How to appeal your teacher-assessed grades

paper being scored

With no exams this year, your grades will be assessed by your teachers. Here’s what can be done if you think they’ve got it wrong

GCSE and A-level exams have been cancelled and, instead, teachers will be deciding your final grades based on how you’ve got on with your course. They may consider a range of academic work, such as your classwork, mocks or additional assessments.

Find out more about how this year’s system will work and what teachers will base your grades on here.

For more detailed information on how everything will work you can also take a look at Ofqual's guide for students.

Every student has the right to appeal their grades, for free. Here’s how things work if you want to appeal.

Before your grades are submitted

Your teachers will have to collate evidence of your work and performance to support the grade that they award you. Before your grade is decided, they should make you aware of what evidence they’re using. 

You will have an opportunity to confirm that the work is your own and make your teacher aware of any mitigating circumstances that should be taken into account.

This is your first opportunity to raise any concerns directly with your teacher. For instance, you might feel that a particular piece of work is not a fair representation of your ability and have a good reason for that.

Once you’ve received your grades

Results day has been moved forward this year to allow more time for uni applicants to appeal their grades should they need to. A-level results will be published on Tuesday 10 August 2021 and appeals for students waiting on grades for their uni applications will be prioritised.

Once you have your results, if you want to appeal your grades, you need to speak to your school or college.

The first thing they’ll do is make sure that all of their processes were followed correctly and no errors were made. If they find an error, they can submit a revised grade to the exam board. Your school will not be assessing whether the teacher’s judgement of your grade was correct - they’ll be looking at any possible administrative errors. One example of this could be if your grade got mixed up with that of another student with a similar name to yours.

If you still want to appeal the grade you’ve been given, your school or college can submit a formal appeal to the exam board for you. It’s free of charge to make this appeal.

The exam board will check that your school or college followed its own processes and the exam board requirements. They’ll also review the evidence your teachers based your grade on and assess whether the grade awarded was a reasonable judgement of your work.

If they decide your grade was unreasonable, the exam board will determine the alternative grade and inform your school or college. 

Be aware that an appeal could result in your grade going up or down. 

The guidance on appeals also says that “appeals are not likely to lead to adjustments in grades where the original grade is a reasonable exercise of academic judgement supported by the evidence.”

If you want to take your appeal further

After following the appeals process, if you disagree with the exam board or your school or college, or if your school or college disagrees with the exam board, you could apply to have your case referred to Ofqual’s Exams Procedure Review Service (EPRS). The EPRS will investigate to see whether the exam board has made a procedural error. If the EPRS don’t find a procedural error then the exam board’s decision regarding your appeal will still stand.

Additional appeals information

The way in which appeals will be considered is still being finalised. The exam regulator Ofqual has published its suggested process - these suggestions were open for feedback until 5 May. 

Here are some of the key points from Ofqual’s proposal. Remember, this is not yet confirmed as the agreed process. 

You can read the full detail of Ofqual’s proposed appeals system here.

Ofqual’s proposed appeals system

  • Your school or college can’t stop you from making an appeal.
  • Your appeal needs to explain what went wrong and why it made a difference to your grade.
  • You don’t need to say whether you think this was accidental or deliberate.
  • Your appeal should explain the following (as appropriate):
    • What your school/college failed to do, how they failed to follow procedures and how that affected your grade.
    • If your school/college made an administrative error and how that affected your grade.
    • In what way there was an unreasonable academic judgement:
      • in the selection of evidence used.
      • in the grade decided based on that evidence.

If you’re unhappy with the evidence that was used to decide upon your grade, it doesn’t matter whether or not you raised this with your school/college before the grades were decided. 

The question will be whether the grade you were given was reasonable or not, and not whether an alternative grade would have also been reasonable. 

For example, if the evidence used could reasonably support you getting either an A or a B, and you get a B, this would not be considered unreasonable. This could be a sticking point for people who feel their grade was close to the boundary of a higher grade for instance. 

If your appeal isn’t successful

If you are unhappy with your grades, you have every right to appeal but it’s a good idea to do that with a back-up plan in mind in case things don’t go your way. 

You may find that you are still able to get into your preferred university course, despite not getting the grades you had expected. If that’s not the case, remember there are plenty of other options available to you.

Additionally, it’s expected that there will be a full series of exams taking place in the autumn. At the time of writing these have not been formally announced, but if they do take place you would be able to sit a full exam to hopefully improve upon your teacher-assessed grade.

This year’s grading system has been set up to be as fair as possible, and your teachers are at the heart of it. If you’ve got any concerns over the coming months, a good place to start is by talking to your teachers. They will be able to help you at every stage.

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