This year’s exam results

As you are aware, the decision to cancel this year’s summer exams was not taken lightly. It was a necessary step in the national effort to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.

In place of normal exam results, GCSE, AS, and A Level students this year will receive grades based on a grade submitted by their teacher then standardised to ensure fairness across the country.

This model was developed by Ofqual and exam boards as the fairest way of assessing students’ progress and to reward years of hard work in these unprecedented times.

How have this year’s grades been calculated?

This year’s grades have been calculated through a combination of centre assessment grades and the rank order of students by their expected performance provided by schools and colleges, and a model of national standardisation developed by Ofqual and the exam boards to make sure that all grades are fair and valid.

You can find out more about this process by watching Ofqual’s explainer video, or visiting their website.


What is standardisation?

Standardisation is the process used by Ofqual and the exam boards to make sure that the same standards are applied across different schools and colleges.

The circumstances this year meant that schools and colleges did not have the opportunity to develop a common approach to grading in advance, so it is likely that some centres will be more generous in their judging, and others more severe.

The standardisation model will make sure grades are fair and that students are not advantaged or disadvantaged if their school or college was more generous or harsh when grades were put forward. The model will make sure that average grades across the country are not significantly higher or lower than previous or future years – if the spread of grades were significantly different this year, it would undermine their value.

What are the options if students aren’t happy with their grades?

The arrangements for grading this summer will enable the vast majority of students to progress to the next stage of study or employment.

If students are unsure or concerned about their options, they can take a look at our student guide. They can also access the National Careers Service website and their Exam Results Helpline on 0800 100 900 for information on appeals, complaints, or what their next steps may be.

Schools and colleges can also appeal if they believe something has gone wrong in processing their results or if they believe their historic data does not reflect the ability of their current students – that may be because they have experienced a recent change in leadership or because they have one or a number of exceptional students. Students who would like to use a valid mock result will also be able to do so through the appeals process, with individuals notifying their school or college who will provide evidence of their mock results to their exam board.

For students wishing to try and improve their grades by taking exams in the autumn, the support package outlined below will help schools with the costs associated with running these exams.

Support for schools and colleges to run autumn exams

Students who feel they could improve on their calculated grade will have the chance to sit exams in October and November.

An extensive support package has been launched this week to support all schools and colleges with essential additional costs associated with running exams in the autumn.

Where it is not possible to run exams on their own premises without disrupting study, schools and colleges will either be able to book sites through the Department for Education at no cost, or arrange sites themselves and claim back those costs. They will also be able to use the Government’s specialist staffing and events agencies to book invigilators and sites from September as well as being able to claim back costs later in the autumn term.

Read more about autumn exam support.

Where to find more updates and guidance

You will always be able to find the most recent COVID-19 updates and guidance for schools on our main GOV.UK page.

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