Five things we already know about GCSE results 2020

Student celebrates GCSE results

Cancelled exams and school closures have caused a lot of uncertainty this year – but there are a few things we already know about this year’s GCSE results

We can’t tell you what your grade in maths will be, but we can share some insights about the results in general.

Here are five things we know about GCSE results this year.

1. Overall, GCSE 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 GCSE 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 1% for GCSE”.

2. The calculated grade 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 GCSE grades were 9% 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. You shouldn’t panic if your grades are lower than you hoped – schools have been asked to be flexible about their A-level admissions

If you miss the grades you need to get onto a particular A-level course, don’t panic – schools and colleges might be a bit more lenient about GCSE grades this year, given the exceptional circumstances.

Ofqual wrote a letter to heads asking them to put “slightly less weight” on GCSE results if students have “one or two lower grades” when they’re making A-level decisions this year.

“You may wish to consider whether you can offer greater flexibility in your admissions decisions than you would in any other year, to allow students to progress to the courses you offer,” the letter added.

4. More students will be getting results for combined science, history and Spanish this year

This year, there were 33,440 more students taking combined science than there were in 2019, although the numbers of students taking individual sciences went down – a total of 3,270 fewer students took biology, chemistry and physics in 2020 than they did than last year.

For history, there were over 11,000 more entries than last year and  the number of students taking a GCSE in Spanish was up 5%, with 4,760 more students opting for the subject this year than in 2019.

Here is the provisional data on GCSE entries in 2020.

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 November 2020, if you want to. We’ve put together a guide to these autumn exams here.

Exams will be offered for all GCSE subjects that should have happened in the summer, and they’ll run from Monday 2 November until Monday 23 November.

The exam board AQA has said that results day for the GCSE autumn exams will be Thursday 11 February 2021. 

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.

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 has 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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