Mathematics now the most popular A level in Northern Ireland

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Figures released this morning on behalf of the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQCIC), show an increase in numbers taking A levels in Northern Ireland this year, driven by a notable rise in entries in Mathematics.

The subject is now the most popular A level accounting for 1 in 10 of all Northern Ireland A level entries.

Entries in Mathematics rose by 8.6%.

Overall A Level entries rose by 2.5% from 31,600 in 2014 to 32,390 this year.

Participation in the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) remains strong.

Along with Mathematics there were increases in numbers taking Design and Technology, up 8.8%, and ICT, up by 4.5%. Of particular interest is an

increase this year in the number of females taking A levels in STEM subjects, with increases in Biology (+5.7%), Chemistry (+3.3%), Physics (+2.1%), Mathematics (+10.6%) and Design and Technology (+24.5%).

Entries in Modern Languages are broadly stable.

Students continue to perform strongly at A level, with the overall A* - E pass rate rising slightly by 0.1 percentage points to 98.2%. There was also a small increase in those awarded the top grade, with 7.6% of entries receiving an A*, up 0.3 percentage points on last year.

The percentage of entries achieving A* - A fell slightly to 29.3%, down by 0.6 percentage points.

While females still account for the majority of A*s awarded (7.8%), this year the percentage of males achieving the highest grade rose by 0.6 percentage points to 7.4%.