ISC Year 13 Exam Results 2013

Posted on: 24 Aug 2013
Posted by: Tracy Cook

Nearly two thousand pupils awarded three or more A*s.

  • The percentage of A-level entries awarded A* from pupils at independent schools remains unchanged at 18.0%, despite the national fall.
  • More than half of independent school entries are awarded either A* or A grade at A-level.
  • Nearly two thousand pupils awarded three or more A*s.
  • An entry from a girl at an independent school is more likely to win an A, but boys are more likely to achieve three As.

View Exam Results 2013 data


This year’s A-level exam results from 32,378 candidates at 464 Independent Schools Council (ISC) schools show that 18.0% of entries from ISC pupils were awarded the grade A, unchanged from last year (18.0% ). This compares to a national average of 7.6% (7.9% in 2012).*

The proportion of entries from ISC pupils achieving at least an A grade was 51.3% (51.4% in 2012); nationally 26.3% of entries were awarded at least an A (26.6% in 2012).

Preliminary findings show that 5.8% of ISC candidates (1,891 pupils) were awarded three or more A grades.* 6.4% of boys and 5.3% of girls were awarded three or more A*s.


An entry from a girl at an independent school is more likely to win an A, but boys are more likely to achieve three As.

18.32% of entries from girls were awarded an A* (nationally 7.4%) 53.58% of entries from girls were awarded an A or A* (nationally 26.7%) 17.73% of entries from boys were awarded an A* (nationally 7.9%) 49.06% of entries from boys were awarded an A or A* (nationally 25.8%)

GCE A-level

32,378 pupils, representing 93.70% of the Year 13 ISC cohort, at 464 schools, took at least one A-level; 18.02% [2012: 17.99%] of entries (18,280) were awarded the top A* grade (national average 7.6% [2012 7.9%]); 51.30% [2012: 51.39%] of entries (52,022) were graded A* or A (national average 26.3% [2012: 26.6 %]); 99.41% [2012: 99.34%] of all entries (100,814 out of 101,415) received pass (A*-E) grades (national average 98.1% [2012: 98.0%]).

Other Qualifications

Pupils at ISC schools take a range of different qualifications. This year ISC has published results from a total of 481 schools, revealing information relating to the following qualifications:


1,201 pupils (3.48% of the Year 13 ISC cohort), at 41 schools, took at least one Pre-U. Between them, they took a total of 1,823 Pre-Us. In 2012, 1,159 pupils at 41 schools took a total of 1,736 Pre-Us.

International Baccalaureate (IB)

1,908 pupils (5.52% of the Year 13 ISC cohort), at 61 schools, took IB exams. In 2012, 1,851 pupils at 54 schools took IB exams.


455 pupils (1.32% of the Year 13 ISC cohort), at 38 schools, took at least one BTEC. In 2012, 325 pupils at 25 schools took at least one BTEC.

Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)

2,345 pupils (6.79% of the Year 13 ISC cohort), at 222 schools, took the EPQ. In 2012, 2,107 pupils at 210 schools took the EPQ.

Barnaby Lenon, Chairman, Independent Schools Council (ISC), said:

“Independent schools can be very proud of their pupils’ excellent exam results, with more than half of their A-levels being graded A* or A, nearly double the national figure. It is remarkable that the percent at independent schools gaining the top grade has remained unchanged, despite it having gone down nationally. Furthermore, a high proportion of the independent schools A-levels will have been the ‘hard subjects’ such as Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, ancient and modern languages. Many top university departments offering these subjects are dependent on independent school pupils for the quality of applicants they seek.

“This reflects pupils’ hard work and dedication and the exceptional level of teaching and support in independent schools. ISC includes a wide range of schools, both selective and non selective, but all provide young people with a bespoke education. Alongside a strong set of A-level results, schools have shown a rise in the take-up of alternatives including, notably, the Extended Project Qualification. Congratulations to all pupils on this fantastic achievement.”

Case Studies

1. Girls success at Science and Maths bucks national gender divide

Nearly half of all A levels sat by the 75 Upper Sixth girls at Withington Girls’ School were in the Sciences and Maths. This bucks the gender divide over these subjects where nationwide just under 21% of girls study Physics and 39% study Maths. A third of those going onto university from Withington this year have opted to study a subject where Sciences or Maths have been essential for their offer; courses such as Chemical or Mechanical Engineering, Natural Sciences and Astrophysics, as well as Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy and Maths.

At Withington, 77% of all A levels sat in STEM subjects were passed with A* or A grades this year. Four out of five of this year’s Upper Sixth students have studied a STEM subject at least to AS level. Withington has a long tradition of success at Sciences and Maths and an active Science department with a full programme of enrichment that includes visits to the CERN nuclear research centre in Switzerland, the Jodrell Bank Observatory, and opportunities for week long courses in engineering with the Smallpeice (sic) Trust.

Headmistress Sue Marks says

“We are extremely proud of our girls’ success in the STEM subjects. Our young women are encouraged to follow their own academic passions here, and there are no gender stereotypes. The majority of our science and maths teachers are female and they provide great role models in these subjects. “

Pupils such as

Helen Carrington, 18, from Hale in Cheshire, achieved 4 A grades in Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry and is heading to Imperial to study Physics.*

"As a girl studying physics, the prospect of throwing yourself into a predominantly male subject field can be pretty daunting. For me, it was a burning desire to understand the world around me and an inability to accept that something "just works". My school has given me the tools I need to follow my passion into higher education and I look forward to exploring this fascinating, ever expanding subject."

Charlotte Senn, 18, from High Legh, Cheshire, achieved 4 As in Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry and an A in German and is going to Cambridge University (Magdalen College) to study Natural Sciences.*

"Since I was a small child, I've always loved Maths, yet as I grew older, I knew that I wanted to study the things we see in the world around us. I was absolutely thrilled with my results and so much look forward to studying at Cambridge next year!”

2. Success at Modern Foreign Languages

Modern Foreign Languages still attract significant numbers at Dulwich College in South London.

Over 60% of pupils at Dulwich College study a modern foreign language at AS level and 45% carry on to A level, with over 94% achieving grades A*-A/B. The school runs some 22 MFL trips abroad and has a large MFL teaching staff of thirty. Subjects offered include French, German, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin. Enthusiasm runs high and even non linguists, pupils who may be taking predominantly Science subjects, still enjoy studying foreign languages at this level.

Sixth former Lawrence Robinson, 18, studied the three Sciences and Spanish at A level and now intends to apply to Oxford to study Medicine. He says:

"I chose to study Spanish as an extra A level to provide some diversity in my chosen subjects. It was a refreshing break to my otherwise science dominated schedule. Although it was not a requirement for my university course, I felt it would broaden my knowledge and increase my employability, but more importantly I found it interesting and challenging.”

Nick Mair, Dulwich's Director of Languages and Chairman of the Independent Schools’ Modern Languages Association, says

“We are delighted that pupils appreciate the academic, cultural and economic benefits of studying languages and that Ofqual has made a commitment to ensure competent linguists receive the grades they deserve.”

3. Making the student stand out - EPQ numbers increase.

With even more pupils taking the EPQ this year and many achieving outstanding grades, schools believe they help students stand out. While they don’t usually form part of the university offer, universities do recognise the extra depth of study these projects involve.

Up to two thirds of sixth form pupils at The Lady Eleanor Holles School in Hampton, Middlesex take the Extended Project Qualification, or EPQ, with 50% or more achieving an A*. For these 5,000 word extended essays, girls have researched subjects as diverse as ‘Invisibility Cloaks’ and ‘Women’s Literature in Medieval Japan’.

Head Mistress Gillian Low says:

“We value it greatly because the girls are genuinely exploring, on their own and in depth, a topic of their personal choice. It takes them a step further forward in their sixth form studies, bringing them even closer to undergraduate standards of research, independent thinking, and presentation skills. They are able to follow a passionate interest, and they relish this opportunity.”


Press queries

For more information, please contact: Tracy Cook, (Acting) Head of Press, Independent Schools Council: 020 7766 7062 (office), 07825 806017 (out of hours), or email

Notes to editors:

Year 13 exam results

ISC provides data on the achievements of year 13 pupils (upper-sixth formers) including grades by entry at GCE A-level; AS-level examinations not taken at full A-level; and Pre-U, International Baccalaureate (IB), BTEC and the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). Data for Applied and Non-Applied subjects are given in aggregate form at A-level and AS-Level.

There is no aggregation of grade information into UCAS points.

Full grade information (including a spreadsheet of school-by-school results) will be available from 12pm on Saturday 24 August 2013 at A final database of all results (taking into account re-marks and additional returns) will be issued in December.

View Exam Results 2013 data

Independent Schools Council

The Independent Schools Council (ISC) brings together eight associations of independent schools, their Heads, bursars and governors. These collectively represent over 1,200 independent schools in the UK and overseas, educating more than half a million children each year.