A-level and GCSE results day – your options if you're not happy with your grades

by Anita Naik

With A-levels results coming on the 13 August and GCSE results on the 20 August, it's a nervous time for many parents and students, especially in light of the predicted grades. However, not being awarded the A-level or GCSE grades you want doesn't mean the end of your university and sixth form dreams. Here's what you need to know.

How will grades be awarded

While the idea is that students will be awarded grades they have been predicted to have achieved by their school; it's not that simple. Teachers have been asked to both predict the grade and rank students by prior attainment and by the level of confidence that teachers have that a student will get that result. From this exam, boards will standardise results.

If you are worried about how fair this process will be Ofqual has announced how it will standardise grading. The board will compare assessment grades for 2020 to historical data relating to previous grades awarded to your school's candidates, and grades will be adjusted accordingly.

This means within each subject; it will consider each school/college individually, using prior attainment to judge whether its assessment grades are more generous or severe than predicted and balance them accordingly.

What to do you don't get the grade you want

No one wants any student to be disadvantaged by the unprecedented circumstances. This means there are several steps you can take if you haven't achieved the grade you wanted/needed so you feel the process is fair.

1. Firstly you will have the right to ask for a calculated grade appeal. The usual arrangements for appeals will not apply so if you'd like to make a complaint/appeal, you can do so through your school. Each school has its own process, so speak to yours to find out the best way forward. Schools and colleges know a percentage of students won't be happy so they will be prepared for how you can appeal.

2. Secondly, if your grades are only slightly lower than expected, talk to the university or sixth form of your choice. The chances are they will be less stringent this year due to the circumstances. Most universities have already said they will do all they can to ensure that students who take this option can begin their course with a delayed start time. While it cannot be guaranteed in every circumstance, Universities UK has also provided additional reassurance saying universities will also have the power to be flexible in taking an applicants' context into account as part of the admissions process.

3. If you feel that your calculated grade doesn't accurately reflect your performance, you will also have the opportunity to sit an exam in autumn 2020 or the summer of 2021.

For any student who wants to take GCSE exams in November 2020, these exams will start on Monday 2 November and finish on Monday 23 November, which doesn't leave you a lot of time to revise. If you suspect you will take this option, ensure your revision starts from now to be fully prepared.

The deadline for entries for these exams will be 4 October for English Language and mathematics. For all other subjects, the deadline will be 18 September. If students then achieve a lower grade in their resit exam than their calculated grade, they will be able to use their best grade for future progression.

For more information on GCSEs, A-levels and revision check out our blog posts Your options post A-level results How to pass maths GCSE and Top maths GCSE resources for students How to improve on your mock results.