Five reasons to feel reassured about your calculated grades

happy students reading their results

Teachers have been generous in their grading and this year’s GCSE and A-level results are higher than 2019’s

A-level and GCSE results days are fast approaching, and you might be feeling nervous about your calculated grades. We can’t tell you how well you’ve done, but there are a few things we already know about this year’s results – and lots of them are pretty optimistic.

Here are five reasons to stay relaxed in the run-up to GCSE and A-level results days.

Teachers have been optimistic in their grading, and most students will receive the grades their teachers gave them in most subjects

This year, instead of sitting exams, students will be given calculated grades on GCSE and A-level results days.

Teachers were asked to give every student a grade for each of their subjects, then rank all of their students within each grade band. Next, the schools had to submit all of these grades to Ofqual to standardise and check for fairness.

Now that it has received all of the teacher-estimated grades, Ofqual said that the grades that the teachers submitted were 12% higher for A-levels in 2020 than they were in 2019, and 9% higher for GCSEs – although Ofqual’s standardisation did bring the averages down again.

Even if the averages aren’t quite as high as the teacher-submitted grades, this shows that teachers were generally more likely to be optimistic than to downgrade their students – and Ofqual has said that most students will get the grades that their teachers decided for them.

“Results for students will almost always be broadly in line with centres’ and teachers’ expectations, reflecting the skills, professionalism and integrity of those involved,” Ofqual commented about the 2020 calculated grades.

students excitedly reading their results

Overall, both GCSE and A-level results will be slightly higher than 2019

Even though Ofqual’s standardisation brought the averages of the teacher-submitted grades down, the 2020 GCSE and A-level results are still higher than last year’s.

GCSE grades have  gone up by around 1% from last year, and A-level grades around 2% after standardisation, Ofqual has announced.

Ofqual has not released the exact details of its standardisation model, but it has said that it took “a number of decisions which work in students’ favour” when it came up with the model.

“For example, the historical data used in the model will be based on previous years’ results after any reviews of marking or appeals,” Ofqual explained.

Grades that have to be adjusted down will, in virtually all cases, be just one grade below the teacher grade (which is likely to be generous)

Some grades may have been dropped by Ofqual’s standardisation – but in most cases, it won’t be by more than one grade. This is especially good news considering that teachers have generally been generous in their grading.

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

happy students reading their results

If there are very small numbers of students studying a subject at your school or college, the teachers’ grades will carry more weight than any statistical calculations

If you go to a small school or college, Ofqual will put more weight on your teachers’ estimates than on its standardisation process.

Ofqual said that this is because the smaller the number of students, the more likely results are to vary quite a lot from year to year. This means that it’s fairer to put less emphasis on how students at the school or college have done in past exams.

There isn’t a strict definition of how many students Ofqual would count as a small number, but this will be decided on a “sliding scale” to adjust how much weight is given to the teachers’ grades and how much to the statistical evidence depending on the amount of students in the class, Ofqual has said.

Universities and sixth forms are likely to be more flexible in their approach to admissions in 2020

You might be feeling particularly worried about your results if you need to get certain grades to be able to study the A-levels or start the university course that you have your heart set on.

It’s worth remembering that universities and sixth forms know that this is an unusual year, and there’s lots to suggest that they’ll be a bit more flexible about their admissions in 2020.

Ofqual has already asked colleges and sixth forms to have “greater flexibility” about letting this year’s GCSE students onto A-level courses in the autumn, suggesting that they put more weight than usual on evidence other than just grades.

And in a Q&A with Ucas, the universities minister Michelle Donelan confirmed that universities have said they’ll be more flexible with their admissions as well.

“This is a completely unprecedented time and I do appreciate how worried students and prospective university students must be at this time, but the sector has given a clear message. They’re going to be as flexible as possible,” Donelan commented.

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