The General Certificate of Secondary Education or GCSE, normally taken at the age of 16, sets a standard which the majority are expected to attain, but the General Certificate of Education at Ordinary Level (GCE O Level) which it replaced used a quota system for each grade. At the age of 18 access to higher education has been widened, with 30% of the age group now expected to enter higher education in the mid-1990s compared to 15% in 1979. Both developments have led to concern over falling standards.

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