Northern Ireland GCE Results

Figures released this morning on behalf of the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) show that Northern Ireland pupils continue to perform well in GCE examinations.

Mathematics, Chemistry and modern languages show strong performance

The proportion of entries achieving the overall A* - E pass grades has risen slightly to 98.2 % (98.1% in 2012), while A* – C grades are unchanged at 83.5%. There has been a small decrease in the percentage of entries achieving the top A* - A grades, dropping to 30.7% this year compared to 31.9% in 2012.

At individual subject level the results data shows that Northern Ireland students have performed particularly well in subjects such as Mathematics, Chemistry and modern languages. In Mathematics an impressive 46.2% of entries achieved the top A* - A grades.

The gender gap closes

While girls still outperform boys overall, at the highest level the gap has closed notably this year. In 2013 the proportion of boys achieving the top A* grade has remained unchanged at 7.1%, while the performance of girls has fallen back from 8.1% in 2012 to 7.2%.

At the overall A*- E pass rate the gap has also closed. Entries from boys are now achieving 97.8% at A* - E (97.6% in 2012), with the performance of girls unchanged at 98.5%.

Traditional subjects remain the most popular choices at A level

In summer 2013 there were 32,836 entries for GCE examinations. While this is down very slightly (0.2%) on last year’s record entries, it still shows that GCE A levels remain a very popular choice in Northern Ireland.

The most popular subjects continue to be the traditional choices, with the top five in terms of entries being Biology, Mathematics, Religious Studies, History and English.

STEM entries strong - mixed picture in GCE modern languages

Once again entries in Northern Ireland reflect growing numbers of students choosing STEM related subjects, with rises in entries in Mathematics, Further Mathematics, ICT, Chemistry and Physics. And while Biology entries have dropped this year, it still remains the most popular subject choice, accounting for 10.2% of the overall entry.

The picture in modern languages is mixed. While both Spanish (up 4.7%) and Irish (up 1.6%) have seen increases in entries this year, only Spanish has seen a consistent rise in entries over the last five years.

Entries in French and German continue to fall, with French down 8.5% on 2012 and German down 20.8%. French, however, remains the most popular modern language, accounting for 1.7% of the overall Northern Ireland GCE entry.

Anne Marie Duffy, Director of Qualifications at the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) commented:

"Congratulations to all students receiving results this morning. GCE A levels are highly respected and well understood qualifications that will stand you in good stead as you further your education or employment.

At a time when overall student numbers have been decreasing, it is pleasing to see that Northern Ireland students continue to enter for GCE courses in such high numbers. This summer 1,373 more entries achieved A*- E pass grades than did so five years ago.

The success in attracting more and more students to study STEM subjects is also welcome, as is the strong performance of students in Mathematics, Chemistry and modern languages."

Additional Information

The statistics below represent the provisional Northern Ireland GCE results from five JCQ awarding organisations:

  • AQA
  • CCEA
  • Edexcel
  • OCR
  • WJEC

Table 1: Northern Ireland GCE A Level entries and provisional results:

  2013 2012
Entries 32,836 32,908
%A* 7.2 7.7
%A*-A 30.7 31.9
%A*-C 83.5 83.5
%A* - E 98.2 98.1

In Northern Ireland 7.2% of candidates achieved grade A*, a decrease of 0.5 percentage points from last year. There was a 1.2 percentage point decrease at grades A* - A (30.7%) and a 0.1 increase at grades A – E at 98.2%.

Table 2: Five most popular subjects at GCE A level in N. Ireland

Subject % entries Entries
Biology 10.2 3,359
Mathematics 9.7 3,176
Religious Studies 7.6 2,503
History 7.2 2,363
English 7.0 2,287

Traditional subjects such as Biology, Mathematics, History and English remain popular in Northern Ireland. Mathematics, Biology and History remained in the top five for both males and females in 2013.

Table 3: Gender comparisons

  NI 2013 NI 2012
  Male Female Male Female
%A* 7.1 7.2 7.1 8.1
%A*-A 28.3 32.8 29.1 34.2
%A*-E 97.8 98.5 97.6 98.5

Females performance at A* fell by 0.9 percentage points. Females continue to outperform males at all grades at GCE A level but the difference is reducing.

Table 4: GCE AS Levels results and entries

Entries %A %A-C %A – E
2013 43,472 28.1 75.5 94.4
2012 44,486 29.5 76.1 94.6


JCQ Northern Ireland GCE A-Level Statistics
156 KB - uploaded 26-08-2014
JCQ UK GCE A-Level Statistics
156 KB - uploaded 26-08-2014
JCQ Northern Ireland GCE AS Statistics
145.5 KB - uploaded 26-08-2014
JCQ UK GCE AS Statistics
145.5 KB - uploaded 26-08-2014

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