London: Damning evidence that exams have become far easier in recent years has emerged in the biggest ever study of standards.
Sixth-formers achieve up to three grades higher at A-level than pupils of the same ability in the 1980s, research shows.
Pupils who failed A-level maths 20 years ago would be in line for Cs had they taken the exam last year.
The researchers, who studied the results of 300,000 A-level pupils over nearly two decades, believe the exams have become more leniently graded.
The analysis by Durham University academics is highly embarrassing for ministers who have attempted to make political capital out of results that are apparently improving.
While the trend began before Tony Blair's Government came to power in 1997, it has continued under Labour, the researchers say.