What was the hardest A-level exam of 2019?

Student sitting exam
by Hayley Pearce | 3 July 2019

It’s official – we have crowned the hardest A-level exam paper

TSR created a shortlist of the top five hardest A-level papers sat in summer 2019, as decided by TSR members in a thread about the hardest and easiest A-level exams this year.

We then polled the TSR community to find out the hardest A-level exam. All three of the Edexcel Maths papers made it into the five trickiest exams.

Here were the five options:

  • Edexcel Maths Paper 1
  • Edexcel Maths Paper 2
  • AQA Chemistry Paper 2
  • Edexcel Maths Paper 3
  • AQA Physics Paper 3

672 people voted in the poll, and Edexcel Pure Maths Paper 2 ran away with it, cruising into first place to earn its title of hardest A-level exam paper 2019.

hannahrl1708 agreed with the result, saying: "The first and third were nice papers but the second one was terrible."

More than 36% of voters said it was the most difficult exam. In second place with nearly 21% of the votes was AQA Chemistry Paper 2 and close behind was Edexcel Maths Paper 1 with just over 20%.

yoyox said: "AQA Chemistry Paper 2 was the worst. I've never found chemistry hard, Ive always been getting top marks but I ran out of time so missed questions and realised I've made mistakes on some after, it was an unfair paper."

AQA Physics came next with nearly 13%, followed by Edexcel with nearly 10% of the votes.


In the unofficial mark scheme for the paper, a poll asking TSR members to estimate how many marks they got showed that more than 41% of people thought they had picked up less than 71 marks.

But that still means the majority of people thought they got more than 71 marks.

Study forum helper thekidwhogames said the exam was “challenging”, while RedGiant, also a study forum helper said: “Most of my class found it tough.”

What do you think? If you took these papers, which did you find the hardest?

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