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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 17 September, 2002, 14:12 GMT 15:12 UK
How exam results vary between boards
exam room
Schools can choose which boards they use

Analysis of this year's A-level results shows noticeable differences between different exam boards.

The number of A grades awarded by the OCR exam board, for instance, was 21.1% while the AQA board gave the top grade to 17.8%.

But the real stars were students taking A-levels with the Welsh board, WJEC. More than a quarter of their entries were awarded A grades.

Overall, only 1.8% of WJEC A-level papers were "unclassified" failures, against 5% of OCR's and 6% of AQA's.

In the information and communication technology A-level, 3.67% of OCR's candidates got grade As - compared with 13.2% of Edexcel's.

Investigation

The details of the provisional statistics in 10 subjects published by the OCR exam board are being pored over by the exams watchdog, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA).

Its inquiry follows allegations that results were manipulated to hold down the grades, in the first year of the new-style A-levels.

In history - one of the subjects under investigation - AQA's overall pass rate was 94.7%, compared with 97.1% for Edexcel and 98.39% for OCR.

Those getting the top grade were 17.9% at AQA, 20.5% at Edexcel and 19.9% at OCR.

Many of the complaints about OCR's marking have centred on coursework.

Stars

In history, the failure rate for OCR coursework was 14.5% - significantly more than for the exam as a whole.

Yet 22.6% were awarded the highest grade for their coursework, which is more than for the whole exam.

In OCR's German papers, the proportion getting grade As ranged from about 24% to 30% on the various units.

In the German culture and society coursework, only 18% got As - and the failure rate was more than 30%.

At WJEC, 99.2% of the history A-level candidates passed the exam - and 27.6% saw their efforts graded A.

Although WJEC is known as the Welsh board, about a third of its papers are actual taken by students in England.

Leafy suburbs

In French, 31.4% of Edexcel's candidates got A grades - and 26.3% of OCR's.

In the geography A course, 78.8% of the 5,044 OCR candidates got the top grades (A to C) - almost 10 percentage points more than Edexcel's and more than 12 points more than AQA's.

Differences between boards of this kind are usually attributed to the sorts of schools which use them.

It is said, for example, that OCR exams tend to be taken by a higher proportion of independent and selective schools, accounting for their higher grades.

WJEC thinks it is used mainly by schools in more affluent areas.

A spokeswoman for the QCA said: "There are several factors affecting the profile of grades for different awarding bodies."

"For historical reasons awarding bodies attract different types of candidates. QCA is confident that the A-level standard has been maintained across awarding bodies."


GCSES

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A-LEVELS

Row over standards

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TOMLINSON INQUIRY
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