A-level results 2017: Boys beat girls to highest grades for first time in nearly 20 years

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Boys have overtaken girls to earn the highest grades at A-levels for the first time in nearly two decades. 

26.6 per cent of boys achieved A* or A grades compared to just 26.1 per cent of girls, the first time boys have beat girls in 17 years.

In the 13 subjects which in 2017 saw reformed exams, with little coursework and no modules, top grades fell overall – but boys saw a lesser decline than girls.

Girls achieving A* or A grades in reformed subjects fell by 1.1 points, whereas boys dropped by just 0.2 points.

The reformed subjects, including English, History, Business and Physics, were devised by former education secretary Michael Gove in an effort to raise standards.

Highest pass rates were in Modern Languages, Further Maths and Art & Design, whilst the lowest success rates were in Computing, English Language and Media Studies.

Subject figures showed an increase in a range of subjects, including computing, with a 33 per cent rise in the number of A-level students.

816 female students took computing this year, a 34 per cent rise from 2016.

This year, 19.6 per cent of boys achieved A* and A grades in maths, up from 19.2 per cent last year – and 4.1 points higher than girls.

The proportion of female students taking performing arts was significantly higher than male, whilst boys made up the majority of classroom space in the scientific subjects.

Schools minister Nick Gibb said: “We want everyone, regardless of background, to be able to fulfil their potential and for many, A levels are the pathway to a university degree.”

“The increase in entries to facilitating subjects, those that give students the greatest choice of options at university, mean even more young people will have access to all the opportunities higher education provides.”

“There has been a strong uptake in core subjects, such as maths, which continues to be the most popular A level with maths and further maths having nearly 25 per cent more entries than in 2010.”

Mark Bedlow, director of regulation at OCR, said examining boards had noticed subject choices between the sexes remained “relatively static”, despite a narrowing gap in those achieving higher grades.

University applications have fallen compared to 2016, with a significant dip in the number of 18 year olds.

Some universities, including those in the Russell Group will still have places offer.

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