Updated benchmarks for A level results 2017 England Alps briefing papers - view all

Download the PDF

Including Minimum Expected Grades for A level completers in 2018


For each band and percentile, the points per subject are tabulated in rank order of provider. A student with a GCSE score of 6.7-<7.0 at the middle ranking provider (50th percentile row) in that band was scoring 100.00 points per subject , equivalent to a B grade. (GCSE score computed from A*=8pts, A=7pts, B=6pts etc, totalled and divided by the number of GCSEs taken. Points score: A*=140pts, A=120pts, B=100pts, C=80pts, D=60pts, E=40pts).

  1. The Alps benchmarks are created from the results in the full Department for Education national dataset. The table (Table 1) above does not include qualifications such as general studies and the EPQ; Table 2 includes more qualifications, for interest, and gives the individual thermometers for each A level subject.
  2. During the past two years, there has been significant turbulence in post-16 curriculum structures, particularly at A and AS level. This short paper looks at changes there have been in A level outcomes in the dataset from Summer 2016 outcomes (which will form the basis for the indicators in the 2017 report suite) compared to outcomes from the previous benchmark, which was established from the 2013 dataset.
  3. Table 1: There has been very little movement in the outcomes at the 75th percentile when considering points per subject over this three-year period. For example, in the band 7.5-8.0 the outcome in 2013 was 125.17 points per entry, compared to 125.03 in the 2016 dataset, a fall of just 0.1%. If we ignore the lowest band, where numbers are small, the largest reduction is still by less than 1%.
  4. This stability of outcomes has been evident since the introduction of curriculum 2000 (apart for the introduction of the A*), and confirms the ambition of Ofqual that there are ‘comparable outcomes’ from one year to the next. It is for this reason we are always nervous at Alps when colleagues say to us that ‘there is bound to be a fall in outcomes since the exams are harder/longer/different etc.’. When the evidence is available, it often tells a different story.
  5. Table 2: The individual A level subject thermometers tell a similar story – that there has been little change. For example, the value-added score for mathematics at the 75th percentile in 2013 was 1.00, and in 2016, it was again 1.00; in English literature, the figures were 1.03 and then 1.04; in chemistry 0.93 and 0.92; in media studies 1.09 and 1.08; and in German 1.00 and 0.99.

90 subjects are listed. Subjects not included are missing because the number of sets of data was too small to be reliable. 0.20 difference represents one grade difference per entry in comparing sets


Data at the 75th percentile from the Alps benchmark Table 1 defines the minimum expected grades students should be aiming for relative to their incoming average GCSE scores which are set out in Table 3 below.

Table 3: Given that there has been so little movement in outcomes, the Alps Minimum Expected Grades (MEGs) in the 2017 A level report suite, are the same as in previous years.

Remember that these will be the subject scores, the subject thermometers and the MEGs used in the 2017 Alps reports.

We will also be publishing shortly Minimum Expected Grades for 2017 starters. The calculation of these students’ average GCSE score will include the mixture of grades 9 to 1 and A* to G.

The benchmarks for the BTEC 2017 reports are not being updated as they were updated last year for the 2016 reports.

We remain happy to help any school, academy, college or LA to implement Alps systems using our highly qualified and experienced trainers, all of whom have been or are in senior positions in top performing schools and colleges.

We are at the end of the telephone Monday to Friday 9am-5pm. Please contact us to discuss further.