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A-level and vocational results are arriving for hundreds of thousands of students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

But unlike other years, these results have been estimated after exams were cancelled by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The exam watchdog has already announced a 2% rise in A* and A grades this year at A-level – close to record levels.

Controversy has surrounded how results have been decided – with head teachers angry at the use of mock exam grades.

There was “deep frustration” in schools about the confusion caused by late changes to the results system, warned Geoff Barton, leader of the ASCL head teachers’ union.

Almost 300,000 teenagers will be finding out A-level results – some by email and others going into school, perhaps for the first time since they left in the lockdown in March.

The moderation process will mean about 40% of results will be different, mostly lower, than predicted grades submitted by teachers.

There will be scrutiny of whether it is disadvantaged pupils who will have lost out from such changes – a problem that caused protests and a U-turn in Scotland.

Students taking vocational exams have been getting estimated results over recent weeks – with 250,000 getting BTec results this year.

For students hoping for university places, it is expected to be a “buyer’s market”, with the admissions service Ucas saying universities would be “super-flexible” even for those who have missed grades.

The A-level results are expected to show:

  • About 8% will get A*
  • 27% will get A* or A
  • 78% will get A* to C
  • Psychology now the second most popular subject, after maths
  • Girls will outperform boys, except in A*s
  • Northern Ireland will get more top grades than England and Wales
  • About 40% of grades will be different from teachers’ predictions
  • There will be 25,000 university courses available in clearing, including 4,500 in top Russell Group universities

There have been arguments about how estimated grades have been calculated in the absence of exams – with the two biggest factors being the ranking order of pupils and previous results at their school. Read more