Responding to Level 3 Results in 2022, Sam Tuckett, Senior Researcher for Post-16 Education and Skills at the Education Policy Institute, said:

“Marking an end to teacher-assessed grades and a return to exam-based assessment, 2022’s cohort of students should be proud of overcoming the substantial disruption they have faced, with many not having sat a formal exam ahead of this summer. Given Ofqual’s strategy to return to pre-pandemic styles of exams and grading, it’s no surprise that this year’s results sit between the lofty results students gained in 2021 and the last exam-based assessments of 2019. In what has been a fiercely competitive year for university applications, students that fall short of their grade requirements should take a broad view of the options available to them and not forget that degree apprentices and higher technical routes can lead to successful employment outcomes without the same student loan debt incurred from a full undergraduate degree.

“This year’s return to pre-pandemic styles of assessment accompanied a continuation of several trends. Female students continue to outperform males in most subjects. However, the gap between female and male attainment narrowed this year and is likely a result of the return to exam-based assessments. This year’s results also indicate the preservation of a strong geographical divide between students, with those in southern regions, by and large, outperforming their peers in the north and the midlands. Large grade increases of independent schools under teacher-assessments in 2021 were considerably reversed this year. Worryingly, it’s clear that there has also been a serious decline in attainment within FE settings. As data continues to emerge, focus should be given to investigating the impact educational disruption has had on the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their more affluent peers.”