Exam Results in 2020: How Does It Work?

Education News, Tips for Students
Mary Lonsdale
Exam results 2020 - how does it work?

It’s been an unprecedented school year – capped off by an A-Level results day filled with turmoil. In such a strange time (when guidance seems to be changing almost daily), it’s important that students are aware of the various options that are available. Here’s a brief overview of what we know so far.

How were exam results calculated this year?

Because examinations were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, results this year have been based on teacher predictions that have been moderated by a ‘standardisation’ process. This process, designed by Ofqual, draws on ‘multiple evidence sources’ (such as the previous performance of the year’s students and the performance of the school/college in previous years) to determine whether the grades submitted by teachers were accurate.

However, some students have not received the A-Level results they expected – dropping a number of grades below their teachers’ predictions.

What are the current options for students?

This week, the government announced a number of options for students. Currently students are able to:

  • Sit exams in autumn 2020;
  • Appeal to receive a ‘mock’ result (if this is found to be valid) instead of their calculated grade;
  • Accept their calculated grade.

Schools can also appeal if they feel a students’ grades are not reflective of recent improvements (i.e. if the grades of previous cohorts are not representative of the school’s current standing due to changes made since). In addition, education secretary Gavin Williamson made a late announcement confirming that schools will be able to lodge appeals if a student’s mock exam result was better than their calculated grade.

The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) has since stated that it will not release more details regarding appeal process until next week – but has confirmed that it is ‘working urgently to operationalise this as fairly as possible and to determine what standards of evidence will be required for the appeal.’

What can I do if I’m unhappy with my grade?

If you are not satisfied with your results or if these fall short of your university offer (and you don’t want to go through clearing), don’t despair – there are other options to consider whilst you wait for news regarding the potential appeal procedures.

Prepare to sit exams in autumn. Due to the cancellation of summer exams, there will be a full raft of GCE, AS, A-Level and GCSE tests available for students in England (in all subjects) later in the year.

The schedule is as follows:

  • GCE AS and A-level examinations commence on Monday 5th October and finish on Friday 23rd October.
  • GCSE examinations commence on Monday 2nd November and finish on Monday 23rd November.

If you wish to sit your exams in the autumn series, you will need to confirm this with your school as soon as possible. We also recommend that you begin to revise without delay – there is less than two months until GCE AS and A-Level examinations begin.

For avoidance of doubt, the deadlines for entry are:

  • GCE AS & A-level: 4th September
  • GCSE (except English Language and Mathematics): 18th September
  • GCSE (English Language and Mathematics): 4th October.

Thinking of sitting exams in autumn but not sure where to start? Mentor Education are here to help. Our experienced tutors can help you put together a GCSE or A-Level revision plan, hone your skills, and build your confidence in the lead up to the tests – there’s still time, and a short course of online tutoring could make a huge difference. If you’d like to discuss your situation and plans, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Think about what you want. Perhaps things haven’t worked out quite as you envisaged. If that’s case, please don’t worry: there are plenty of opportunities available to you, and you don’t need to rush.

For example, if you’re not sure quite what to do next – take exams to try to approve your grades, appeal, take a different subject, apply for a different university – you might decide the best course of action is to take a year out. During your gap year, you could study abroad, or gain experience working overseas or in the UK: gaining experience in an area related to a future career, course of study, or challenging yourself in a vocational field can be a great way to boost your CV (and often appeals both to university admissions tutors and future employers).

However you’re feeling right now, changing tack is a big decision, so we advise caution. Speak to everyone and anyone you can before forming any conclusions: seek advice from a tutor, teacher, or advisor; discuss your prospects with a family member; have coffee with a friend and chat about how you’re feeling and what your plans might be. You’ve got plenty of time and lots of options to explore – see this period as an unexpected opportunity rather than a setback, and you’ll soon find your way!

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