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Great Britain

A-level results: Students need just 55 per cent in maths exam for A grade

Students scoring just over half marks in A-level maths will be rewarded with an A grade this summer, leaked documents show.

Grade boundaries for Edexcel‘s maths A-level show students who gained 165 out of a possible maximum of 300 marks (55 per cent) will be awarded an A.

Separate documents show that those who took the OCR exam board’s A-level maths qualification will walk away with an A if they achieved 54 per cent across all papers – a total of 161 out of 300.

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Last year, 184 marks (61 per cent) were needed for an A grade in Edexcel’s maths A-level, while for OCR’s qualification in the subject, the required mark was 197 (66 per cent).

The grade boundaries have been leaked the day before sixth formers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland are due to receive their A-level results. 

Edexcel’s parent company Pearson said that grade boundary information is shared with schools a day in advance to help teachers prepare and that the information was shared via a password-protected secure website.

The leaked Edexcel document also shows that this summer, 43 marks (14 per cent) would result in an E grade – considered a pass, while just over a third of marks (34 per cent) would mean a C grade.

For OCR, 40 marks (13 per cent) is the required threshold for an E grade this year, while 100 (33 per cent) is needed to obtain a C.

These figures relate to overall grade boundaries for new specification maths A-levels.

Maths is one of the last subjects to be reformed as part of a major overhaul of exams in England.

This summer is the first time that grades for new specification A-level maths are being awarded to the vast majority of students.

Last year, just a small number of students took the reformed qualification – those who sat the exam after completing the course in just one year, rather than the usual two.

A small number of students may still be studying the old “legacy” maths A-level course.

The leaked documents also give grade boundaries for other A-level qualifications offered by Edexcel and OCR – two of the biggest exam boards in England, and there are some differences between the two.

For example, 69 per cent (208 out of 300) in an Edexcel English Literature A-level achieves an A grade, while students taking the subject with OCR require 177 marks out of 200 (89 per cent).

And in chemistry, the A grade threshold for Edexcel students was 202 out of 300 (67 per cent), compared to 196 out of 270 for those taking OCR’s course (73 per cent).

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, urged students “not to lose sleep over grade boundaries”.

“We are extremely disappointed if grade boundaries have been leaked ahead of results day,” he said.

“The problem is that anxious students will pore over this information trying to work out what this means for their results.

”This is a pointless exercise because grade boundaries are set to allow for differences in the difficulty of papers so that students are not disadvantaged from one year to the next.

“We would urge students against losing sleep over grade boundaries and to wait for their results tomorrow.” 

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There were reports earlier this year that some students were complaining that one of the new Edexcel A-level maths papers was too hard.

In a video statement last week, Pearson addressed these concerns, saying it was aware that some had found Paper 2 “more difficult than they were expecting”.

The board said it wanted to reassure students that independent experts had analysed the paper and confirmed it was a “fair and valid exam testing across the ability range and the course curriculum”.

This summer, questions from one paper of Edexcel’s new A-level maths qualification were leaked ahead of students sitting the exam.

A police investigation is ongoing.

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