How to appeal your calculated grades

paper being scored

This summer, your grades will be decided by your teachers. Here’s what you can do if you think they’ve got it wrong

Things are being done a bit differently than usual this year – all of this summer’s exams were cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, and everyone’s grades will be calculated by their teachers instead.

Teachers will have assigned every student a grade for each of their subjects, and then the school will rank all of its students within each grade band. So, for example, out of all the students who have been assessed as Grade 5 for GCSE English, which of them is the strongest within that band?  

GCSE students will be getting their calculated grades on Thursday, 20 August 2020 and A-level students on Thursday, 13 August 2020.

Because students are getting calculated grades instead of sitting exams, anyone who thinks their grade is unfair won’t have the option to get their paper remarked like they would have in previous years.

Instead, there will be an appeals process that can only be used in very specific circumstances – here’s everything we know so far about how it will work.

You won’t be able to get your calculated grade checked by somebody else

The exams regulator, Ofqual, has made it clear that you won’t be able to challenge your calculated grade or ranking on the basis that you think your teacher has made a bad decision and you want someone else to check your results.

This is because allowing these kinds of individual appeals would delay the results being published, Ofqual says.

Ofqual also says that, as this is a completely new way of doing things, there’s no benchmark that would make it easy for someone else to check the calculated grades. And finally, allowing these kinds of appeals could cause problems with the ranking system as one person’s position changing would potentially affect everyone else within the ranking as well.

Instead, you’ll only be able to appeal on one of two grounds: either if you have evidence of bias or discrimination against you or if you think your teacher meant to give you a higher grade but someone has made a mistake when putting your information into the system.

More like this: how to stop worrying about your results

stack of coursework

Appealing if you have evidence of bias or discrimination against you

If you think your school is biased against you, you’ve been discriminated against or that your school simply didn’t follow the proper procedure when calculating your grade, you will be able to appeal.

To start an appeal on these grounds, Ofqual recommends that in most cases you should speak to your school first – the exception to this would be if you have evidence of serious malpractice, in which case the relevant exam boards might be the best first port of call.

Once the appeal has begun, you’d have to show the exam board your evidence, and they would investigate. If the exam board ultimately agreed that the process hadn’t been followed properly, you may end up with a different result.

Ofqual says that it “expects such allegations to be rare, but this is an important safeguard for students and their overall confidence in this year’s grading arrangements.”

There should be more detail coming soon on how this process will work – Ofqual ran a consultation on the details of appealing calculated grades that closed on 14 July, but it hasn’t published its decisions yet. This article will be updated as soon as more information is available.

“We, and exam boards, are committed to helping students and their families understand how to access an appeal or make a complaint about bias, discrimination or another concern,” commented Ofqual’s chief regulator, Sally Collier.

“We will provide accessible information and have a helpline available to students and their parents or carers to talk about the appeals process and any other questions they may have about their results this summer.”

stack of homework on teacher's desk

Appealing if you think someone’s entered your grade into the system incorrectly

If there’s been a data entry mistake with your grade, your school will be able to appeal to the exam board on your behalf. As long as your school has proof of the mistake, your grade would then be corrected.

The Ofqual guidance gives three specific examples of scenarios that would be covered under the data being wrong. These are:

  • If your school has given the wrong grades and ranks to the exam board
  • If the exam board has used the wrong data set when standardising the grades
  • If the exam board has added an error into the data it was given by your school.

If your school thinks it submitted the grades incorrectly, it will need to show evidence of its mistake. This could include entering the wrong numbers or confusing students who have similar-sounding names with each other.

students in exam hall

You can also take the optional autumn exams

If you can’t appeal on either of those grounds but you’re still unhappy with your results, you’ll be able to take the optional autumn series of exams if you want to.

GCSE, AS-level and A-level exams will be offered for all subjects that should have run in the summer.

A-level and AS exams will start on Monday 5 October and finish on Friday 23 October, the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) has confirmed. GCSE exams will start on Monday 2 November and finish on Monday 23 November.

The exam dates for specific subjects are yet to be decided, but these will be posted on the websites of the exam boards.

The results dates have also not been announced for the autumn exams, but Ofqual has previously suggested that A-level results could be published before Christmas and GCSE results in February.

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