Record breaking grades have been achieved across England, Wales and Northern Ireland with A-level results announced yesterday. Pass rates have topped 97% for the first time with the number of students achieving A's also rising to 25.9%. The usual A-level sceptics, including former Rector of Imperial College, Sir Richard Sykes, blame grade inflation for the increase in students achieving the top grades. However, Schools Minister, Jim Knight welcomes the news attributing the high pass rate to ?a decade of record investment and policies which have encouraged more young people to continue and achieve in education."
Perhaps the most positive trend comes with news that the science subjects of chemistry, physics and biology are increasing in popularity while english and maths still remain the most common A-level subjects. If there is a perceived ?dumbing down? in A-level marking then it is not as a result of so-called ?Mickey Mouse? subjects saturating course scheduling.
With more than one in four students achieving the highest grade, institutions such as Imperial College are struggling to differentiate between the top students meaning that courses have become over subscribed. Imperial will not be taking part in the clearing process this year as all spaces at the College have been filled. Even students achieving four grade A's could be rejected if they dropped below the grade barrier in any one of their A-level modules. Many students in this situation are still remaining optimistic with a reserve list for the Maths department exceeding fifty students.
From 2010 a new A* grade will be introduced for those students achieving more than 90% in their exams. Many university admissions departments would still prefer to get raw data with exam marks while others, including Imperial, will be setting their own entrance exams to test creative thinking and ability to learn.
Also published yesterday, Push, the ?ruthlessly independent guide to Uk Universities?, has ranked Imperial College at the top of the ?sex poll? for female students. The site claims to rate universities according to what really matters for students; namely sex and booze. Push says that the sex ratio is important for ?altering your pulling odds, a relevant factor in determining atmosphere? listing Imperial as the best place to head if you are a girl. Imperial males may wish that they had referred to Push?s rankings before making their university choice as they may have opted for the Royal Veterinary College, also in London, which has the best sex ratio for the guys.