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Entrance exams

Results from newly reformed GCSEs and A-levels could make it even harder for admissions officers to achieve a diverse intake.

The first evidence of the impact of recent qualification reforms to A-levels in English schools and colleges is about to be revealed. Conceived on Michael Gove’s watch, when he was education secretary, the new reformed A-levels were intended to be more rigorous and robust, and would serve to prepare students for the demands of further study in higher education. The changes will have implications both for universities and for university applicants.

First it is noticeable that the results of those students who took the first incarnation of the reformed AS-levels in 2016 have not universally met students’ expectations. Applications to university were much slower to materialise this year, particularly after the Oxbridge and medical schools deadline had passed in October. Anecdotal evidence from very experienced teachers suggests that in part this was due to students under-performing in their AS-levels. Rather than accepting the predicted grades that their performance would merit, students were negotiating with staff to delay their applications until the end of the first term of Year 13 to have more opportunity to demonstrate their actual ability.

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