GCSE and A level statistics
In 2022, there were over 5.3 million entries into GCSE exams in England. We unpacked the statistics to find out how they got on.
You might think fondly of your time as a student, even if you didn’t have much in your student bank account, but we’re sure you haven’t forgotten about the stress before big exams. At the end of secondary school education, 16-year-olds in the UK take their GCSE exams. In 2022, over 5.3 million tests were made. We unpacked the statistics to get the lowdown on GCSE exams and results.
- The total GCSE entries in 2022 was 5,349,250.
- Overall GCSE results in 2021 were higher at grade 7 (28.5% in 2021) than 2020 (25.9%) and at grade 4 (76.9% in 2021) compared to 2020 (75.9%).
- The UK GCSE pass rate was 77% in 2021.
- The most popular subject studied at GCSE level in 2022 was combined sciences (854,450 students).
- A level entries in 2021 (756,230) increased by 3% from 2020 (731,855).
- Only 5% of A level students have taken 4 or more A levels in summer 2021.
- The total number and percentage of students receiving an A* in all their subjects in 2021 is higher than in 2020.
- The most popular subject studied at A level in 2022 was mathematics (89,605 students).
GCSE entries in 2022
The total entries for GCSEs in 2022 was 5,349,250, this is an increase of 0.9% compared to 2021 (5,301,075). This number has been steadily increasing for the past 5 years.
|Year 10 and below||123,350||127,245||124,310||95,580||107,400|
|Year 12 and above||393,870||401,485||401,300||358,350||313,210|
|All year groups||5,136,495||5,185,845||5,281,745||5,301,075||5,349,250|
GCSE English Baccalaureate subject entries in 2022
The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is a performance measure for students who achieve good GCSE or accredited Certificate passes in English, mathematics, history or geography, 2 sciences and a language.
Entries have increased for subjects such as science, geography, other modern languages, English literature and Spanish. The largest percentage increases were for other modern languages (44%), Spanish (6.10%) and geography (4.10%). There were decreases in entries for mathematics, English language, German and ancient languages.
|Subject grouping||2021||2022||% change|
|Other modern languages||25,225||36,310||44%|
GCSE non-EBacc subject entries
The most popular non-EBacc subjects was religious studies (RS), with 243,875 students taking RS in 2022, 1.7% more than in 2021. Religious studies was followed by art and design (194,040 students) and business studies (100,990 students) as the most popular non-EBacc subjects.
The least popular subject at GCSE level was engineering, with only 2,305 students taking this subject in 2022. Other sciences (2,320 students) and classical subjects (3,595 students) followed as the 3 least popular subjects for GCSE students in 2022.
|Subject grouping||2021||2022||% change|
|Art and design subjects||197,595||194,040||-1.80%|
|Design and technology||82,505||78,405||-5%|
|Food preparation and nutrition||49,965||51,940||4%|
|Social science subjects||39,395||42,385||7.60%|
The COVID-19 pandemic meant GCSE, AS and A level exams were not examined in the usual way. Instead, students got their grades based on assessments by their teachers – Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs). Therefore, the monitoring of exams was changed as well.
In 2021, 1.2 million students received grades for GCSE, AS and A levels. In total there were 5.7 million grades given out. Here is the breakdown:
- 4.9 million GCSE teacher assessed grades
- 57,360 AS teacher assessed grades
- 754,520 A level teacher assessed grades
Overall GCSE results were higher at grade 7 (equivalent to an A) at 28.5% in 2021 than 2020 (25.9%) and at grade 4 (equivalent to a C) at 76.9% in 2021 compared to 2020 (75.9%).
In Wales: Grade A or 7 and above was 28.7% in 2021 compared with 25.5% in 2020 and at grade C or 4 and above was 73.6% in 2021 compared with 73.8% in 2020.
In Northern Ireland: Grade A or 7 and above was 39.9% in 2021 compared with 36.3% in 2020 and at grade C or 4 and above was 89.6% in 2021 compared with 89.8%.
GCSE pass rate
GCSE students in the UK had a GCSE pass rate of 77.1%, last summer in 2021, this is the highest pass rate in the past 20 years.
Grades A/7s and above rose to 28.9% from 26.2% in 2020, while grades C/4s and above rose to 77.1% up from 76.3%.
|Year||GCSE pass rate C/4 grade and above (%)|
Which A level subject is the most popular?
The most popular subject studied at A level in 2022 was mathematics, studied by 89,605 students. This was closely followed by psychology with 76,265 students and biology with 66,220 students. The least popular subjects were classical subjects (4,875 students) and German (2,675 students).
|Subject grouping||2021||2022||% change in entries|
|Art and design subjects||39,370.00||42,100.00||6.90%|
|Design and technology||8,340.00||9,725.00||16.60%|
|English language and literature||7,155.00||6,795.00||-5%|
|Other modern languages||5,315.00||5,385.00||1.30%|
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