Students getting 3 A grades or better at A level

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • 13.0% of students got 3 A grades or better (including students whose ethnicity wasn’t known)
  • 25.7% of students from the Chinese ethnic group got 3 A grades or better – the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups
  • 5.5% of Black students got 3 A grades or better – the lowest percentage out of the 6 aggregated ethnic groups
  • 11.2% of students with Mixed ethnicity got 3 A grades or better – this was followed by White students (11.0%), students from the Asian ethnic group (11.0%), students from the Other ethnic group (10.2%)
Things you need to know

Previously published data on A level results used a different methodology and is not comparable. Since new AS and A Levels were implemented in England from September 2015, the number of students taking reformed AS qualifications in England has dropped. This makes it more difficult to compare results over time. For more information, see AS and A Level reform guidance.

Ethnicity was not known for 17% of students. This is mainly due to students attending independent schools not having their ethnicity recorded on the Department for Education’s school census.

Students with unknown ethnicity are included in the figures for ‘All’ ethnicities, and results for this group are shown in the table and download file.

What the data measures

The data measures the percentage of A level students in England aged 16 to 18 who got 3 A grades or better, by ethnicity.

The data covers students at the end of A level study in the 2018 to 2019 academic year.

The ethnic categories used in this data

This data uses categories from the Department for Education’s school census. These groupings are broadly based on the 2001 national Census, with 2 exceptions:

  • White Irish Traveller and White Gypsy and Roma children have been separated into 2 categories
  • pupils in the Chinese ethnic group are in a separate category from Asian pupils

These changes were made after consultations with local authorities and lobby groups.

2. By ethnicity

Percentage of students achieving at least 3 A grades at A level, by ethnicity
Ethnicity % Students in cohort
All 13.0 218,398
Asian 11.0 24,942
Bangladeshi 7.8 4,194
Indian 15.5 8,222
Pakistani 7.3 7,788
Asian other 11.8 4,738
Black 5.5 10,475
Black African 6.1 7,520
Black Caribbean 3.4 1,839
Black other 5.4 1,116
Chinese 25.7 1,480
Mixed 11.2 8,982
Mixed White/Asian 15.3 2,511
Mixed White/Black African 8.3 1,080
Mixed White/Black Caribbean 6.2 1,812
Mixed other 11.8 3,579
White 11.0 131,947
White British 11.0 121,533
White Irish 13.8 816
Gypsy/Roma 0.0 30
Irish Traveller 0.0 9
White other 11.5 9,559
Other 10.2 3,526
Unknown 23.4 37,046

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

Figures for the White Gypsy and Roma and Traveller of Irish Heritage ethnic groups are based on a small number of pupils and are less reliable as a result.

The data shows that:

  • 13.0% of students got 3 A grades or better at A level (including students whose ethnicity wasn’t known)
  • 25.7% of students from the Chinese ethnic group got 3 A grades or better – the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups
  • students from the Indian ethnic group (15.5%) were the next most likely to get at least 3 A grades
  • 5.5% of students from the Black ethnic group got 3 A grades or better – the lowest percentage out of the 6 aggregated ethnic groups
  • students from the White Gypsy and Roma, and Traveller of Irish Heritage ethnic groups were least likely to get at least 3 A grades, with no students from either group doing so

3. Methodology

The data used for this analysis comes from the National Pupil Database.

Students are included in the data if they completed their studies at the end of the 2018 to 2019 academic year, or are aged 18 years at the start of the academic year and have not been reported in the performance tables at their current allocated provider.

A level qualifications include:

  • A/AS levels
  • applied single A/AS levels
  • applied double A/AS levels
  • combined A/AS level

Characteristics such as ethnicity and free school meal eligibility are not routinely or consistently collected for students aged 16 to 18 years.

Characteristics data is sourced from school census data collected when they were usually 16 years old. This method means 83% of students have ethnicity information available.

Students who were unmatched might have:

  • attended an independent school before their A levels and not been included in the school census
  • moved to England after the school census data was collected

The distribution of characteristics of the unmatched students is likely to be different from those who have been matched, particularly because students from independent schools are more likely to have high attainment at the end of key stage 4.

Rounding

Percentages in the charts and tables are rounded to the nearest 1 decimal place.

Related publications

A level attainment by pupil characteristics.

Quality and methodology information

Further technical information

16 to 19 accountability headline measures: technical guide, July 2019

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 schools/colleges' and students' performance, 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 - Spreadsheet (csv) 4 KB

This file contains the following: measure, ethnicity, year, age group, geography, value, denominator