Number of NI students with top A-level grades falls


  • By Robbie Meredith
  • BBC News NI education correspondent

Image source, .


Some students will access their results online while others will head into their schools.

There has been another fall in the number of A-level entries in Northern Ireland awarded top A* and A grades in 2023.

But the proportion of top grades is still higher than pre-pandemic.

About 37.5% of A-level entries have been awarded A* or A grades in 2023 – compared to 44% in 2022 and a record 51% in 2021.

In another development, biology has replaced maths as the most popular A-level subject in Northern Ireland.

Overall, results are expected to be closer to pre-pandemic standards in 2024.

As a result, students taking A-levels this year did not sit GCSE exams in 2021.

About 26,000 pupils received their A-level and AS-level grades on Thursday, as well as those getting results for vocational qualifications, such as BTecs.

Almost nine in every 10 AS and A-level entries in Northern Ireland are made through the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) exams board.

However some pupils take some A-levels through English and Welsh exams boards.

In Northern Ireland in 2023, 37.5% of AlLevel entries were awarded A* or A, while 11.6% of entries were awarded the top A* grade.

At AS-level, a third of entries (33.5%) got the top A grade.

For the first time in almost a decade, maths was not the most popular A-level subject.

Biology was the subject with the most overall entries, followed by maths, health and social care, business studies and history.

CCEA had said A-level and AS grades would be lower than 2022, but higher than before the pandemic, to take account of disruption pupils faced earlier in their school career.

That is what has happened.


Biology was the subject with the most overall entries, followed by maths, health and social care, business studies and history.

Pupils will receive GCSE results on Thursday 24 August.

CCEA will operate a results helpline from Thursday on 028 9026 1260.

There will also be a dedicated 2023 results day area on CCEA’s website.

The Department for the Economy’s careers service is also operating an online advice service or by telephoning 0300 200 7820.

In a statement the chief executive of CCEA, Gerry Campbell, offered congratulations to the students receiving results.

“These young people are to be praised and admired for the resilience and hard work they have demonstrated throughout their studies,” he said.

“I would also like to thank and pay tribute to Northern Ireland’s school leaders, teachers and lecturers for the support, guidance and dedication that they provided for their students over the past year.

“In addition, I want to recognise the valuable and important work that examiners and moderators have carried out this year to enable students to get their results.”

“On behalf of everyone at CCEA, I wish all students the very best for the next steps in their journey.”

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