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A-level success as 35% get top marks

More than 30,000 A-level grades were issued to students across Northern Ireland this morning as it emerged that the pass rate has increased for the 26th year in a row.

Exam performance once again remains well ahead of England and Wales with 35.4% of entries gaining a top grade A as set against the equivalent national figure of 25.9%. The overall A-E pass rate in Northern Ireland is 98.2% compared to 97.2% nationally. Girls here continue to out-perform their male classmates.

CCEA’s Director of Qualifications, Anne Marie Duffy, said: “The amount of work involved in preparing for A-level examinations cannot be underestimated.

“Students in Northern Ireland are to be congratulated for their exceptional performance this year and credit must be given to the teachers and parents who have supported them.

“For many years now Northern Ireland students have outperformed their counterparts in England and Wales and this year is no exception. The results show that they prefer, and perform well in mathematics, sciences and languages. Now is the time to celebrate their results and look forward to the future.”

The Independent reported today that at least one in 10 teenagers across the UK has been awarded three straight A-grades and around 12,000 teenagers who received three As have been turned down for places at Oxford and Cambridge universities.

These figures highlight the growing dilemma facing university admissions staff as they attempt to select the brightest candidates for popular courses.

Some admissions officers are now calling on more schools to adopt the International Baccalaureate which, they argue, makes it easier to differentiate between the brightest pupils.

Pip Jaffa, chief executive of Parents’ Advice Centre, today advised parents to give their children support if they have not achieved the grades they hoped for.

She said: "The most important thing is not to turn the situation into a catastrophe. Your son or daughter will need emotional comfort and support — but also practical help and advice. You will need to sit down with them and look at the situation before deciding on the next steps.”

A dedicated support helpline has been set up by CCEA to give guidance to the students receiving results today, and also for young people getting their GCSE results next week.

Anyone with any queries regarding CCEA’s examination results can call 028 9026 1260, email, or log onto the CCEA website

The Parents’ Advice Centre can be contacted on freephone 0808 8010 722, email or log on too

The Careers Service can also be contacted on 028 9044 1787, or the Aimhigher website at

Meanwhile, the Belfast Telegraph will publish its annual UCAS supplement on Tuesday, which includes information on higher education course vacancies in universities and colleges across the UK.

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