Northern Ireland

A-level results: Proportion of students gaining top grades rises

Happy students Alexandra Adams, Katie Fisher and Kathrine Hill pick up their results at Sullivan Upper Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Happy students Alexandra Adams, Katie Fisher and Kathrine Hill pick up their results at Sullivan Upper

The proportion of top A-level grades achieved by Northern Irish students has risen.

A* or A grades were achieved in 29.5% of A-level entries, a rise of 0.2% on 2015.

More than 28,000 received their A-level and AS-level results on Thursday.

The overall A*-E pass rate remained the same as 2015, at 98.2%. Girls have continued to outperform boys in gaining top grades.

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Media captionA-level results: Students reaction to receiving their results

Girls achieved A* or A grades in 31.3% of entries compared to 27.2% of entries from boys.

In 2015, 31% of entries from girls received A* or A grades compared to 27.2% of entries from boys.

The number of girls taking so-called STEM subjects - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - at A-level has also increased again.

There was a significant rise of 1.4% in the number of students taking A-levels in mathematics.

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Image caption Education Minister Peter Weir speaks to A-level students at Sullivan Upper

It is the most popular subject, accounting for 10.6% of A-level entries.

Biology, history, English and religious studies complete the list of the top five most popular subjects.

However, there have been steep falls in the number of A-levels taken in subjects like music, drama, art and design and French.

Students were able to access their exam results from 07:00 BST on Thursday, but many were expected to go to their schools to discover their grades.

Image copyright Press Eye - Belfast - Northern I
Image caption Ballyclare High School pupils Josh Graham and Chris McNeilly celebrate their results

Some schools post results to their pupils.

There have also been steady rises in the numbers of students staying at school to study A-levels in recent years.

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Image caption Ballyclare High School student Dean Jones looks relieved as he learns his grades

Many of those getting their results have already applied to university and will have their place confirmed if they get the grades they need.

Figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) show there has been a slight rise in Northern Irish students applying to go to university this year.

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Image caption Eve Bannon and Eve Wilson picking up their results at Belfast's Victoria College

Both Queen's University Belfast (QUB) and Ulster University (UU) will operate telephone enquiry lines for applicants in the wake of results.

Would-be students can call UU's enquiry line on 028 7028 7028 on Thursday, and the university is holding advice days at all four campuses on Friday.

QUB's enquiry line is on 028 9097 3838 and it will operate from 09:30 to 18:00 BST on Thursday and Friday.

The university is holding an advice session on Monday in the Whitla Hall between 14:00 and 17:00 BST.

Universities across the UK will run similar services.

Image copyright Press Eye - Belfast - Northern I
Image caption Victoria College pupils Elizabeth Brush and Jessica Sutton relaxing by a tree with their results

Many students getting their grades will also pursue other options including apprenticeships, entry into further education, employment or a gap year.

The Department of the Economy's careers service will run an extended online advice facility from 09:00 - 20:00 BST on Thursday and Friday.

Careers advisers are also available by phone on 0300 200 7820.

Hundreds of thousands of teenagers in England and Wales are also getting their A-level results on Thursday.

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