Make A-level harder for all, says exams chief

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The Independent Online

A-levels will be made harder for every pupil under a new blueprint devised by the Government's exams watchdog.

Ken Boston, the chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, will make it clear in a speech today that all candidates face tougher questions under his recommended option for improving A-levels. He will also signal the introduction of a new A* grade at A-level for the brightest candidates.

Ministers had planned to introduce either an optional harder paper for high-flyers or an optional set of questions to be answered by them at the end of the main exam. Universities have complained that they cannot select the best candidates because so many pupils get A-grade passes. More than 20 per cent of scripts are awarded an A-grade pass.

Research for the QCA shows that both teachers and pupils now have greater faith in A-levels and GCSEs, although there are concerns that coursework allows pupils to cheat.