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300,000 to receive A-level results
3:14am Thursday 15th August 2013 in © Press Association 2014
Teenagers across the country are waking up to the A-level results which will allow them to make the big decisions that will shape their future.
Around 300,000 students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be nervously heading to school this morning to pick up their grades.
For many, success in the exams will mean a prized place at university, an apprenticeship or other training scheme, while those who achieved less than expected are likely to be considering their options.
Last summer, the proportion of A-levels scoring at least an A grade fell for the first time in more than 20 years. Official figures for 2012 showed that 26.6% of the exams were given an A or A*, down from 27% in 2011 - a record drop of 0.4%.
Around one in 12 (7.9%) exams were given an A* grade, down from 8.2% in 2011, while 76.6% of entries got at least a C grade, up from 76.2% the year before.
One education expert has predicted that there could be a slight rise in results this year. Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said it was difficult to say what the pass rates would be this year, but that it was possible the A* - C results could go up by tenths of a per cent.
''The more practically-minded in the past may have been encouraged to take A-levels, and haven't done well," he said. "Now they're transferring to practical qualifications and that could affect the overall pass rate."
It has been suggested by others that an increased focus on traditional subjects, such as maths and science, could fuel a slight drop, as youngsters who may not have considered taking these subjects in the past, and may not be as strong in them, are now opting for the courses to help their chances of securing a university place.
Tens of thousands of would-be undergraduates without a university place are likely enter the clearing process - which matches them with courses that have vacancies.
Last year, a record 55,700 people accepted places through clearing, up 8.9% on the year before. And 1,300 applications were accepted through the ''adjustment'' system - more than double the previous year.