GCSE results and the mix of A level subjects studied are the key factors determining whether university applicants meet their predicted grades, UCAS analysis reveals.
The A level predictions of half a million young university applicants were compared to the A level grades they actually achieved, in a study published by the admissions service last month.
It shows that the most important factors in doing well against a particular set of predictions are strong GCSE results and the mix of A level subjects studied. The interplay of GCSE results and the level of the predicted grades is the single most important factor. A typical applicant with predicted grades of ABB is almost 50% more likely to miss by two grades or more if they have GCSE results averaging A/B rather than A*/A.
A typical applicant is around two thirds more likely to miss their predictions by two grades or more if they are studying biology, chemistry and maths than an otherwise similar applicant studying English, history and art.
UCAS’ report used statistical models to consider multiple factors together and reveal which are most strongly associated with the difference between predicted and achieved grades.
The report also found that over half of English 18 year olds applying to university missed their A level predictions by two or more grades last year – an increase of 34% on 2010.
Predicted grades are estimated around six months before exams are taken and since they represent what the student might achieve it is usual that not everyone reaches that level, and universities and colleges are experienced at taking this into account.
To find out how predictions differ by types of applicants and a statement from UCAS’ Chief Executive, Mark Curnock Cook, click here.
To view the full UCAS Undergraduate Analysis Report, click here.