Summer 2021 Exams Appeals Guide and FAQ

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SarcAndSpark
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*Reminder* The deadline for non-priority appeals is 3rd September.

You should hear back from priority appeals by 8th September!

The process of awarding results this year was pretty complicated, and it’s very likely there will be some mistakes.

A system has been put in place to allow you to appeal your grade. The appeals system is a bit confusing (and different to normal), so this guide aims to help you navigate it!

If you appeal, it is important to remember your grade could go up as well as down.

If you are appealing to try to get a university place, you must inform the university ASAP and ask them to hold your place until 8th September.

You must appeal as a priority appeal, and include your UCAS ID with any priority appeal you submit!

This advice applies specifically to JCQ exams (AQA, OCR, Edexcel, WJEC etc). Some boards, like CAIE have their own process.

A basic outline of the appeals process

There are two types of appeals this year, priority appeals and non-priority.

Priority appeals are only for those who need the outcome of an appeal for their higher education place. Everyone else must do a non-priority appeal.

The appeal process has two steps.

The first step is an internal centre review. All appeals must go through this process, and if you are satisfied with your grade at the end of this process, you don’t need to go on to stage two.

The second step is an exam board appeal. This must be submitted by your centre on your behalf. The centre can’t refuse to submit an appeal- this would be considered malpractice. However, students and parents can’t submit appeals directly to exam boards.

You can withdraw from the appeals process at any time before a final grade has been determined. If you are unhappy with the final outcome of your appeal, you cannot withdraw after receiving an outcome.

You may be told that your appeal was upheld (e.g. a procedural error was made) but this has not affected your grade, and your grade will stay the same.



Grounds for appeal

You can appeal on four grounds:

  • 1) An administrative error by the centre.
  • 2) The centre has not followed its own procedures properly when arriving at your result.
  • 3) The academic judgement used to determine the selection of evidence used was flawed.
  • 4) The academic judgement used to determine your final grade was flawed.

Your exam centre should provide you with:
• The centre policy
• The sources of evidence used to determine your grade and the grades given for this evidence
• Details of variations in evidence based on disruption to teaching
• Details of special circumstances that were considered including access arrangements and mitigating circumstances.

You may need to submit a rationale for your appeal.

Appeals made on the grounds of a general procedural check or on the grounds that there has been an unreasonable exercise of academic judgement in the determination of the grade from the evidence do not require submission of an explanation.

Appeals on any other grounds do require a rationale from the student.

Rationales could include:

  • An explanation that the centre did not provide appropriate access arrangements.
  • An explanation that the centre did not take into account mitigating circumstances.
  • An explanation that the choice of evidence was not appropriate, with an explanation of your concerns.
  • An explanation of a perceived administrative error.


The rationale is important, as the exam board could reject an appeal if they think it is not within the remit of the appeals process.



Important Dates



Priority appeals:

16th August- the suggested deadline to request a centre review.

23rd August- the deadline for centres to submit appeals to the exam board.

8th September- Priority appeals submitted to exam boards by 23rd August should be processed by this date.



Non-priority appeals:

3rd September- The final day to request a centre review.

17th September- the deadline for centres to submit appeals to the exam board.

Exam boards will aim to process these appeals within 42 calendar days.
Last edited by SarcAndSpark; 3 weeks ago
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SarcAndSpark
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FAQ:

I am a private candidate, can I still submit a review?
Yes, the process is no different for private candidates.

Are there any downsides to appealing?
One- your grade could go down instead of up.

Two- whilst waiting on an appeal, which may not be successful, you might miss out on the chance to find a great place via clearing with the grades you do have. If you end up with the same results in early September, you may find yourself having to take a gap year, instead of being able to go to uni.

Is my school allowed to refuse to conduct a review/refuse to submit my appeal?
No, they must conduct a review and they must submit your appeal. If they don’t, this is considered malpractice for the exam board.

I am unhappy with the evidence/procedures my school has used. Do I have to wait until results day to appeal?
No. You can make an appeal without knowing your grade, and ask your school to review their procedures before knowing your grade.

I want to appeal my result as I have missed my firm offer, what should I do?
As a first step, contact your school for advice. They will be able to advise you as to the most successful route for your appeal, and let you know the process. You should then let your university know you are getting an appeal and ask them to hold your place until 8th September.

Your exam centre should provide you with:
• The centre policy
• The sources of evidence used to determine your grade and the grades given for this evidence
• Details of variations in evidence based on disruption to teaching
• Details of special circumstances that were considered including access arrangements and mitigating circumstances.
The centre will then conduct a review. If you disagree with the result of this review, you have the right to go to an exam board appeal.
You school will help you submit the appeal, but you may be asked to come up with a rationale for the appeal. If the rationale is not accepted by the exam board, your appeal will be rejected.

I have requested a priority review. Am I guaranteed a result by 8th September?
No. Due to the nature of appeals this year, it may be that an exam board will need additional evidence, or there may be another delay in determining your result. Therefore, it cannot be 100% guaranteed you will get your result by 8th September. If there is a delay, you should inform your university ASAP, but unfortunately, they do not have to hold your place.

You should try to start the appeals process as early as possible to avoid this!

What are the possible outcomes of an appeal?
Firstly, it will be decided if you have valid grounds for appeal, in which case your appeal will be upheld. If you don’t have valid grounds, your appeal will be rejected, and your grade will not change.

Secondly, a grade will be determined. It may be that although your appeal is valid, it’s decided your grade should stay the same. Alternatively, your grade could go up or down.

How is the outcome of the appeal decided?
If the exam board finds that there has been a procedural error, or suggests alternative evidence should have been used, they will report this to the centre and direct them to review the teacher assessed grade.

The centre will then submit a new grade to the exam board, based on the evidence or procedure they are told to use. The exam board will then review this grade and approve it.

If the exam board feel there has been an error in academic judgement, an independent reviewer will determine the alternative grade.

As a result of my exam board appeal, my grade has gone down. What should I do?

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do in this situation. The exam board’s decision is final. This is why it’s important to carefully consider all outcomes before submitting a review.

Can an appeal submitted by one student affect the results of others?

Yes. If a review or appeal finds a procedural error, it may be realised this error has impacted multiple students. The centre would therefore change the grades of other students, and inform them of the reason.

In some cases, an administrative or procedural error could have led to a student getting a grade which is higher than it should be. In these cases, schools and exam boards are allowed to lower grades without the consent of students. However, this will be considered on a case by case basis by schools. This is to ensure there is public confidence in the results.

I feel my grade is unfair, but my school have advised me I have no grounds for appeal. What should I do?

If you are certain you want to appeal, your school cannot refuse to review your grade or submit the appeal to the exam board.

However, you should bear in mind that if you appeal, and it is not upheld, you will have the same grades, and it may be too late to find a place via clearing. In this scenario, you'd need to be happy with potentially taking a gap year.
Last edited by SarcAndSpark; 1 month ago
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rryynn
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Thanks for this thread, it really broke the process down for me easily. Quick question, if the exam boards find that more evidence is needed will students have to sit more exams to supplement this?
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Vapordave
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(Original post by rryynn)
Thanks for this thread, it really broke the process down for me easily. Quick question, if the exam boards find that more evidence is needed will students have to sit more exams to supplement this?
They'll drop your grade AFAIK
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rryynn
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(Original post by Vapordave)
They'll drop your grade AFAIK
Drop your grade?? Wait what does that mean??
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Vapordave
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(Original post by rryynn)
Drop your grade?? Wait what does that mean??
Drop it down to a level the evidence can support. So, appealing is a bit of a gamble.
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rryynn
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(Original post by Vapordave)
Drop it down to a level the evidence can support. So, appealing is a bit of a gamble.
Ah okay that makes sense tbf!
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rryynn
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Also wondering what costs were associated with appealing a grade. Assuming it can get pricy, especially for a private candidate.
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Evil Homer
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it shouldnt cost any student to appeal this year, please dont allow cost to get in the way of your decision making!
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by rryynn)
Thanks for this thread, it really broke the process down for me easily. Quick question, if the exam boards find that more evidence is needed will students have to sit more exams to supplement this?
The appeals system doesn't really work in this way. If it's found that the academic judgement of your teachers was flawed in terms of the evidence they used, your teachers may be asked to provide other additional evidence.

If, for some reason, evidence can't be provided that meets the exam board's criteria, then you wouldn't be able to receive a grade for that exam, but this is very unlikely. There's no time/provision for you to e.g. sit an additional paper in school and have that marked by a teacher.

However, to be in this situation, you'd have to have literally done no assessed work, all year, as far as I can see.

If the exam board feel the available evidence supports a lower grade then your grade would be reduced, and you wouldn't be offered the chance to resit, or provide additional evidence, unfortunately.
(Original post by Vapordave)
They'll drop your grade AFAIK
I don't think it's quite as straightforward as that- it's likely they would ask teachers for different/additional evidence first.

(Original post by rryynn)
Also wondering what costs were associated with appealing a grade. Assuming it can get pricy, especially for a private candidate.
Hopefully none. Your exam board will give the exam centre £75 to help cover their costs, and exam boards are expected to suck up the costs as they haven't had to pay markers etc this year.
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StrawberryDreams
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Thanks so much for all this information SarcAndSpark - super helpful and hopefully useful to anyone thinking of an appeal today!
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by StrawberryDreams)
Thanks so much for all this information SarcAndSpark - super helpful and hopefully useful to anyone thinking of an appeal today!
Thank you!
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ineedhelpsohelp
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I want to appeal my grade but I'm not sure. For chemistry I have been getting As but they're not consistent (But I did get a lot throughout my first and second year). Moreover, the exams that were used to grade us were leaked and some questions were done by classes prior to the exam taking place. I'm not sure how to go about this without "bashing" on my college's approach to TAGs. Do you think it's even worth me trying to appeal for a higher grade?
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by ineedhelpsohelp)
I want to appeal my grade but I'm not sure. For chemistry I have been getting As but they're not consistent (But I did get a lot throughout my first and second year). Moreover, the exams that were used to grade us were leaked and some questions were done by classes prior to the exam taking place. I'm not sure how to go about this without "bashing" on my college's approach to TAGs. Do you think it's even worth me trying to appeal for a higher grade?
Talk to your college.

Do you know exactly which pieces of work were used in determining your final grade?

I would think if the exams were "leaked" then you could ask for a review of their procedures. I don't think your college will take offence to this, and you have nothing to lose by asking?

I'd ask for this information first:

Your exam centre should provide you with:
• The centre policy
• The sources of evidence used to determine your grade and the grades given for this evidence
• Details of variations in evidence based on disruption to teaching
• Details of special circumstances that were considered including access arrangements and mitigating circumstances.


If you don't already have it!
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ineedhelpsohelp
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(Original post by SarcAndSpark)
Talk to your college.

Do you know exactly which pieces of work were used in determining your final grade?

I would think if the exams were "leaked" then you could ask for a review of their procedures. I don't think your college will take offence to this, and you have nothing to lose by asking?

I'd ask for this information first:

Your exam centre should provide you with:
• The centre policy
• The sources of evidence used to determine your grade and the grades given for this evidence
• Details of variations in evidence based on disruption to teaching
• Details of special circumstances that were considered including access arrangements and mitigating circumstances.


If you don't already have it!
Yeah we had to sign a form that said only these 6 pieces of work would be used as evidence (6 pieces being the 6 exams we took after Easter). I'm just worried my grade will go down because it would fluctuate a lot but I don't think its fair to grade me work that my peers had answers to.
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by ineedhelpsohelp)
Yeah we had to sign a form that said only these 6 pieces of work would be used as evidence (6 pieces being the 6 exams we took after Easter). I'm just worried my grade will go down because it would fluctuate a lot but I don't think its fair to grade me work that my peers had answers to.
I agree that is unfair.

I would at least talk to your college. You can withdraw your appeal at any time before you get an outcome.

Are you willing to share the grades you got for those 6 pieces of work?
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ineedhelpsohelp
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(Original post by SarcAndSpark)
I agree that is unfair.

I would at least talk to your college. You can withdraw your appeal at any time before you get an outcome.

Are you willing to share the grades you got for those 6 pieces of work?
I haven't received any specific grades from those 6 pieces of work, just an overall grade of a B. It's upsetting because I know the ones I did the most horrible in are the ones that people had the answers to. I think I'm going to take today off and focus on myself and tomorrow I might look into appeals. I just don't really understand the whole process- its quite confusing.
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by ineedhelpsohelp)
I haven't received any specific grades from those 6 pieces of work, just an overall grade of a B. It's upsetting because I know the ones I did the most horrible in are the ones that people had the answers to. I think I'm going to take today off and focus on myself and tomorrow I might look into appeals. I just don't really understand the whole process- its quite confusing.
Honestly, if you want to appeal, I'd strongly suggest your speak to your school TODAY- tomorrow there may be no-one available and Thursday is GCSE results day, so people will be busy then.

Talk to your school ASAP- you can always change your mind later.

You can definitely ask them how the B grade was determined.

Does your uni place rely on this grade?
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ineedhelpsohelp
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(Original post by SarcAndSpark)
Honestly, if you want to appeal, I'd strongly suggest your speak to your school TODAY- tomorrow there may be no-one available and Thursday is GCSE results day, so people will be busy then.

Talk to your school ASAP- you can always change your mind later.

You can definitely ask them how the B grade was determined.

Does your uni place rely on this grade?
My firm uni relies on this grade. I've been rejected though. My school isn't a school its a college so they only do A Levels haha I just like calling it a school. How would I even go about wording a email to them? Who would I even email?
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by ineedhelpsohelp)
My firm uni relies on this grade. I've been rejected though. My school isn't a school its a college so they only do A Levels haha I just like calling it a school. How would I even go about wording a email to them? Who would I even email?
Right,

If your firm relies on this grade I think you should appeal and see what happens, but you do need to get the ball rolling.

Are you able to go into college or call? Otherwise email any enquiries/general email address and they will direct you to the right person.

I'd start off your email by saying something like:

"I have missed my offer by one grade, and I'd like to request a centre review. I'm aware some people saw parts of some papers before they were sat, and so I don't feel this was fair. Please could you advise me about the process?"

Then call UCL and say you are going to appeal your grade and ask them to hold your place.
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