Students getting 3 A grades or better at A level

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • 22.5% of students got 3 A grades or better (including students whose ethnicity was unknown)
  • 37.0% of students from the Chinese ethnic group got 3 A grades or better – the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups
  • 12.0% of Black students got 3 A grades or better – the lowest percentage out of the 6 aggregated ethnic groups
  • 20.4% of students from the White ethnic group 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 three 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 under the Other ethnic group

Ethnicity was not known for 16.8% 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.

Methodology

Read the detailed methodology for the data used on this page.

Exams were cancelled in summer 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students were awarded the higher of the following 2 grades:

  • a centre assessment grade based on what their school or college believed they would have achieved had exams gone ahead
  • their calculated grade using a model developed by the qualifications regulator Ofqual

Because of this, data for the 2019 to 2020 academic year should not be compared with data for previous years.

In the data file

See Download the data for figures for the 3 school years to July 2020.

3. By ethnicity

Percentage of students getting at least 3 A grades at A level, by ethnicity
Ethnicity % Students in cohort
All 22.5 214,818
Asian 18.5 26,026
Bangladeshi 14.7 4,300
Indian 25.8 8,408
Pakistani 12.4 8,459
Asian other 20.0 4,859
Black 12.0 10,443
Black African 12.7 7,671
Black Caribbean 9.1 1,604
Black other 11.2 1,168
Chinese 37.0 1,345
Mixed 20.2 9,415
Mixed White/Asian 26.2 2,723
Mixed White/Black African 15.6 1,082
Mixed White/Black Caribbean 14.4 1,733
Mixed other 19.9 3,877
White 20.4 127,810
White British 20.2 117,160
White Irish 24.4 809
Gypsy/Roma 14.3 28
Irish Traveller 0.0 6
White other 21.4 9,807
Other 18.3 3,602
Unknown 36.2 36,177

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity’ (CSV)

Summary of Students getting 3 A grades or better at A level By ethnicity Summary

The data shows that:

  • 22.5% of all students got 3 A grades or better at A level (including students whose ethnicity was unknown)
  • 37.0% of students from the Chinese ethnic group got 3 A grades or better – the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups
  • 26.2% of students from the Mixed White and Asian ethnic group got 3 A grades or better – the next highest percentage
  • no students from the Irish Traveller ethnic group got 3 A grades or better – this is based on only 6 pupils and is less reliable as a result
  • 9.1% of Black Caribbean students got at least 3 A grades – the lowest percentage out of all ethnic groups (except for the Irish Traveller group)

4. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Administrative data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Department for Education

Publication frequency

Yearly

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

Students aged 16 to 18 achieving at least 3 A grades at A level - 2017/18 to 2019/20 - Spreadsheet (csv) 11 KB

This file contains the following: measure, ethnicity, ethnicity_type, time, time_type, geography, geography_type, geography_code, age, value, value_type and denominator