The 2022 A-level results are out, and the top grades for exams taken in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were down by 8.4 percentage points compared to last year's. According to figures published by the university admissions service Ucas, the number accepted to UK degree courses fell by 2%.

A-Levels (Advanced Level qualifications) are the esteemed UK subject-based qualification exam taken by students aged 16 and above. The A-Levels are usually meticulously studied for over two years as they are needed to qualify for entrance to higher education institutes in the UK and are accepted internationally.

This year's batch of A-level test takers is the first to sit exams since the outbreak of COVID-19. Even though a total of 425,830 people have had places confirmed so far, many students were caught in a much more competitive admissions cycle and failed to place as they faced grade uncertainty with the reintroduction of exams.

Ucas chief executive, Clare Marchant, released a statement saying, "While many will be celebrating today, there will be some who are disappointed. My advice is to take advantage of the wide range of choices on offer, which includes over 27,000 courses in clearing, along with a range of apprenticeship opportunities."

Clearing refers to the system employed by UCAS and UK universities at the end of the academic year where unplaced students are matched with unfilled courses.

Dr Jo Saxton, the chief regulator of the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation, said that this year's GCSE and A Levels "will be the most generously graded series" as this year's results marked a benchmark to help prepare schools and universities for the return to pre-pandemic grade levels next summer.

"The class of 2022 can be so proud of what they have achieved. Today's results are higher than those of 2019, and – as we have always said – lower than in 2021, when there was a different method of assessment.

I felt strongly that it would not have been right to go straight back to pre-pandemic grading in one go but accept that we do need to continue to take steps back to normality."

GCSE results
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