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Getting to grips with grades

We understand that school closures have been particularly stressful for GCSE and A-level students, with changing – and often conflicting – guidance adding to this anxiety. With that in mind, we wanted to share the latest updates from two major exam bodies and reassure our families that no matter which process your school eventually implements, we are here to help. 

We are continually evaluating the advice from government, working with schools to respond to the changing guidance and are ready to support with a range of initiatives. 


GCSE and A-level students

Ofqual has asked schools in England to provide a centre assessment grade for each student. This should take into account the grade they believe the student would have achieved should they have sat the exam, as well as evidence from a variety of sources, including classwork, any previous exam results and non-exam assessments. Schools will not be allowed to share their decisions with anyone until final grades are issued in the summer, and students will not be able to appeal the grades submitted by their teachers.

Schools won’t need to set additional mock exams or assessments in order to determine the centre assessment grades, and they will be able to use work completed remotely since the schools closed – as long as they are confident it’s the student’s own work. 

As well as the centre assessment grade for each student, schools will need to rank pupils within each grade across each subject, to help the standardisation process across schools. Exam boards will be looking at a number of factors to standardise the judgements, including expected national grade distributions and previous results. This does mean that the centre assessment grades schools submit may differ from the final grades students receive.

Schools can appeal final grades on a student’s behalf in limited circumstances – for example if the wrong information was used to calculate a grade. If students are unable to appeal or remain unhappy with their result, they can sit their exams in the autumn or following summer, and they will be able to select their best grade. 

Year 10 students taking exams a year early may be awarded grades this summer, provided Ofqual believes not receiving a grade will impact their future progression.


Read the full guidance and additional consultation paper.


Cambridge International IGCSE, I A-level and Pre-U students

Cambridge International worked with Ofqual to develop its process, and is taking a very similar approach. Schools will provide predicted grades based on a range of assessed and non-assessed work – these do not have to be the same as forecast grades, and must be submitted separately. Schools are allowed to include work produced remotely since school closures, as long as they are confident it is the student’s own work. They will not be able to share the predicted grades with anyone until the final grades are issued. 

Once the predicted grades have been determined, schools will need to rank students within each grade, from the most likely to achieve that grade to the least. Cambridge International will use this information to perform their standardisation processes, which draw on global performance statistics as well as the historical performance of schools. As a result, the predicted grades and final grades given may differ.

If students are disappointed with their results, they will be able to sit exams in either November 2020 or June 2021.


Read the full guidance.


What happens next?

Neither Ofqual nor Cambridge International have confirmed timelines for this process yet, and with some areas still under review, there may be further changes to come. We will continue to update our blog and social channels as the situation evolves.

But in the meantime, with remote work continuing to count as evidence towards grades, it’s important to keep up momentum (and spirits!) for the remainder of the year. We’re committed to helping students stay on track with their education and enjoy a bright future – whatever new challenges these changes may bring. Please do get in touch if you have any questions or need further support.  

Please note this guidance is correct as of 22nd April.

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