What to do if you're unhappy with your GCSE, AS or A-level results?

Written by a member of the TSR community

The big moment has arrived and you've either fired up your email or have walked with your friends into the school or college hall. You open the pdf or envelope, and there you notice it: something isn't what you'd wanted or expected. One or two subjects has a grade lower than you thought was right. What's worse, you needed that better grade to secure your 6th Form place or that coveted university course. What do you do now?

The first thing to do is consult with your teachers - there'll be someone available at the centre on Results Day. Asked them if they think it's worth challenging your marks and grades. If you do decide to ask to take the matter up with the exam board, there are several options open to you. Unfortunately they will all cost a little money, unless your unit or subject grades are increased after being reviewed.

First of all, you can now ask to see your marked exam papers before deciding if you want a formal clerical check or a review of marking. Access to Scripts is either free of charge (Edexcel) or is available at a small fee. If your university place depends on a review of marking, however, it's best not to wait to see the script. You should instead ask for a priority review of marking.

There is no such thing as a remark anymore. Instead you may ask for a check that the original examiner properly applied the marking scheme when they marked your script. In subjects where there is an element of professional judgement in marking, e.g. history or English, the reviewer will not change the original mark unless they find that the original examiner made a clear error. A reasonable difference of opinion will not lead to a change of marks.

The most basic (and cheapest!) check you can ask the board to make is a clerical check of all the clerical procedures which lead to issuing a result. This can be as simple as checking that every question has been marked, that the marks have been counted properly, and have been recorded correctly on the exam board's system.

Usually, however, a candidate will ask for a review of marking (or a priority review if a university place is in jeopardy). This is a detailed check that the examiners have marked externally assessed components correctly. This includes a clerical check.

A candidate's permission must always be given before a centre asks for a clerical check or a review of marking. This is because marks (and grades!) can be altered downwards as well as upwards. A centre should also ask your permission before it accesses your scripts - it's your work after all!

Here are the costs of the various services offered by the exam boards for England, Wales and Northern Ireland:

AQA: Access to Scripts - (priority) £14.35, (otherwise) £11.30. Clerical check (per component or unit) (GCSE) £8.05, (AS/A-level) £16.10. Review of marking (per component or unit) (GCSE) £37.55, (AS/A-level) £43.45. Priority review of marking (per component or unit) (AS/A-level only) £51.75.

CCEA: These fees are somewhat lower than the other boards, but up-to-date information is not currently provided on the website.

Edexcel: Access to Scripts - free. Clerical check (per component or unit): £11.30. Review of marking (per component or unit) (GCSE) £40.40, (AS/A-level) £46.90. Priority review of marking (per component or unit) (GCSE) £46.40, (AS/A-level) £55.90.

OCR: Access to Scripts - £12.15. Clerical check (per component or unit): £17.45. Review of marking (per component or unit) £48.50. Priority review of marking (per component or unit) £59.80.

WJEC (CBAC and Eduqas specifications): Access to Scripts - £11.00. Clerical check (per component or unit): £11.00. Review of marking (per component or unit) (GCSE) £37.50, (AS/A-level) £43.00. Priority review of marking (per component or unit) (AS/A-level only) £49.50.

There are strict deadlines for applying for clerical checks and reviews of marking. Your centre must request these by 19 September (or 22 August for priority review of AS and A-level components and units). On average, priority reviews are dealt with in 6 days, and other reviews in 8 days.

Last year, around 5.5% of all GCSE results and 5.6% of all AS and A-level results in England were reviewed. 20.1% of GCSE grades and 21.0% of AS and A-level grades challenged were changed. The figures for Wales were significantly smaller.

Best wishes to you all when you open those pdfs and envelopes on the 15th and 22nd! I really hope you get the grades you are expecting.

 

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