools and sixth form colleges would now arrange for their pupils to study for three A-Levels instead of four.
A levels evolved gradually from a two-year linear course with an exam at the end, to a modular course, between the late 1980s and 2000. By the year 2000 there was a strong educational reason[clarification needed] to standardise the exam and offer greater breadth to students through modules and there was also a pragmatic case based on the inefficiency of linear courses where up to 30% of students were failing to complete or pass.
Curriculum 2000 was introduced in September 2000, with the first new examinations taken in January and June of the following year. The Curriculum 2000 reforms also replaced the S-Level extension paper with the Advanced Extension Award.
The Conservative Party under Prime MinisterDavid Cameron initiated reforms for A Levels to change from the current modular to a linear structure. British Examination Boards (Edexcel, AQA and OCR) regulated and accredited by the government of the United Kingdom responded to the government's reform announcements by modifying specifications of several A Level subjects.
Prior to Government reforms of the A Level system, A-levels consisted of two equally weighted parts: AS (Advanced Subsidiary) Level, assessed in the first year of study, and A2 Level, assessed in the second year of study. Following the reforms, while it is still possible to take the AS Level as a stand-alone qualification, those exams do not count toward the full A Level, for which all exams are taken at the end of the course. An AS course usually comprises two modules, or three for science subjects and Mathematics; full A Level usually comprises four modules, or six for sciences and Mathematics. The modules within each part may have different weights. Modules are either assessed by exam papers marked by national organisations, or in limited cases by school-assessed, externally moderated coursework.
Main article: List of Advanced Level subjects
A wide variety of subjects are offered at A-level by the five exam boards. Although exam boards often alter their curricula, this table shows the majority of subjects which are consistently available for study.
The number of A-level exams taken by students can vary. A typical route is to study four subjects at AS level and then drop down to three at A2 level, although some students continue with their fourth subject. Three is usually the minimum number of A Levels required for university entrance, with some universities specifying the need for a fourth AS subject. There is no limit set on the number of A Levels one can study, and a number of students take five or more A Levels. It is permissible to take A Levels in languages one already speaks fluently, or courses with overlapping content, even if not always fully recognized by universities.
The pass grades for A Levels are, from highest to lowest, A*, A, B, C, D and E. The process to decide these grades involves the uniform mark scheme (UMS). Under this scheme, four-module A levels have a maximum mark of 400 UMS (or 200 UMS each for AS and A2), and six-module A levels have a maximum mark of 600 (or 300 UMS each for AS and A2). The maximum UMS within AS and A2 may be split unequally between each modules. For example, a Physics AS may have two exam modules worth 90 UMS and 150 UMS, and a coursework module worth 60 UMS. The 'raw marks' i.e. actual score received on a test may differ from UMS awarded. On each assignment, the correspondence of raw marks to UMS is decided by setting grade boundaries, a process which involves consultation by subject experts and consideration of statistics, aiming to keep standards for each grade the same year on year. Achieving less than 40% results in a U (unclassified). For passing grades, 40% corresponds to an E grade, 50% a D, 60% a C, 70% a B, and 80% an A. The A* grade was introduced in 2010 and is awarded to candidates who average 80% UMS across all modules, with a score over 90% UMS in all A2 modules. In Mathematics, which comprises six 100 UMS modules, only the C3 and C4 modules count towards this requirement. In Further Mathematics and Additional Further Mathematics, where more than three A2 modules can be taken, the three best-scoring A2 modules count. There is no A* grade at AS level.