Leader: Accuracy vs access

April 30, 2004

The annual panic over admissions to the top universities has started early this year, sparked by the apparently surprising discovery that three As at A level do not guarantee a place to study medicine. In fact, entry to medicine is hardly any more selective than it was five years ago - there are more applicants but also more places. The difference is that more sixth-formers are being predicted (and are getting) the top grades. Expectations rise and, with them, levels of disappointment.

An A* grade, or greater use of marks, would help ensure that the top performers win through, but modelling by the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance shows that the beneficiaries would come mainly from independent schools. Given the class profile disclosed in our own analysis that would be bound to lead to even more controversy over widening participation.

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