Surge in Engineering, Maths and Science GCSE Exam Entries

Surge in Engineering, Maths and Science GCSE Exam Entries

England’s latest provisional exam entry data reveals a significant shift in subject preferences, with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects experiencing a surge in popularity among GCSE and A-level students.

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This trend highlights the growing recognition of the importance of STEM education in preparing students for the challenges and opportunities of the future.

GCSE Entry Trends

The overall number of GCSE entries has increased by 4.8% from 5,543,840 in summer 2023 to 5,811,790 in summer 2024.

Within this broader trend, STEM subjects have seen particularly notable growth. Engineering entries have skyrocketed by 17.4%, while statistics entries have increased by an impressive 20.3%. Mathematics and computing have also experienced significant rises, with entries increasing by 7.1% and 6.2%, respectively.

Table 1. Percentage change in selected GCSE entries in summer 2024 compared to summer 2023

SubjectEntries in Summer 2023Entries in Summer 2024Percentage change in entries

A-Level Entry Trends

Meanwhile, with A-levels, the overall entries have increased by 2.4% from 806,410 in the summer of 2023 to 825,390 in the summer of 2024. STEM subjects have been at the forefront of this growth. Further mathematics has seen a remarkable 19.8% increase in entries, while physics entries have risen by 12.6%. Computing has also maintained its upward trajectory, with entries increasing by 11.8% compared to the previous year. Notably, computing entries have nearly doubled over the past decade, reflecting the growing importance of digital skills in today’s world.

Table 2. Percentage change in selected A-level entries in summer 2024 compared to summer 2023

SubjectEntries in Summer 2023Entries in Summer 2024Percentage change in entries
Further mathematics14,53517,42019.8%

Factors Contributing to the STEM Surge

The increasing popularity of STEM subjects can be attributed to several factors. Students recognise the importance of acquiring relevant skills in the rapidly evolving technological landscape.

With the rise of artificial intelligence, automation, and digital transformation, there is a growing awareness that STEM education provides a solid foundation for future career prospects.

Government initiatives and campaigns have been crucial in promoting STEM education. The emphasis on the future English Baccalaureate (EBacc), which includes mathematics and science subjects, has encouraged more students to pursue these disciplines. Additionally, the government’s commitment to increasing the number of students studying STEM subjects at higher levels has increased the entry surge.

The rise in STEM exam entries bodes well for the future of the engineering and technology industries. As more students develop a strong foundation in mathematics, science, and computing, they will be better equipped to tackle these sectors’ complex challenges. However, ensuring that the education system is prepared to support this increased interest in STEM subjects is essential. Schools and colleges must have the resources, facilities, and qualified teachers to deliver high-quality STEM education. Furthermore, collaboration between educational institutions and industry partners is needed to provide students with real-world experiences and career guidance.

The surge in maths and science exam entries, particularly in subjects like engineering and computing, is a positive development that reflects the growing recognition of the importance of STEM education. As students increasingly opt for subjects that equip them with the skills needed to thrive in a technology-driven world, the education system must adapt to support this demand. We can lay the foundation for a more innovative, prosperous, and sustainable future by nurturing a new generation of STEM-literate individuals.


  • STEM subjects, particularly maths, science, and engineering, have significantly increased GCSE and A-level exam entries in England.
  • Engineering entries at GCSE have risen by 17.4%, while further mathematics entries at A-level have increased by 19.8%.
  • The surge in STEM popularity is driven by changing student interests, focus on future-proof skills, and government initiatives promoting STEM education.
  • The rise in STEM entries has positive implications for the engineering and technology industries, driving innovation and economic growth.
  • Schools and colleges must be prepared to support the increased demand for STEM education with resources, facilities, and qualified teachers.
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