• After results day

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WHAT TO DO WITH UNCLEAR EXAM RESULTS, POSSIBLE REMARKS and RETAKES

Some people get their exam results, get their Uni place and it's all fantastic. For others, everything isn't so marvellous; their results aren't what they expected, are unclear or incomplete, or simply inadequate for the course, subject or Uni they had their heart set on.

Here's a collection of information put together from some of the most commonly asked questions. Please note that this guide is tailored to fit GCSE and A-level students only, and may not correlate with any other examinations or qualifications.

Remarks

Should I get a remark?

Exam hall

Remarks are usually requested where a result comes back as being something that wasn’t expected. This could mean that the result was only a few marks from a grade boundary, or you feel that the result doesn’t reflect how you felt you did in the exam. They are also sometimes requested to gain a few more marks in modules where you feel they should have been given.

Universities are not obliged to hold a candidate's place in order to await the result of an remark request. It is at the discretion of the university whether or not they keep your place for you, but it is considered good practise to do so provided that the re-mark comes back showing that you met your offer and the universities are informed by 31 August. If they are not able to hold your place for this year, they may offer you a deferred place instead. It is important that if you are considering a re-mark you inform the university and discuss with them whether they will keep your place. Some universities ask you to notify them about re-marks using a form on their website.

When is a good time to request a resit?

...because I was one/two/three UMS marks off the next highest grade? This depends on the situation, and opinion is strongly divided. In the end, it's up to you; there are advantages and disadvantages to every situation and it is up to the individual to weigh these up against one another.

Many people believe that it is a good idea to remark in this situation. This is especially the case among students whose university offers depend on getting this extra UMS mark or two, and students in this position often do achieve the results they need.

However, many people believe that it is a bad idea to remark in this situation, particularly if the qualifications are unimportant (e.g. having achieved a very high A at GCSE in a subject that isn't being taken to A-level). Remember, with the amount of moderation that exam scripts go through another examiner will very likely give you exactly the same mark AND your mark could go down rather than up.

...because I genuinely thought I did better than my results slip claims? Generally, yes; many people have asked for remarks and shot up from low passing grades or even failing grades to Bs and As, simply because of a clerical error or a data input error. If you thought you had a comfortable A and your results slip shows you got an E, then maybe something odd has happened and you might want to ask for a remark.

Fast paper remarks

In addition to the standard remark service, a priority remark service is available for A-level students whose university offers depend on their grades. This service often costs more, and must be requested within a week of A-level results day. If you don;t need that grade for your firm choice (ie. they have accepted you anyway), then don't use the Priority service.

What do remarks cost?

A remark of a GCSE paper (note: paper, not subject!) will generally cost slightly over £40. An A-level module remark will cost around £40; a priority remark will cost around £45. Add £10 to each of these if you want a photocopy of your script returned to you. Some schools may add on additional admin fees. A standard remark must be requested within about a month of results day; a priority remark must be requested within a week of A-level results day. Note, though, that your remark fee will be refunded if the grade for the paper you are having remarked goes up.

Who do I ask if I want this?

Talk to your subject teacher. Do they feel a remark is justified? Take their advice - they do know what they are talking about. To organise a remark you should then contact your exam officer at your school, college or exam centre to get the process started.

IB Retakes and Remarks

See here

I still have questions!

You could ask on the forums; however, you will often get a more definite and direct answer by contacting your exam officer. Do not hesitate to do so if you are unsure of anything.

Access to your exam paper

I'd like to see my script

You can ask for a photocopy of a script or you can ask for the script itself back. The latter is normally cheaper; however, for obvious reasons, if the original script is returned to you, you can't send it back off for a remark! Requests normally have to be made within about 6 weeks of results day. Note that schools may charge additional admin fees.

Photocopy

This will cost you around £15 per A-level module (GCSE script prices vary). After requesting a photocopy, you can still ask for a remark (though it will arrive far too late for you to request a priority remark).

Original script

This will cost you around £12.50 per A-level module (GCSE script prices vary). After requesting the script, you can't ask for a remark if you decide you want one!

Who do I ask if I want this?

Contact your exam officer at your school, college or exam centre.

I still have questions!

You could ask on the forums; however, you will often get a more definite and direct answer by contacting your exam officer. Do not hesitate to do so if you are unsure of anything.

Resitting

Of course, if your grades are unsatisfactory but you believe that having access to your script and remarks will do nothing, you could always take the exam again.

When can I do this?

You can sit GCSE exams in the summer - that is, next May/June. In some papers it may even be possible to retake in the January exams though this exam sitting is being phased out. A-level modules can be retaken in the following summer ONLY, there are now no January sittings.

Nowhere does it say that you can only go to Uni straight from school. Yes, a few 'top' Unis are picky about retakes and won't accept resit grades, but the vast majority of UK Universities will be fine with improved grades from a second exam sitting. You only get to go to Uni once - if there is a particular course, subject or Uni you have your heart set on, retakes may be a way to achieve the right grades. One more year before you go to Uni isn't the end of the world if you want this badly enough.

Is it a good idea?

Exam hall

This can vary wildly. Generally, resitting GCSE exams that you've taken in year 10 is no problem because you have the whole of year 11 to concentrate on them. Resitting GCSEs in year 12 is much more difficult, though, and strongly discouraged, particularly if you're not carrying the subject on to AS.

Resitting AS exams during your A2 year is often a good idea, particularly in subjects such as maths and foreign languages, where many A2 units simply build on knowledge from AS units, and so resitting an AS module in your A2 year will seem easy!

Resitting A2 exams is obviously only possible if you take a gap year or resit year 13 (sometimes called year 14 the second time round) and is definitely a situation where individual discretion is advised. Ask your teachers for advice - is it worth you retaking in their opinion?.

Think about why you got that bad grade. If it isn't an easy subject for you, it still wont be. On the other hand if you are confident you can improve your performance considerably, then it may be worth a retake.

Who do I ask if I want this?

Talk to your subject teachers about doing retakes at school, or for A levels, think about another school or a local HE College. If you want to retake A levels as an independent candidate (ie. studying on your own, not within a school/college) you need to contact the exam officer at your school, college or exam centre.

I still have questions!

You could ask on the forums; however, you will often get a more definite and direct answer by contacting your exam officer. Do not hesitate to do so if you are unsure of anything.

University offers & UCAS - what do I do now?

Click here for advice on contacting universities, entering Clearing, and advice on other university-related post-results-day trauma.

Examiners' reports

These are often given on exam boards' websites within a couple of days of results day; check the individual boards' websites for more details.

Grading

What does this grade mean?!

Exam hall

A^,A*, A, B, C, D, E, F, G

A* with Distinction(A^)is the highest grade possible in any Level 2 course and is only achievable in AQA Further Maths IGCSE.It was introduced in the academic year of 2011-12 to reward achievement above Level 2.

A* is the top grade in GCSE higher tier and untiered examinations, except AQA IGCSE Further Maths. The A* grade will be introduced and awarded for full A-levels from summer 2010 (for the people starting A2 in September 2009 and onwards), and will be the highest grade.

A is the second highest grade at GCSE or third highest in AQA IGCSE Further Maths, and is the highest grade at AS level and the highest grade at A-level until summer 2010, when the A* grade will be awarded nationally.

B is the third highest grade at GCSE or fourth highest in AQA IGCSE Further Maths, it was the second highest grade at AS and A-level until July 2010 when the A* was introduced. Many schools or colleges require at least a B in a GCSE subject for the candidate to continue it to A-level. GCSE students taking the intermediate tier in mathematics, soon to be abolished, will not be able to receive higher than a grade B.

C is the fourth highest grade at GCSE or lowest in AQA IGCSE Further Maths, and was the third highest grade at AS and A-level until July 2010 when the A* was introduced. It is the highest passing grade at foundation tier GCSE. Although there are lower pass grades than C, they are often seen as a fail by most employers and universities; consequently, C is the lowest widely respected passing grade at GCSE and A-level. It is often expected that a candidate should have a C grade or higher in both maths and English at GCSE in order to progress to A-level or to accept many jobs; it is also often expected that a candidate should have five C-grade passes or higher at GCSE to continue to A-level.

D, although strictly a pass, is widely regarded as a failing grade by many employers and universities. It is quoted as the lowest passing grade achievable by candidates taking a higher tier GCSE exam, though occasionally an E grade is awarded for a near miss. Note: this could also stand for "distinction" in the context of an AEA; see distinction.

E is the lowest passing grade achievable by candidates taking a higher tier GCSE exam, and is only awarded to candidates who narrowly miss the required standards for a D grade. It is also the lowest passing grade at A-level.

F is the second lowest passing grade at GCSE foundation tier and for untiered GCSE examinations.

G is the lowest passing grade at GCSE foundation tier and for untiered GCSE examinations.

M Stands for "merit", in the context of an AEA; see merit.

#, Q, X # indicates that the candidate was absent from part of the exam and was awarded zero marks for that section. UMS marks are added up from the other exams in this subject and a final grade is awarded based on those.

Q indicates that no result has been issued because the marks for the components of the exam are not all available; candidates receiving a Q are advised to contact their exam officer at school or college.

X is given to GCSE candidates who failed to sit more than 50% of their exams for that subject, to A-level candidates who do not complete all the modules required for a subject, but subsequently attempt to cash in their modules, and for any other unspecified reason when the decision has been taken not to issue a grade.

S, 1, 2, 3 These are, from highest to lowest, passing grades in STEP (Sixth Term Examination Papers) exams.

Distinction, merit These are, from higher to lower, the two passing grades in an AEA (Advanced Extension Award) exam.

U U, or 'unclassified', is informally referred to as a 'fail'. Candidates whose performance in a subject merits a U will not receive a certificate in that subject.

UMS, marks, and grade boundaries UMS, the uniform marking system, is a method of standardisation. Basically, difficult papers where most people will have scored low have their marks scaled up, easy papers have their marks scaled down, and all sorts of fiddling is done in between to make sure it's all fair. Conversion from 'raw' marks to UMS marks is often not a simple scaling process, and so raw grade boundaries are difficult to predict from one year to the next. Just to add to the confusion, while the raw grade boundaries change constantly, and GCSE UMS grade boundaries change constantly, A-level UMS grade boundaries are fixed, and explained here. Grade boundaries are often given on exam boards' websites within a couple of days of results day; check the individual boards' websites for more details. "Top five" letters Many candidates receive 'letters' results on results day, mainly regarding AQA GCSE examinations, indicating that they have received one of the top five marks available for the subject; this generally means that they lost fewer than five UMS marks, and not that they are among the top five candidates.

Are my grades good/bad?

If you're happy with them, they're good. Don't feel inadequate or inferior because half your friends got 6 A*s or more and you were happy with your selection of As, Bs and Cs; that's perfectly normal, and you should be proud of your achievements. Conversely, don't hold back from resitting / remarking your A if you genuinely believe you deserve that 10th A* just because your friends were disappointed with their grades or were more than content with an A; these are your grades and you shouldn't allow any form of embarrassment, shame or pity stop you from getting the grades you deserve. An A is only a good grade if it's what you expected and aimed for or higher; those who scored lower may be resentful or envious of an A in itself, but that doesn't mean you should accept it if it doesn't meet your expectations.

Ok... what now?

  • Don't neglect your routine! Try and get back into the swing of getting up early, eating at regular mealtimes (as close to school / uni / wherever you're off to as possible), going to bed early, and so on.
  • Do some work! Doubtless you've forgotten how to write since the exams, so force a pen into your hand and do a bit of work relevant to your subjects. You'll be surprised how much you've forgotten; it does come back quickly, so don't worry, but you don't want to be behind at the start of term.
  • If you're going back to school, go buy stationery and uniform and stuff.
  • If you haven't finished your GCSEs, you may wish to look at our section on GCSEs.
  • If you're about to start your ASs, you might want to read up on how A-levels work or choosing your A-level subjects.
  • If you're about to start A2, it might interest you to read up on how to choose a university, how to choose a subject, and applying to university, or look at some sample personal statements.
  • If you're about to start uni, take a look at our section on student life, including all important issues on starting university, accommodation, finance and travel.
  • Those resitting, or those with exams still to come, may wish to look at our exam and study tips or subject guides and revision notes.
  • Anyone taking a gap year or going travelling might like to look at the relevant section.
  • Getting out of education? Then take a look at our information on writing the killer CV or careers and jobs.

All this and more can be found on the wiki home page, of course... I'm just kind enough to compile all the relevant one's for you here.

Most importantly, congratulations on your results, whatever they are, and best of luck for the future.

Also See

Useful links

  • AQA (Assessment and Qualifications Alliance)
  • OCR (Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations)
  • WJEC (Welsh Joint Education Committee - English)
    CBAC (Cyd-Bwyllgor Addysg Cymru - Welsh)
  • Edexcel
  • CIE (Cambridge International Examinations)
  • CCEA (Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment)
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