A-level and GCSE results 2021: This is how exam grades will be decided and how students can appeal
Students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive their A-level and GCSE results this week after exams were cancelled for the second year in a row due to the Covid pandemic.
Students will be given grades determined by teachers, rather than exams, with pupils only assessed on what they have been taught during the pandemic.
Here we look at some of the questions that students and parents might be asking about this year’s results.
When will pupils receive their A-level and GCSE results?
Students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive their A-level and GCSE results this week.
A-level and AS level results day is Tuesday, August 10 and GCSE results day is Thursday, August 12.
Pupils should check with their school or college whether they are still required to pick up their results in person in the morning, or whether they will be sent out by email or post instead.
How have the grades been decided this year?
All four nations – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – adopted a system of awarding grades this summer based on teacher based assessment.
Teachers in England have been required to consider a range of evidence, including mock exams, coursework, and in-class assessments using questions by exam boards, to make decisions on pupils’ grades.
Headteachers had to submit a personal declaration that they believed grades to be accurate.
Schools and colleges were asked to provide samples of student work to exam boards, as well as evidence used to determine the grades for the students selected, as part of quality assurance (QA) checks.
Random and targeted sample checks of evidence were also carried out after grades were submitted.
In some cases, where the evidence did not support the grades submitted, schools and colleges have been asked to review their grades.
Last summer, the fiasco around grading led to thousands of A-level students having their results downgraded from school estimates by a controversial algorithm, before Ofqual announced a U-turn.
But this year, no algorithm will be used to moderate teachers’ grades.
What should students do if they are unhappy with their final grades?
Pupils in England who want to appeal against their grade must first request that their school or college reviews whether an administrative or procedural error was made.
Each school or college will set their own deadlines by which students must ask them to review a grade.
If the school or college rules no error was made, then students can escalate the appeal to the exam boards, which their school or college is expected to submit on their behalf.
In England, the deadline to send an appeal to the exam board is September 17.
There is an earlier deadline of August 23 for priority appeals, for example, if a student has not got their first choice of university place confirmed.
Can students sit an exam if they do not like their results?
Students in England who are unhappy with their A-level or GCSE grades will have the opportunity to take exams in the autumn.
AS and A-level exams will be held in October, while GCSE exams will take place in November and December.
The higher grade will count for applicants who wish to take an autumn exam.
What is the plan for the summer exams in 2022?
In England, ministers hope that exams will go ahead in summer 2022 after two years of cancelled exams.
But pupils taking GCSE and A-level exams next year could be given advance notice on the focus of exam papers to ensure they are not disadvantaged as a result of lost learning during the pandemic.
The proposals include giving schools and colleges some choice over the topics that students are assessed on, as well as providing exam aids, but final details will not be confirmed until the autumn term.