More students hit top grade at A-level in Northern Ireland

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By Michael McHugh

The proportion of students receiving the top grade at A-level has increased slightly in Northern Ireland.

Those awarded an A* rose 0.6 percentage points from last year, and almost a tenth received the top grade. The rise was mainly driven by better performance from girls.

Thousands of students learned their results on Thursday morning.

Entries for A-level decreased by 2.3%, broadly in line with the drop in the size of the school age population.

Maths was the most popular A-level, with one in 10 studying the subject.

Participation in Stem subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) and languages (French, German, Irish and Spanish) declined slightly, by half a percentage point or less.

The proportion of girls taking Stem subjects rose slightly.

Justin Edwards, chief executive of the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) in Northern Ireland, said pupils had performed well.

He added: "The proportion of students taking Stem subjects and languages has decreased slightly, however Stem subjects continue to account for over one-third of A-level entries in Northern Ireland."

Around 28,000 students received A-level and AS-level results. Many learned them online but others attended their schools.

Maths was the most popular A-level subject for boys and biology for girls. Business studies was in the top five for both genders.

A total of 8.8% of entries received an A* overall.

Girls outperformed boys at A* by 0.9 percentage points and by 3.2 points at grade A.

Overall, the school population declined by 2.6% at A-level.

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