Size and scale of the system

The Scale of the Examination System in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

The public examination system is a vast and highly complex operation deploying some of the nation’s best educational expertise in an intensive period to produce results across a range of qualifications.  In August 2012, we issued:

  •  2,308,527 GCE results.  This figure includes:
  • 861,819 results for GCE A-level
  • 1,350,345 results for GCE AS
  • 6,636 results for Applied GCE double award A-level
  • 32,447 results for the Applied GCE single award A-level
  • 7,113 results for Applied GCE double award AS
  • 50,167 results for the Applied GCE single award AS
  • 5,638,240 GCSE results. This figure includes:
  • 5,225,288 GCSE Full Courses
  • 371,352 GCSE Short Courses
  • 41,600 GCSE Double Award
  • 28,572 results were issued for the Extended Project qualification.
  • 24,452 results were issued for the Level 1 and Level 2 Project qualifications.
  • 9,568 Diploma awards at Foundation, Higher, Progression and Advanced Level were made.
  • 18,111 Principal Learning results.  This figure includes:
  • 2,292 Principal Learning at Level 3  
  • 14,320 Principal Learning at Level 2
  • 1,499 Principal Learning at Level 1
  • 74,691 results were issued for Entry Level Certificates.
  • In 2012 over 15.4 million GCSE and A level examination scripts* were marked.  Over 51,000 examiners were employed by exam boards with the majority involved in the marking and moderation of GCSEs, A levels, AS and other academic qualifications.
  • Hundreds of staff are employed to process the results in a tight time-frame of seven weeks from the date of the last examination.
  • In 2012, candidates entered for specifications spanning 36 GCSE subject areas and 47 GCE subject areas.  In most subjects there is a choice of syllabus or specification and a choice of content.

The qualifications with the largest numbers of entries were GCSE Mathematics, with 675,789 entries, and GCSE English, with 669,534 entries.


*This relates to externally set and marked exam scripts and does not include internal assessment.

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