How exams are changing header graphicHow exams are changing header graphicIn association with WJEC, Pearson Edexcel, AQA and OCRIn association with WJEC, Pearson Edexcel, AQA and OCR
We have worked with UK exam boards and the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) to produce this guide. The JCQ represents the UK's six largest exam boards.
Everyone wants their exams to go well. But what happens when the grades don’t come out quite as you hoped?


Maybe you feel hard-done-by and want a second opinion. Or maybe you need to bite the bullet and resit.

How does this all work with the new reformed AS and A-levels?

We spoke to Michael Turner, director general at JCQ, to get answers to your questions on how A-level resits and reviews are changing.

Can I resit units from the old (legacy) A-levels?

Yes. Resit opportunities are usually available up until a year after the qualification ends. So if the last exams are in 2017, then there will be resit opportunities in the summer 2018 exam series.


"Resit opportunities may be available at the next assessment opportunity," says Turner. "Ask your school or college to confirm with the relevant exam board(s) whether the legacy specification you wish to resit will be available in a given examination series.

"For the academic years 2016-2017, and 2017-2018, any unit can be re-sat irrespective of whether the qualification is to be cashed in, subject to the availability of the legacy GCE unitised AS or A-level specification in a future examination series. Schools and colleges should seek guidance on future assessment opportunities from the relevant awarding body.

"If a candidate has claimed AS certification, he/she may still re-sit one or more AS units in addition to A2 units prior to cashing in for an A-level award."




Can I resit separate exams of the new A-levels?

No. You have to take all the exams again. If you do resit you will end up with two grades in that subject.

"For all reformed AS and A-levels, students can resit by taking the whole qualification again the following year," says Turner.

"Under a linear system, it is not possible to break this down into single exams or modules to be re-sat individually at different times.

"The whole AS or A-level qualification would have to be entered and sat in one go at the end of the course."

More on A-level exam changes:

How A-level course changes will affect you

How A-level exam marking is changing

Back to exam reform home page

How do I get a review of marking?

Contact your school or college as soon as possible if you think there may have been an error in marking. They will have to submit your application for a review.


There are various review services. The most basic is a clerical check that simply involves adding up your marks again.

But it’s more likely that you’ll want a review of your marks. This involves a second examiner looking at your marked paper. If they find errors they’ll change your mark.

There are two levels of service. The first is a priority review for students depending on their grades for a university place. The priority review comes through in around 18 calendar days. The regular review can take up to 30 days.

But watch out – there are strict deadlines, reviews are expensive and your marks can go down as well as up.





"Students who have not done as well as they hoped should speak to their subject teacher and/or the exams office staff at their school or college on results day to explore their options," adds Turner.

"If your school or college feels that an error has been made during the marking process and an enquiry about results is the best option, the school or college will process an application for an enquiry about results on your behalf.

"Please be aware, there is a firm deadline for this application, and in most cases, the school or college will need your written consent before they can submit the application, so make sure you are available if they ask you to sign a form.

"Schools and colleges must submit requests for reviews of GCE AS or A2 unit marking or unit moderation within the enquiry period immediately following the publication of results. It is not possible to make an enquiry about a unit taken in a previous series.

"An enquiry made in relation to an overall qualification grade is limited to a clerical check, ensuring that the aggregation of the unit marks has been correctly carried out.

"Schools and colleges may also submit applications to exam boards for the return of examination scripts to support teaching and learning, or to request a priority copy of a script before deciding whether to submit a review of marking."

How likely is it that a review of marking will be successful?

Not that likely – but certainly possible. In the summer 2016 exam series, around 18% of A- and AS-level reviews resulted in a grade change. Overall about 1% of all grades awarded were changed.


Bear in mind that grade change may be more likely in arts and humanities subjects where there can be a more subjective element to the marking.

"A very small proportion of enquiries about results actually lead to a grade change and students must be aware that grades can go down as well as up," says Turner.

"The grounds for submitting an enquiry about results are narrow and are set by the regulator.

"The purpose of an enquiry about results can be to check that the examiner’s marks on the paper have been added up correctly, that nothing has been overlooked or missed and that no clerical error has been made during the marking process that could have impacted your result.

"Applying for a review of marking will not simply give you a second opinion on whether or not your answers were worth a different mark. Unless an error is found, it is likely your grade will not change."

Exam regulator Ofqual publishes statistics each year on the number of enquiries about results and their outcomes.