How have my exam results been decided this year?

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Hundreds of thousands of 18-year-olds in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have received their A-level and vocational qualification results.

This year’s results are very different, because coronavirus meant that students did not sit exams, and it’s all about predictions.

When will I get my results?

Results come out at different times throughout the summer.

  • 6 July – International Baccalaureate results
  • 4 August – Scotland’s National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher results
  • 13 August (08:00 BST) England, Wales and Northern Ireland’s A-level and AS-level results and A-level equivalent technical qualifications like BTECs and Cambridge Technicals
  • 20 August – GCSE results in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and GCSE equivalent technical qualifications
Image copyright PA

How have the results been decided?

The methods of deciding the results are broadly similar across all four nations and for qualifications including A-levels, GCSE’s, Scottish Nationals and Highers.

Schools and colleges were asked to predict the grades pupils would have achieved in each subject if they had sat the exams.

These predictions were sent to the exam boards along with the order of who teachers thought would do best.

The exam boards put together the information, taking into account data for previous years, to make adjustments.

The aim was to make sure the final results were fair and consistent and in line with results from previous years.

England’s regulator Ofqual said the idea was to ensure confidence in the results, to give them the same value as grades from any other year.

Vocational and technical qualifications come in many shapes and sizes and some of the awarding bodies lack the wealth of data available to major exam boards.

However, the majority of vocational and technical students will receive grades calculated in a similar way to A-levels, with awarding bodies carrying out quality assurance in line with national regulations.

Students are not allowed to know the grade their school or college predicted for them until results day.

However, once they have their final results, students can ask for this information.

Can I appeal against my exam results?

The Department for Education has announced a “triple lock” – so results will be the highest out of the grade students received from the exam board on results day in August, a mock exam and an optional written exam in the autumn.

The change means that if pupils’ results day grades are lower than their mock exams they can appeal – but this will have to be through their school, with the terms for approving appeals to be decided by Ofqual.

You must ask your school or college to enter you if you want to take an exam, and take all the papers in your chosen subjects.

If you achieve a different grade, you can use whichever is highest when applying for university or jobs.

In Scotland, teachers’ predicted grades will now be used after anger that the adjusted grades unfairly hit disadvantaged students.

In Wales, the final A-Level results will be no lower than grades earned at AS-Levels, which are done in Year 12 and count towards 40% of the final grade. They do not count towards final grades in England.

In Northern Ireland, the system is similar to England, with grades based on teacher predictions and adjusted by their exams board.

Amid uncertainty about grades in England, universities have been urged to be as “flexible as possible” and keep places open for students if they need to appeal.

Students who are unhappy with their grades are advised to speak first to their school or college.

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Media caption‘Exam results don’t define you – you do’

How will Ucas schemes work this year?

The good news for this year’s university applicants is that there are fewer 18-year-olds than in some years.

This means it could be easier to secure a university place that you want. Last year 70,000 students got places through the university admission service Ucas’s clearing system.

The advice is not to rush into anything. Discuss what you’re being offered with your school or college and don’t be afraid to question university admissions teams.

If you have better grades than you expected, look at Ucas’s adjustment scheme to see if you can trade up to courses or universities that suit your career plans best.

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