What were "good" O level results in 1987?

(179 Posts)
Tanaqui Fri 15-May-15 17:48:43

Does anyone have any data on how O level grades back then correlate to GcSE grades now?

I am aware that it obviously isn't a clear comparison, but maybe just in terms on what % of children got an A, B or C?

Year 11 ds wants to know how well I did, compared to how well he might do!

Feel very old as 87 was the last year of O levels!

Have tried google, but get lots of newspaper dumbing down articles and would rather something a bit more accurate.


Namehanger Fri 15-May-15 17:57:15

With 3b's and 4c's, predicted B's for A level x3 - I got offered places at Edinburgh (needed 2B's & 1c) Aberdeen. & Manchester. That was in 1985 !

DayLillie Fri 15-May-15 17:58:41

GCE O level Grammar school expected a minimum of 5 subjects grade C or above. 8 grade As excellent, 8 with mixture of A and B with odd C good. I think about 20% of my year group got 8 subjects.

I don't think you can really compare them to GCSE as the way they mark them is different and the syllabus too.

Seriouslyffs Fri 15-May-15 18:03:04

A grades were rare. Even the 2 girls from my comprehensive who went to Oxford didn't get a clean sweep, rather 5/6 A's 4/5 B's
The following year when GCSEs were introduced I heard of a couple of girls who got clean sweeps of As.
Famously at VI form a boy was telephoned because he'd got all A's at A level.

PettsWoodParadise Fri 15-May-15 18:04:33

Slightly related I attach a picture from a seminar I attended only last night about the IB. They compared grade inflation of A-levels with the IB. Quite interesting!

TalkinPeace Fri 15-May-15 18:04:52

The point with the old O level grades is that they were set on the normal distribution
the top 10% in each subject got an A, the next 15% got a B, the next 15% got a C and so on

therefore in my class only one girl got 9 x A grades (A* was invented decades later)
and she is pretty world famous now

most of us took 8 GCEs (private selective school BTW)
I got an A, 5 Bs and a C my last one I failed with a D

strings of Bs with the odd A were the norm

Seriouslyffs Fri 15-May-15 18:05:44

They were marked differently. The top 5% got an A, next 10 B, etcetera (those aren't the exact figures and the varied from subject to subject.

bruffin Fri 15-May-15 18:07:41

In 1979 5 passes put you in top 15%. A pass then was C and above. A D was a fail by 5% or less

Tanaqui Fri 15-May-15 18:08:14

Was it still on a normal distribution in 87? Had a feeling that had gone by then (if it hadn't I am actually cleverer than I thought!).

I do remember it seemed like more people got As the first year of GCSEs.

Gasp0deTheW0nderD0g Fri 15-May-15 18:08:29

I went to a very academic girls' school (direct grant) in the 70s. Almost every girl in my year got 9 O levels, some got 8, a few took/passed fewer. Hardly anyone in the year got all As but there were quite a few who did better than me. I got 6 As and 3 Bs which I was pretty pleased with! I got into UCL with 3 Bs at A level (my offer was 2 Es). Changed times!

MoggyP Fri 15-May-15 18:09:35

At my grammar school in the early 80s, the top two performers (seriously academic girls, and diligent) got 8A/1B and 7A/2B and that was considered amazingly good.

No idea what the proportions were. It was bell-curve marking, so it was something like top 10% A, next 15% B, then 25%C (those were the 'pass' grades) then 25% D, 15% E and 10% unclassified.

TooBusyByHalf Fri 15-May-15 18:10:31

I got 4 As and 6 Bs (in 1986) and went to Cambridge Univ. I think I was the thickest of my cohort there but def near the top at school. So I would say that kind of range would be considered 'good'.

SwedishEdith Fri 15-May-15 18:10:39

Did mine in early 80s and don't think I knew of anyone who got all As. They're not comparable as, I think, there were quotas. So, top 10% would get A, next 10% B etc - that type of thing, regardless of how well you actually answered. But, I think, for GCSEs you get the grade based on how you answered the question - so you'll get an A if you get 70% even if 20% of the cohort also get 70%. I think that's how it works now.

buggerthebotox Fri 15-May-15 18:11:14

I go right back to '76 wink. I was considered "bright" in the academic sense and got 7 'O' Levels with 4 As, 2Bs and a C, including English Language, Lit and Maths. At my school you had to have 5 passes (A-C) to go into Form 6. I did another 2 and passed in Lower 6th.

In those days, 5passes was the passport to the Civil Service (or any of the public services really). Most people aimed at that as most left and got jobs at that point.

I think the difference (I have this discussion with my dd) is that you had to pass the exam, otherwise you failed. There was no course work, so no chance of building up marks that way. You could resit, but you had to wait. No-one resat exams they had passed, for better grades.

I don't think that many kids got the 5 passes but as long as there were jobs, that didn't matter too much.

I think it's hard to compare then with now, tbh. In those days, the teachers didn't seem to be that bothered: if you didn't work,tough. It was your call. League tables and the like didn't seem to exist, so not so many vested interests in passes.

I think my daughter is going to be taking 4 compulsory subjects plus another 5 non-compulsory ones. To be honest, she's no high flier academically; I think that's standard across the board at her school.

I think the main difference is the number of kids going to University now. In my day, it was 5%; now it's closer to 50%, I think. And you could get in somewhere then with a couple of quite poor ALevel grades; now the entry requirements seem much higher.

Coldcabbagestew Fri 15-May-15 18:11:19

No idea about O levels but I attended a grammar school in the early 90s after the introduction of GCSEs. I remember that only a handful of students each year would get all A grades. A mixture of As, Bs and Cs was the norm. This was before the introduction of A* grades in 1994. Most of us only took 9 GCSEs - which was plenty even for students in a selective school

KittiesInsane Fri 15-May-15 18:15:44

I did get straight As at O and A Level (am now a seriously underachieving adult, though. Oops).

HarrietSchulenberg Fri 15-May-15 18:16:18

In 1987 I got 4xA, 3xB, 2xC and a D, which must have been pretty good as a bit of a fuss was made by my (very academic, very good) state school.

At A level 2 years later I got an A and 3 Bs, which was also considered fussworthy.

peltata Fri 15-May-15 18:17:25

9 O levels were the norm at my comp only 25% of year group did O levels 3-4 As 4-5 Bs and a couple of Cs were considered a good result. Most universities (now they would be the Russell group) offered BBC at ALevels for science courses. Oxbridge was either pass their entrance exam or take standard offer of 3As. Standard offer for Medicine was 2 As and a B in the correct subjects ie a combination of maths, chem, bio, physics

buggerthebotox Fri 15-May-15 18:18:25

....I mean "poor" in the relative sense....I was offered a place to study languages on 2 Es (I got A, B, and C) which in those days was considered pretty good. Those (rare) people who went to Oxbridge were considered exceptional; I remember a couple of lads getting 6 A levels eachshock. Now, 6 A levels seems quite meh!

Tanaqui Fri 15-May-15 18:21:51

I am feeling retrospectively hard done by!

Went to a very bog standard comp, was pretty miserable, 5 As, 3Bs and a C- all academic subjects except food and nutrition (compulsory to take a creative subject), no fuss or even acknowledgement!

Going to give myself a well done!

So no way of comparing to ds?! He reckons just one A* and he's beaten me! ( this is not serious btw, just a distraction from the grimness of exams!).

GentlyBenevolent Fri 15-May-15 18:23:02

seriously Everyone I knew at Cambridge (I went in 1985) had clean sweeps at both O and A level. A grades were not rare, not even back then. They weren't like they are now but by 1987 they had stopped marking them relatively and started marking them on an absolute basis (ie they had stopped saying top x% gets A and moved to anyone who gets a mark above x% gets an A - that's when the inflation kicked in).

TheFallenMadonna Fri 15-May-15 18:24:34

I got 9 As in 1987. I am not famous.

GentlyBenevolent Fri 15-May-15 18:26:21

Talkin at my London comp in 1983 2 of us got 9 As. We both got clean sweeps at A level too in 1985 (and again, we were the only ones. 4 As each. A couple of other girls got 3As 1B or 2As 1B). Obviously grades are miles higher today but it's simply not true to paint the 80s as a time when As were like hen's teeth. They really weren't.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 15-May-15 18:27:46

O levels were much harder than GCSE's and there wasn't a chance of taking it again or the leaway they have now.
GCSE's are more like CSE, everything was dumbed down terribly from the 80's.

TalkinPeace Fri 15-May-15 18:28:10

Everyone I knew at Cambridge (I went in 1985) had clean sweeps at both O and A level
Well duh
they would do
because Cambridge and Oxford took the pick of te bunch
that is not at all representative of what the top 20% of students were getting
of whom a few went to University, a few went to Polytechnics and most went straight into work

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