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GCSE Results Out As Grade Fall Predicted
Hundreds of thousands of teenagers are receiving their GCSE results as experts predict the overall pass rate could fall.
Attempts to "secure standards" along with changes to key GCSEs and moves by students to sit different exams could cause a drop in the pass rate for only the second time ever.
Pupils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are all finding out their grades today.
Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said it was "likely" that results will drop this year.
Last summer, the proportion of GCSEs awarded at least a C grade fell for the first time in the exam's history, with 69.4% getting this grade or higher - down 0.4% on 2011.
There was also a fall in the proportion of GCSEs awarded the top grades and drops in the percentage of English, maths and science GCSE entries achieving passes at A*-C.
Prof Smithers said: "I think it's likely that it will drop. Last year it came down a bit at all levels.
"What has happened is the pass rate has gone up year on year because everyone had a vested interest in that happening."
But he added that there is now a "true regulator", Ofqual, which has said that standards should be comparable year on year.
Prof Smithers said that the introduction of the Government's new English Baccalaureate, which is awarded to students who gain at least a C at GCSE in English, maths, science, history or geography and a language could also have an effect.
But he said pressure on schools to ensure pupils meet a set standard could counteract changes within exams.
This year schools must ensure that at least 40% of pupils get five or more Cs at GCSE including English and maths, as well as meeting national progress measures.
In July, Ofqual said it was expecting to see a "small drop in achievement" in science following a move to toughen up the qualifications in the wake of a 2009 report suggesting the courses were too easy.