Exam pass rates plunge as schools tell students
to sit multiple exams

Number of A* grade passes in English IGCSE exam falls from 21.6 per cent in 2012 to 7.4 per cent

Education Editor

Exam pass rates have plummeted as a result of schools entering teenagers for multiple papers in the same subject in the hope of getting them a top grade pass with at least one of them, it emerged today.

Results show the number of A* grade passes in the English IGCSE exam  - built on traditional O-level lines - has fallen dramatically from 21.6 per cent in 2012 to 7.4 per cent.

The drop coincides with at least 20,000 pupils being entered for the alternative to GCSE at the last minute to give themselves a double chance of securing a top grade pass which will reflect well in exam tables.

The practice was criticised yesterday by Michael O’Sullivan, chief executive of Cambridge International Examinations - which offers the GCSE, who said: “We believe that entering for more than one examination in the same subject is misguided.

“It is not a sustainable way of improving performance or helping students learn - and, indeed, our grades in English are down.  We believe it is better that students enter one examination for which they prepare over the full length of the course.”

Figures show the number of entries for the English IGCSE rose from 18,000 in 2012 to 63,000 this year - coinciding with concerns over the marking of the English GCSE last year when the grade boundaries were raised between students sitting it in January and June.  Headteachers’ leaders say many schools lost confidence in the GCSE as a result.

“We are somewhat concerned about the practice of dual entry,” CIE said.  “The increase in entries in English has been accompanied by 20,000 late entries.  From what schools tell us, this can reflect late decisions to enter students for IGCSE in addition to other exams in English and so preparation may start as late as March before exams in May and June.”

The results show that the percentage of A* to C grade passes fell from 83 per cent last year to 61.1 per cent this year. The difference was most marked at A* and A grade level where the combined percentage fell from 46 per cent to 17.8 per cent.

Last month exams regulator Ofqual revealed that thousands of teenagers were being put in for multiple exams - most notably in maths where 15 per cent of candidates (90,000 people) were put in for exams with more than one board last year. Glenys Stacey, Ofqual’s chief executive, said there was a “fine balance” between whether the practice was in the best interests of the pupils or “demotivating them”.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux ...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Recruitment Genius: Nursery Manager

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Nursery Manager is required t...

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windo...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk