Northern Ireland’s top GCSE grades drop as formal exams return

School exam stock

The percentage of top GCSE marks in Northern Ireland has dropped in the first year since the return of formal exams after the pandemic.

Although the results are down from the marks awarded by teachers during the Covid-19 crisis, they are up on pre-pandemic levels.

GCSEs completed in 2022 were different to those in 2019, with the overall assessment load reduced to reflect the disruption to student learning caused by the coronavirus emergency.

A-level results
Education Minister Michelle McIlveen (Brian Lawless/PA)

Provisional figures released on Thursday show that in Northern Ireland, 37% of pupils achieved an A/7 and above.

In 2021, nearly 40% of students achieved top marks in the teacher assessment model. When the exams were last held in 2019, the percentage of top marks was 30.5%.

Ninety percent of students received grade C/4 and above. This was broadly similar to 2020 and 2021, but up significantly from the 82.2% recorded in 2019.

The results of just under 30,000 students who took GCSE exams in Northern Ireland in 2022 have been published by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ).

Education Minister Michelle McIlveen praised the hard work and resilience of the students.

“Congratulations to all of our young people in Northern Ireland who received their GCSE results today,” she said.

“The results are overwhelmingly positive, with 90% of students achieving A* to C grades. Our students’ success is well deserved and a testament to their hard work and resilience after three years of disrupted learning. They should be justly proud of their accomplishments.

“It is also important to recognize the incredible work of teachers across Northern Ireland in helping students prepare for exams in a challenging learning environment.

“I would like to thank them for all they have done, as well as the families of the students who have supported these young people throughout this important year.

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