Five things we already know about GCSE results 2023

students taking exam

There's still a while to wait for your actual grades, but there are some things we already know about GCSE results day

It's been a long time coming, but GCSE results day is almost here. Grades are released from 8am on 24 August 2023, and until then they are kept a closely guarded secret.

However, there are a few things we do already know; read on to see how GCSE results might look this year.

More like this: guide to GCSE results day 2023

1. Overall results will be lower than last year

Exams went ahead as planned this year, but the after-effects of the Covid pandemic are still being felt. When the exams of 2020 and 2021 were cancelled (following lockdowns and school closures) everyone still got grades. But they were much higher than usual. With no exams to mark, teacher predictions were used to decide everyone's grades. 

Once exams returned last year, the exam boards' plan was to get grades back towards normality. They looked to set grades somewhere between how they were in 2019, before the pandemic, and how they were in 2021 (the last year of teacher-defined grades). 

That plan continues this year, where grading is supposed to be fully back to normal. So you can expect to see results that are comparable with 2019 (when 67% of results were grade 4 or above) but are a little lower than last year's (when 73% of results were grade 4 or above). 

"It will be most meaningful to compare this year’s results with 2019, the last year that summer exams were taken before the pandemic," wrote Ofqual associate director Rachel Taylor on the exam regulator's blog.

"The approach to grading means that results for individual schools and colleges are highly likely to be lower than last summer." 

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2. Grades might be slightly less difficult to achieve than normal

Although grades will be lower than last year, that's going to be due to exam boards' planned adjustments to marking. The exam boards say they have a system that will prevent groups of students from getting lower grades because of disrupted learning time. 

"This year GCSEs, AS and A-level grading standards are returning to normal," write Dr Jo Saxton, head of Ofqual and Claire Marchant, head of Ucas in a joint letter to students.

"There is, however, some grading protection built in to the overall national results (not at individual student level), because of the disruption students have faced,

"This protection won’t boost your marks by whole grades, but it will mean that the quality of work required to achieve a grade is ever so slightly lower than would have been needed before the pandemic."

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3. GCSE French and German students will get more 'generous' marking

Back in 2019, an Ofqual review found that GCSE French and GCSE German exams were being too severely graded. Since then, exam boards have been required to mark those exams more leniently.

"Ofqual’s approach to grading this summer allows the pre-pandemic relationships between subjects to be re-established," writes Taylor on the Ofqual blog.

"We will, however, require exam boards to award GCSE French and German more generously, following our announcement in 2019 that we would seek better alignment between these subjects and GCSE Spanish."

4. Grades will be consistent across all exam boards

It can be really frustrating to feel like you've sat the hardest version of a particular exam paper, especially while students taking another exam board are chatting about how easy theirs was. But any inequality in terms of exam difficulty gets ironed out during the grading process.

"Exam boards will use data as a starting point for grading," writes Taylor. "Using data is important to support alignment between exam boards, so that it is no easier to get a grade with one exam board than another."

More like this: 11 things A-level students wish they’d known

5. Your exam paper is anonymised before it is marked

Consistency is a key aim for exam boards and for the the exam regulator Ofqual. So all exam papers have any identifying elements removed before they are marked by an examiner.

"Your work is marked and graded by expert examiners," write Saxton and Marchant. "They do not know your name, which school or college you attended, or where in the country you live.

"Ofqual makes sure that the rules are the same for all students taking the same qualification."

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