Record A-level grades achieved with many scooping the new A* grade

It is another record-breaking year for A-level results with the numbers of A* grades being awarded said to be double that predicted by the examinations regulator.

Reports vary on the numbers being awarded the top grade, A*. The BBC  claims it is one in 12 (8%) whilst the Times suggest it is one in six.
The A* grade was introduced this year to differentiate top performing students with the hope of giving a helping hand to university selectors who were faced with choosing between one in eight candidates who achieved three A grades at A levels in 2009. Yet despite wanting greater distinction between candidates, most universities are treating the new grade with caution, says the Times. Only four leading universities – Cambridge, Imperial, Warwick and University College London are asking for the A* grade. To achieve an A* students must score an A overall, plus at least 90% in each paper in the second year of the course.
The Times reports that more than one in five of entries was marked A* at nine of the 33 comprehensive, grammar and independent schools that disclosed their results. At Wycombe Abbey, an independent girls’ boarding school in Buckinghamshire, half of all A levels taken were ranked A*. Whilst the BBC say that the highest percentage of A*s was awarded in further maths at 29.9%. The lowest was in media, film and TV studies at 1.8%.
According to the BBC this year is also the first when students took four modules in an A-level instead of six, answering “stretch and challenge” questions designed to allow them to demonstrate their knowledge fully.
The overall pass rate for A-levels has risen for the 28th year in a row, with 97.6% of entries gaining an E or above, up from 97.5% in 2009.
More than 660,000 people have applied for university this year setting another record with seven students expected to fight for each place in clearing from today.

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