Can I appeal my A level and GCSE grades? Options explained for students in England receiving AQA exam results

Pupils will receive the results of their GCSE’s on Thursday 20 August, with grades to be awarded based on teacher’s assessments

Wednesday, 12th August 2020, 4:44 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th August 2020, 9:35 am

More than half a million pupils have been unable to sit their A level and GCSE exams this year, after all examinations were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Exam results in England are to be awarded via a new ‘triple lock’ process which will give pupils added security when they receive their grades.

The new process is intended to provide pupils with an additional safety net to the system of calculated grades.

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Pupils will be able to use their mock exam results as the basis for an appeal

The change came just a day before A level pupils were due to receive their results on 13 August and follows problems with grading in Scotland earlier this month, which saw 120,000 students downgraded in the moderation process.

How have exams been graded?

Pupils have a choice of accepting their calculated grade, appealing to receive a valid mock result, or to sit their exams in autumn.

All three grades will hold the same value with universities, colleges and employers, the Department for Education has said.

At the request of the government, all schools were asked by Ofqual, the office of qualifications and examinations regulation, to send exam boards two pieces of information for each subject, by 29 May.

This included:

- The grade schools believe students would have most likely got if exams had taken place as planned. These are referred to as CAGs or Centre Assessed Grades.

- A ranked list of all students within each grade for each subject

Every school was asked to consider a wide range of evidence, including classwork, non-exam assessments, mock exams, and previous results in the subject.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “By ensuring students have the safety net of their mock results, as well as the chance of sitting autumn exams, we are creating a triple lock process to ensure confidence and fairness in the system.

“No one wanted to cancel exams – they are the best form of assessment, but the disruption caused by Covid-19 meant they were not possible.

“This triple lock system will help provide reassurance to students and ensure they are able to progress with the next stage of their lives.”

The moderated grades A level pupils received on results day on 13 August left thousands disappointed, after almost 40 per cent of were downgraded after the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation used an algorithm based largely on schools’ previous results.

In response to the backlash, the government later agreed that pupils can instead be awarded their school or college estimated grade, or the moderated grade from exam regulator Ofqual - whichever is the highest.

GCSE students are to receive their results on 20 August, with these to be based on teacher’s assessments.

Can results be appealed?

In the event pupils are unhappy with the grade they are awarded, the right to appeal will be tightly restricted.

Mr Williamson previously pledged that pupils could use the highest result out of their calculated grade from exam boards, their mock exams, or sit the actual exam in the autumn.

However, following the decision to allow teachers’ grades to be used instead, the Education Secretary has said that mock exam results will not be a key part of the appeals process for A level and GCSE students in England.

Pupils who are unhappy with both their calculated grade and centre assessment grade will still be able to sit exams in the autumn.

If pupils believe a mistake was made in their grading, they cannot directly appeal their results themselves, as only schools are allowed to submit an appeal.

How to appeal results

Pupils can challenge the result of a GCSE, AS Level or A level qualification if:

- their school or college made a mistake when sending the grading information

- their school or college thinks the result is wrong

- they have evidence of wrongdoing, including discrimination

When a review is requested the mark may be changed if the reviewer thinks it’s wrong, although it may be higher or lower than the original grade. You or your school may have to pay if the mark is not changed.

If you are unhappy with the decision of the review, an appeal can then be made to Ofqual. This must be made within 15 days of getting the result of a review. The deadline to submit a review for GCSE and A and AS levels is 17 September 2020.

Further information on how to submit an appeal can be found in the Ofqual guide online.

If you cannot apply online, or have further questions about the appeal process, you can call Ofqual on 0300 303 334, or email [email protected]