A Level entries and attainment: revised A Level results 2015/16

The Department for Education (DfE) has published a statistical first release (SFR) with revised Level 3 results for the 2015/16 academic year. This latest LPUK Big Numbers feature looks at the number of A Level entries by subject and offers analysis of attainment.



The number of A Level entries per subject provides some context before examining attainment. There were a total of 744,161 A Level entries for the 2015/16 academic year. The most frequently studied subjects by a considerable margin were maths and English, both with over 80,000 entries. These were followed by biology and psychology, with over 50,000 entries. When comparing the ranking of the top 10 most frequently studied subjects from 2015/16 with the previous academic year, we notice that these were ranked in exactly the same order and with similar numbers of entries. Similarly to the past few academic years, over half of entries were in facilitating subjects.



As we can see from the overall breakdown of A Level grades bar chart above, the biggest cluster was between B and C, with around 52% of students achieving one of these two grades. The pie charts depicting attainment by grade categories show that just over a quarter of students achieved grades A*- A, and over three-quarters achieved an A*- C grade.


Click on the infographic to explore in more detail: filter by gender and A* - A or A* - C grades.


When looking at the average percentage of students achieving an A*-A grade overall, this was almost identical to the previous academic year (see our Big Numbers A Level results 2014-15 feature). There was also very little difference between males and females achieving A*-A: this was 26.4% and 26.5% respectively. However when considering students achieving A*-C grades, females outperformed males with 80.2% and 75.7% gaining these grades respectively.

In terms of the grades attained by subject, we notice that the highest percentage of pupils achieving an A* or A was in further maths (57.5%), followed by other modern languages (including Russian, Polish and Italian), maths, German and French (38.9%). Interestingly the top five subjects for students achieving A*-A and A*-C grades were all facilitating subjects.

These top five ranked subjects for students achieving A*- A grades were the same for male and female students, and indeed the ranking for all subjects featured was very similar between females and males. The biggest gender gap in achievement was found in PE, for which 24.1% of females achieved an A*-A, in comparison with 11.9% of males, giving a gap of 12.2%. When looking at A*-C grades in PE, this gap widens to 18.6%, achieved by 78.8% for females and 60.2% of males.


At Learning Plus UK, we will continue to monitor the gender gap with each year’s A Level results, and will watch with interest to see whether the newly reformed A Levels will have any impact on either entries or attainment.

To help you monitor performance at your centre, our Post-16 LPUK Datadashboard includes Level 3 performance analysis by gender and other characteristics, making it easier for you to identify any areas of concern. Click here to find out more information about the Post-16 LPUK Datadashboard.

We are always interested to hear what you think, so please explore our infographic and let us know your thoughts on Twitter @Learningplusuk!



Original SFR available from DfE: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/a-level-and-other-16-to-18-results-2015-to-2016-revised. SFR revised March 2017