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A-Level Predicted Grades: Why Relying Solely on A-Level Results is a Mistake

3 Min Read
August 01, 2023

As high school students, you may be familiar with the anticipation and stress surrounding A-Level exams. These exams are often considered a critical factor in determining your future educational opportunities and career prospects. However, there is a growing concern about relying solely on A-Level results, especially when it comes to predicted grades. Let’s discuss more about this below!

The Issue With Predicted Grades

Most students who apply to universities do find a place to study, and there is a system called "adjustment" provided by UCAS that allows students who have achieved higher grades to reconsider their choice of university.

However, a report from University College London's Institute of Education in 2016 found that only 16% of predicted grades are accurate. Shockingly, less than one in five students actually achieve the grades that their university offers were based on. Among the rest, 75% of students are predicted higher grades than they actually achieve, while 9% are predicted lower grades than they end up attaining. These figures show that this is a significant issue. The process of predicted grades is highly inaccurate for most applicants.

The admissions process aims to match academic potential and courses to maximize the chances of students thriving while studying. Over-predicting grades may place students in courses where they may struggle academically. So instead of benefiting from this perceived advantage, they may face academic stress that limits their potential.

Furthermore, even if these students manage to succeed, they may occupy spots that could have been better suited for other students. Although universities are no longer bound by strict student number controls and can theoretically accept as many students as they wish, there are practical limitations such as available resources, student accommodation, and staffing. This means that slots are still limited. Thus, every additional student on a course who technically didn't achieve the required grades is taking up a spot that could have been given to another student who may have been more suitable for the course.

The Unfair Disadvantage

For the 9% of students whose predicted grades were lower than their actual grades, it puts a damper on their aspirations. These students have the potential to attend higher-ranked universities based on their true abilities, but they might not receive offers from those universities due to their inaccurate predicted grades. Even if they do apply, they may face difficulties in getting accepted. Clearing, which is a process to fill remaining university slots, could be an option for them. However, emotionally, these students may be hesitant to make a last-minute change to their chosen university, and the places at their preferred universities may already be filled by students who were given higher predicted grades.

The report from UCL also highlighted that the students who are most likely to receive lower predicted grades are those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Throughout the study, 3,000 high-achieving students from disadvantaged backgrounds – who achieved AAB grades or better – were predicted grades that underestimated their abilities. As a result, they ended up applying to universities for which they were overqualified.

While A-Level results are important for getting into university, it's crucial to aim for a university and a major that matches your goals and interests. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare for the university application process. Take opportunities to develop your skills, participate in activities outside the classroom, and gain practical experience in your chosen field.