Five things we already know about A-level results 2020

Student read A-level results

Cancelled exams may have left you not knowing what to expect from results day this year – but there are a few things we already know about this year’s A-level grades

We can't tell you what your grades will be, or whether you've got into uni. But we can share some insights about the exam results in general.

Here are five things we know about A-level results this year.

1. Overall, A-level results will be slightly higher than last year

Teachers were asked to grade and rank all of their students this year, in place of the cancelled AS and A-level exams. Once the teacher submitted their grades to the exam boards, they were standardised – meaning, they were checked and some grades were adjusted to make sure the  results were consistent across all schools and colleges.

And at the end of July, having seen the final grades, Ofqual announced that “national results this summer may be slightly higher than last year’s, approaching an increase of around 2% for A-level”.

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2. The mark your teacher gave you might be different to the one you receive – but probably not by much

As part of the same announcement, Ofqual revealed that the grades submitted by teachers were, on average, lowered by the standardisation process.

Before the results were standardised, the teacher-submitted A-level grades were 12% higher than they were last year. Ofqual said that this was “not surprising, given that the circumstances meant teachers were not given an opportunity to develop a common approach to grading in advance; and they naturally want to do the best for their students”.

But Ofqual also pointed out that for the majority, their results won’t have changed from the teacher-submitted grades and, if they have, for most students it will only be the difference of one grade.

“Almost all grades students receive will be the same as the centre assessment grades or within one grade,” Ofqual commented.

If you want to know whether your teacher’s grades differed from your final results you’ll have to wait until after results day to ask them, as Ofqual has banned teachers from discussing grades with students until then.

After results day, teachers are allowed to tell you how they graded you if they want to, but it’s totally up to them whether they share that information or not.

3. Fewer students will be getting A-level and AS-level results this year than in 2019

The amount of students taking A-levels in summer 2020 went down by 2%, from 745,585 in 2019 to 731,855 in 2020. This might be because there are fewer 18 year-olds in England in 2020 than there were in 2019, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.

And the number of AS-level entries continues to fall, decreasing by 26% this year from 117,595 in 2019 to 86,970 in 2020. From 2015 until now, there’s been an overall decline of 93%.

This is because AS-levels were part of A-level exams before 2015, but now that A-levels are linear AS-levels no longer count towards final grades.

Here is the provisional data on A-level entries in 2020.

4. More students will be getting maths results this year, while fewer will be getting history and geography results

Maths had the most entries of all the subjects this year, with 89,730 students taking the subject – an increase of 4% from last year’s 86,185 entries.

History and geography were less popular this year, though. There were 6,275 fewer entries for history in 2020 than there were in 2019, and geography went down by 4,580 entries.

5. If you’re unhappy with your calculated grades, you might not be allowed to appeal but you will be able to sit optional exams in the autumn

If you’re unhappy with your calculated grades, you’ll have the option to sit your exams in October 2020, if you want to. We’ve put together a guide to these autumn exams here.

Exams will be offered for all A-level and AS-level subjects that should have happened in the summer, and they’ll run from Monday 5 October until Friday 23 October. 

The exam board AQA has said that results day for the A-level autumn exams will be Thursday 17 December 2020. 

You can find the links to all of the exam boards’ full timetables for the autumn exams here.

If you decide to take your exams and you get a lower mark than your calculated one, you’ll get to keep the higher grade instead. This means there’s no risk attached to taking the exam.

If you miss your grades on results day, you might be wondering whether taking the autumn exams would affect your chances of starting university this year. There’s no set answer to this, as it’s something that will be up to the individual universities to decide.

But Ofqual has said that it has asked universities to be flexible in their admissions decisions for students choosing to take exams in the autumn and that it has been “reassured” by their response.

It’s also worth remembering that you won’t be able to appeal for a second opinion on your calculated grade, but if you and your teacher think someone has made a mistake when typing in your results, your school should be able to appeal and get that fixed.

You would also be able to appeal if you have evidence that your school is biased or has discriminated against you.

Find out more about appealing your calculated grades here.

Ofqual have opened a student support phoneline that you can call if you want more information about calculated grades, the autumn exams or how to make an appeal. The number is 0300 303 3344.

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