A Level results summary 2021

Published 10th August 2021

Firstly, we would like to congratulate all students receiving their A level results today following what was a challenging year in education for most. We sincerely hope that the majority of students receive the grades that they hoped for and that progression to the next stage of their development, be that university, HE, apprenticeship or other, is smooth and is not hindered by the outcomes forced by the pandemic.

Overall, the percentage of students achieving top grades of B or above has risen significantly for the third year in succession. A* and A grades have increased from 38.1% last year to 44.3% in 2021. A total of 37% of students received three A grades or above this year, a significant increase on 2020 and almost double the number achieved in 2019, the last time that formal examinations were used to determine grades. This will likely increase pressure for entry to many of the most popular courses at the most successful universities; clearing will undoubtedly be a far trickier prospect this year.

Results are also higher overall at grade B or above, with 69.8% of students achieving grades at this level compared with 65.44 in 2020. Grades from C down remain far more stable percentagewise with only marginal changes.

Female candidates saw much more significant gains across top grades than their male counterparts, with Ofqual reporting that girls outperformed boys by approximately a fifth of a grade across the grades.

Sadly, design and technology saw the most significant drop in A Level entry this year (5.8%), with approximately two-thirds of all entries from male candidates.

The design and technology statistics for all entries is as follows:


Entries 2021       9,979                    Entries 2020       10,588     (overall entry down 5.8%)

Male entries 2021            6,953                    Male entries 2020            7,096

Female entries 2021       3,026                    Female entries 2020       3,492

A* 2021 - 17.6%               (2020 10.6%)

A   2021 - 42.2%               (2020 32.8%)

B   2021 - 69.1%               (2020 61.7%)

C   2021 - 88.1%               (2020 86.4%)

There were marginal differences in the number of candidates achieving D and E grades in 2021, but overall, the boundaries here saw little movement.

The percentage of both boys and girls achieving top grades has significantly improved, but it is noticeable that girls have achieved almost double the gains seen by boys across the top grades in 2021.

We will carry out a more detailed analysis once the data becomes available, but in the meantime, I would again like to congratulate all students and their teachers for an outstanding performance in the most difficult of circumstances.

If you have not achieved the grades you anticipated this year, I know that will be disappointing. I would, however, point out that it is a moment in time and is not life-determining. Work closely with your teachers and parents to identify your options for recovery, there is always a plan B, and you can move on from this.

Warmest congratulations

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