How Will GCSEs, AS and A Level Grades Be Assessed?

Education News, Tips for Parents, Tips for Students
Mary Lonsdale
Boy studying for his 2021 grades

On 25th February 2021, the Secretary of State for Education confirmed that examinations will not go ahead for GCSEs, AS and A Levels this summer, due to the widespread disruption to schooling caused by COVID-19. Following a consultation in which 100,000 responses from teachers and school leaders (as well as students and parents) were analysed, it has been decided that grades will be ‘based on what students have been taught, not what they’ve missed’.

For more information on exactly how 2021 grades will be determined, based on the information released by Ofqual thus far, please read on.

How Will GCSEs, AS and A Levels Be Assessed?

Grades will be awarded according to the assessments of their teachers, using ‘a range of evidence’, including – but not limited to – essays, in-class tests, mock exams, and coursework.

To guard against grade inflation, exam boards will be issuing example answers and grade descriptors to help guide teachers. As these will be broadly comparable to performance standards from previous years, teachers should find it relatively easy to be judicious and homogenous with their assessments. The government has also stated that there will be a ‘rigorous quality assurance process’ and ‘meaningful checks in the system’ to ensure grades are fair and consistent.

In addition, students will be told what criteria and supporting materials are being used to assess them before grades are submitted. At this juncture, should students believe that there are mitigating circumstances which may affect their grade, they should make their teachers aware of any relevant information.

What are the Key Deadlines for 2021 Grades?

In terms of submissions, a date of Friday 18th July 2021 has been set. Teachers must submit their assessments to exam boards by this date.

Results days are a little earlier this year: 10th August 2021 for AS and A Level grades; and 12th August 2021 for GCSEs.

Is There An Appeals Process for 2021 Grades?

If students believe their grades are wrong, they are able to appeal. The appeals process is a two-step procedure.

First, the student should ask their school (i.e. exam centre) to check for any administrative errors which may affect their grade. If the school believes this to have been the case, they can submit a revised grade to the exam board for consideration (along with supporting evidence).

Second, if the exam centre does not find any evidence of administrative or procedural errors, the student can appeal directly to the exam board. If the student makes an appeal, their school/exam centre would need to provide evidence relating to their assessment and the basis on which they’ve submitted the relevant grade. The exam board will then review this.

It should be noted that only substantial differences in opinion will lead to a revised grade. In addition, grades can go up or down as the result of an appeal, so students must weigh the risks accordingly before proceeding.

If you’re unclear about any element of the process for 2021 grades, or would like some expert guidance to ensure you receive the best results, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our specialist tutors will devise a bespoke strategy to tackle any problem areas, working with you to guarantee you make the most of the crucial period between now and July. We look forward to hearing from you!

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