Students getting 3 A grades or better at A level
1. Main facts and figures
- 28.9% of students got 3 A grades or better (including students whose ethnicity was not known) in the 2020 to 2021 school year
- 42.2% of students from the Chinese ethnic group got 3 A grades or better – the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups
- 10.8% of students from the Gypsy and Roma ethnic group got at least 3 A grades, the lowest percentage out of all ethnic groups – this is based on only 37 pupils and is less reliable as a result
- 11.9% of students from the black Caribbean ethnic group got at least 3 A grades – the lowest percentage out of all ethnic groups (except for the Gypsy and Roma group)
- 25.9% of white British students got 3 A grades or better
2. Things you need to know
What the data measures
The data measures the percentage of 16 to 18 year old students in England who entered at least one A level or applied A level and got 3 A grades or better.
A level qualifications include:
- A or AS levels
- applied single A or AS levels
- applied double A or AS levels
- combined A or AS level
Percentages are rounded to 1 decimal place.
The ethnic groups used in the data
The ethnic groups are based on the 18 ethnic groups used in the 2011 Census, with 3 exceptions:
- there are additional categories for traveller of Irish heritage, and Gypsy and Roma students
- the Chinese ethnic group has its own category and is not part of the Asian ethnic group
- there is no separate Arab ethnic group within the other ethnic group
Ethnicity was not known for 17.0% of students who entered at least one A level or applied A level. This is mainly because students who attended independent schools did not have their ethnicity recorded in the Department for Education’s school census.
Students whose ethnicity was not known are included in the figures for ‘All’ ethnicities, and results for this group are shown in the table.
Some of the figures mentioned on this page for detailed ethnic groups are based on small numbers of pupils – this makes it difficult to make reliable generalisations.
Read the detailed methodology for the data used on this page.
Exams were cancelled in summer 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2020, A level students were awarded the higher of a centre assessed grade (CAG) and a grade calculated using a model developed by the qualifications regulator, Ofqual.
In 2021, A level students were awarded grades based on an assessment by their teachers using a range of suitable evidence (‘teacher assessed grades’). Students were only assessed on the content they had been taught.
Because of this, data for A levels awarded in 2020 and 2021 should not be directly compared with data for previous years.
3. By ethnicity
|Ethnicity||%||Students in cohort|
|Mixed White/Black African||20.6||1,185|
|Mixed White/Black Caribbean||18.6||1,680|
Summary of Students getting 3 A grades or better at A level By ethnicity Summary
4. Data sources
Type of data
Type of statistic
Department for Education
Purpose of data source
The main purpose of this data is to measure the performance of schools and colleges and their students. This is to monitor and improve standards and inform parental and student choice.
5. Download the data
This file contains the following: measure, ethnicity, ethnicity_type, time, time_type, geography, geography_type, geography_code, age, value, value_type and denominator