Linear AS Level Results in England

This month, the Joint Council for Qualifications released the A and AS Level results, broken down by grade, gender and subject. Since this is the first set of results for the reformed Linear AS Levels, here at Learning Plus UK we thought we would provide some insight on how this has affected the achievements of the young people experiencing this reform. This provides us with a better understanding of the impact we can expect from the full Linear A level results which will be released next year.

Click on the infographic to explore in more detail

Reformed AS Levels

In September 2015, the first decoupled AS and A Levels were taught, with AS Level results no longer counting towards the final A Level grade. Linear A Levels are now assessed by final exams at the end of a two-year course. Modular subjects are being phased out with the intention that all A Levels will be taught in a Linear fashion from September 2017. Students are still entitled to enter for the AS Level exam with the caveat that if they choose to continue their studies through to A Level, the AS Level result will not count towards it. However, if they choose to terminate their studies after their AS Level exam, this still counts as a standalone qualification.

The subjects that were decoupled in 2015 are: Art and Design, Biology, Business Studies,Chemistry, Computing, Economics, English, History, Physics, Psychology and Sociology.


Entries for the reformed subjects show a clear decrease. For example, entries for Art and Design in the previous year were 58,440, however in the first year of the reform,this dropped to 37,975. Similarly, in English there were 116,911 in 2015 however this year this dropped to 88,732. On the other hand, some of the reformed subjects don’t seem as strongly affected. For example, entries in Computing in the previous year were 12,508 whereas this year they only fell to 11,577.

Grade Breakdown: Linear vs Modular

On average,students did better in the Linear exams this year compared to the Modular assessment of the same subjects last year with 37.2% achieving A-B compared to 35.2% last year. However, comparing the decoupled subjects to the unreformed subjects this year, students did worse in their Linear exams (37.2% A-B compared to 43.5% A-B). Although, since the reform, the gap between the subjects included in the first wave of the reform and those that remained modular has narrowed as the difference is 6.3% compared to 7.9% in 2015 and 7.3% in 2014.

Grade Breakdown: 3-Year Trend

This year males overtook females in A grades with an increase of 1.4% in the last year bringing them to 21.5% achieving A grades. In comparison, females had an increase of 0.8% with 20.9% achieving A grades. However, the proportion of fails for females still remains lower than for males, with 8.7% receiving U grades, compared to 11.4% . Both male and females have been steadily decreasing in the number of fails over the last three years. For both genders combined, we saw a smaller increase in A-C grades this year with a 0.6%increase compared to a 1.1% increase last year.

At Learning Plus UK, we were interested to see that whilst the proportion of A grades in Biology increased, those achieving A-C in this subject decreased by 1.1% which is a notable change when compared to the 1.4%increase last year. Is this due to the subject becoming Linear for the first time in over 15 years? We’d love to hear what you think – let us know by joining the discussion on our forum, Twitter or Facebook.