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 GCSEs?

We put questions from the TSR community to Michael Turner, director general at JCQ, to get all the detail on how GCSE course changes will affect you.

Do I have to resit English and maths if I don’t do well?

Not necessarily. But English and maths GCSEs are really important ‘passports’ that show you’re able to grasp the basics of these key subjects and are ready to move on to the next stage.


In the old system grade C was considered a 'good pass'. Things have changed a bit in the new system, where a grade 4 will be considered a 'standard pass' and grade 5 a 'strong pass'.

If you’re not sure about what your results mean or whether you should resit, talk it over with your school or college. They will have teachers and advisors available after the results come out.

"Students who wish to progress to further education courses or A-level should check the entry requirements for the course they want to study," says Turner.

"If you have not met the minimum grade requirements, you may prefer to resit some subjects in order to pursue your chosen path.

"Speak to your teacher or the exams officer at your school or college to explore your options."

More on A-level exam changes:

How GCSE course changes will affect you

How GCSE exam assessment is changing

From A* to 9: how GCSE grades are changing

Back to exam reform home page

Can I resit GCSEs in November?

Yes, but only English and maths. Any other subject resits will have to wait until the next summer.


"November GCSE examinations are currently available in English, English language and mathematics, but only to students who are re-sitting," says Turner.

"Speak to your school or college to confirm whether the qualification specification you wish to resit will be available for a given examination series."

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.

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," says 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, they 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.

"It will not be possible to re-mark a unit in a subsequent examination series when it is cashed-in. A unit can only be re-marked immediately after the result has been issued.

"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."

How likely is it that a review of marking will end up with a higher grade?

Not that likely – but certainly possible. In the summer 2016 exam series around 18% of GCSE 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 understand 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 an enquiry about results (a clerical check) will not get 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."

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

What will my results slip look like if it’s got both old and new grades?

While the system is changing there will be a mixture of letter and numerical grades on GCSE results slips. You’ll also see separate marks for spoken English (distinction/merit/pass/unclasssified).


"The first reformed English language, English literature and maths GCSEs will be sat in England in the summer of 2017," says Turner.

"Students receiving their GCSE results in August 2017 will see a mixture of A*-G and 9 to 1 grades on their statement of results. The endorsement grade will also appear for subjects with an additional endorsement, such as English."