Young people graduating from high school must expect lower grades than last year so universities and employers can properly distinguish candidates, the education minister said.
In England, this year’s national A Level results on Thursday will be similar to those before the pandemic.
This comes after Covid-19 led to a surge in top A Level grades in 2020 and 2021, with results based on teacher assessments rather than exams.
Gillian Keegan wrote in the Sunday Times: “During the pandemic the results were higher because of the way grades were assessed – now the grades will be lower than last year and more like 2019.”
“Students and parents may wonder why.
“It’s critical that qualifications retain value so that universities and employers understand the difference between grades when they are hired and students are given the opportunities they deserve.”
Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Center for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham, has suggested that 59,154 fewer A* grades and 35,505 fewer A* grades will be awarded to sixth form students this year compared to last year.
He added that if grades fall back to pre-pandemic levels this summer, nearly 50,000 students could miss the A* and A grades they were expecting last year.
But Schools Secretary Nick Gibb said “additional protections” would be introduced this year, with grade boundaries being changed if lead examiners find nationwide evidence of a drop in standards compared to 2019.
Due to the increase in the 18-year-old population and international demand, school-leavers are expected to face increased competition for university places.
Clare Marchant, chief executive of Ucas, urged school leavers to explore options and prepare a plan B ahead of A Level results day.