Coronavirus: Exams are cancelled – how will I get my grades?

This article was last updated on 21 April 2020.

On 3 April 2020, qualifications regulator Ofqual announced its plans for GCSE, AS and A-level grades in England in 2020. Since then, further details have also been given on grades allocation in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Feeling confused by it all? Check out our summary of the plans below.

Across all four nations, it's an unfolding situation, with updates coming through often. Be sure to check in on the websites below for the most up-to-date information.

England

How will my grade be decided?

Schools and colleges will be asked to send exam boards two bits of information for each of your subjects:

  • the grade they think you were most likely to have got in ordinary circumstances
  • the order of learners, by performance, within those grades at your school or college.

The ranking of learners is to help standardise judgements to try to make it as fair as possible across schools and colleges. So if, for example, the exam boards think a school or college has been too harsh with grades, they may move a few students who are at the top of the rankings up a grade.

What evidence will be considered?

Schools and colleges will consider things like classwork and homework, grades from assignments and mock exams, coursework and your general progress during the course.

Who will check the grades are fair?

Qualifications regulator, Ofqual, and exam boards will seek to standardise grades across schools and colleges to make it as fair as possible. This means the final grades you get could be different from the ones schools/colleges sent to the exam board. Schools and colleges aren't allowed to share information with you about the grades or rankings they submitted.

Will the work I'm being set now count towards my grade?

Grades will be based on work that has already been completed, rather than any work you're doing now.

When will I get my results?

Results will be issued on the original results day dates (13 August for AS and A-level; 20 August for GCSE).

Can I appeal if I'm not happy with my grades?

Under the circumstances, the normal arrangements for reviews of marking and appeals won't apply. Ofqual is currently considering what arrangements might be put in place to allow an effective appeal and will make further announcements. Keep an eye on the Ofqual website below for updates.

Can I sit exams later if I want to?

There will be news about the option to sit exams in the autumn coming soon. If you choose to sit exams in autumn 2020 or summer 2021, you'll be able to use the higher of the two grades for future progression. Check out the Ofqual website below for further updates.

Got more questions?

Read Ofqual’s letter to students for more detail. Visit the Ofqual website for the latest announcements.

Wales

How will my grade be decided?

Schools and colleges in Wales have been asked to submit:

  • the grade they believe you would have got in each subject if teaching, learning and exams had happened as planned
  • the order of learners, by performance, within those grades at your school or college.

What evidence will be considered?

They will draw on evidence like your classwork and homework, results in assignments and any mock exams, any non-exam assessments and your general progress during the course.

Who will check the grades are fair?

The WJEC and other exam boards will use the ranking information to try to make sure grades have been estimated fairly across different schools and colleges. This means that your final grade may be different from the one your teachers submitted for you. Schools and colleges aren't allowed to share information with you about the grades or rankings they submitted.

Will the work I'm being set now count towards my grade?

Grades will be based on work that has already been completed – any new work set won’t influence this summer’s results.

When will I get my results?

Results will be issued on the original results day dates (13 August for AS and A-level; 20 August for GCSE).

Can I appeal if I'm not happy with my grades?

Under the circumstances, the normal arrangements for reviews of marking and appeals won't apply. Qualifications Wales are considering what arrangements might be put in place to allow an effective appeal. More information will be made available to teachers, learners, parents and carers at the time final results are issued.

Can I sit exams later if I want to?

There are no plans for an additional exam series in autumn. Each year in November, there are already exams available in GCSE English Language, Mathematics, Mathematics-Numeracy and Welsh Language but other exams won't be available until summer 2021.

Where can I get updates?

Qualificiation Wales has a handy FAQ document, including information for Year 10 and Year 12 students and the key differences between this year's grading systems in England and Wales.

Keep up to date with the latest news on the Qualifications Wales website.

Scotland

How will my grade be decided?

Grades for National 5s, Highers and Advanced Highers will be decided using estimated grades and bands provided by teachers, drawing on a "holistic review" of your performance. Existing bands will be subdivided. Teachers will be asked to place their learners within these band categories and rank the order of their learners within each estimated grade. Schools and colleges must submit their estimates by 29 May.

What evidence will be considered?

Teachers have been asked to make grade estimates based on your "demonstrated and inferred attainment" in your subjects. In practice, this is likely to include similar sources to those being drawn on for grading in England and Wales – classwork and homework, grades from assignments and prelim exams, and your general progress during the course. Check in on the SQA (Scottish Qualifications Authority) website below for the latest updates.

Who will check the grades are fair?

The bands and ranking information provided by schools and colleges will be used by the SQA to adjust estimates where necessary, to ensure consistency both across the country and in comparison with previous years.

Will my coursework be marked?

Due to the advice on social distancing, coursework for National 5s, Highers and Advanced Highers will not be marked as it's not possible to do this safely. Some National 5 coursework had already been received. This coursework will not be returned to schools and colleges but the SQA hope that it may be used at a later stage, as part of an appeals service.

Will the work I'm being set now count towards my grade?

Schools and colleges aren't required to set additional mock or prelim exams or homework tasks to decide on your estimated grade. Any work you're doing now is more likely to be to help you keep on track for future years of study – it won't count towards your grade this summer.

When will I get my results?

The SQA is working to make sure you get your results no later than 4 August, as planned, in time to secure places in further or higher education. You are strongly encouraged to sign up to MySQA, the SQA's online and text service, as a direct way to receive your results.

Can I appeal if I'm not happy with my grades?

The SQA has mentioned a potential appeals process in reference to National 5 coursework being kept by assessment centres for possible use in any appeals. However, details haven't been given. Keep an eye on the SQA website below for more information as its announced.

Can I sit exams later if I want to?

There haven't been any announcements about options to sit exams later. Check in on the SQA website below for the latest updates.

Where can I get updates?

For the latest information as it unfolds, check out the SQA website.

Northern Ireland

If you were due to sit exams with AQA, Eduqas, OCR or Pearson, the Ofqual announcements above for England apply for those subjects. The vast majority of candidates in Northern Ireland take their qualifications with CCEA. For CCEA qualifications, the information below applies.

How will my grade be decided?

For every GCSE, AS and A-level subject, schools, colleges and other exam centres in Northern Ireland will be asked to submit:

  • a centre assessment grade for each student. This means the grade they think you’re most likely to have achieved for each subject if the school year and exams had gone ahead as planned
  • the rank order of students within each grade for each subject.

What evidence will be considered?

Grade estimates will be a “professional judgement” based on “evidence that is held within the centre (school/college)”. Specific details haven't been announced but, in practice, this is likely to include similar sources to those being drawn on for grading in England and Wales – classwork and homework, grades from assignments and mock exams, and your general progress during the course.

The CCEA (Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment) will be issuing guidance to schools and colleges on the arrangements for submitting this information.

Who will check the grades are fair?

The CCEA will review grade estimates submitted by centres and apply statistical standardisation to align the grade judgements across and within centres. The aim is to make sure that, as far as possible, no one is unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged this summer. As the CCEA is reviewing grades, your final grade may be different from the one your teachers submitted for you. Schools and colleges aren't allowed to share information with you about the grades or rankings they submitted.

Will the work I'm being set now count towards my grade?

For this year’s exam grades, there is nothing further for you to do as your teachers will have all the information they need to inform the grading process. Any teaching and learning which continues now is to help you prepare for the next academic year.

When will I get my results?

Results will be issued on the original results day dates (13 August for AS and A-level; 20 August for GCSE).

Can I appeal if I'm not happy with my grades?

The CCEA is considering potential arrangements for appeal if you’re not happy with your grades, but plans are yet to be confirmed or announced. Keep an eye on the CCEA website below for the latest information.

Can I sit exams later if I want to?

Yes, you’ll have chance to sit exams if you want to, by summer 2021 at the latest. It’s intended that the exam timetable will operate as normal 20/21 with a November series for GCSE Single and Double Award Science, a January series for GCSE Mathematics and English Language and the opportunity for re-entering for all other GCE and GCSE qualifications in summer 2021. If you choose to take exams later and get a higher grade than the grade you’re given in summer 2020, the higher grade will stand.

Where can I get updates?

The CCEA will continue to update the guidance as new information comes through. Keep an eye on the CCEA website for the latest announcements.

Vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs)

It is still an unfolding picture for vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs) but Ofqual provided further information over Easter. Their update applies to England and Wales – arrangements for Northern Ireland and Scotland have yet to be announced.

What is considered a “VTQ”?

VTQs include many BTEC Nationals, Cambridge Technicals and UAL Diplomas as well as general qualifications such as the International Baccalaureate, Cambridge Pre-U and qualifications included under the umbrella terms “Core Maths”. Functional Skills qualifications are also included.

How will I get my results?

As far as possible, the approach will be similar to GCSE, AS and A-level grading this year, with learners receiving a “calculated result” based on their progress so far. However, this may not be possible for all qualifications. OfQual has put together a handy guide to explain the approach to VTQ results.

Check the SQA and CCEA websites for more information as it’s announced for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Will I get a fair grade this summer?
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