65,000 more exam grade appeals – but still below pre-Covid levels

Marking challenges move closer towards 2019 levels after exams returned to pre-virus standards

Marking challenges move closer towards 2019 levels after exams returned to pre-virus standards

14 Dec 2023, 12:53

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Appeals of GCSE and A-level exam grades have jumped by more than 65,000 over the last 12 months – but numbers still haven’t returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Government figures published this morning show more than 300,000 challenges were launched after marks were revealed over the summer, up from about 235,000 in 2022.

Last year was the second year of exams following their cancellation due to Covid in 2020 and 2021. They included some adaptations to recognise the disruption to education.

But pre-pandemic grading standards were mostly restored, bringing results back down to 2019 levels.

Grades challenges are on the up …

This has also brought the number of grades challenged closer to those seen before the outbreak of the virus.

In 2019, 343,905 appeals were launched, equating to about 6 per cent of all the marks awarded (6,069,140).

This year, 303,270 appeals (4.9 per cent) of the 6,171,265 marks awarded were challenged. This represented a 1 percentage point rise on 2022.

… but only small uptick in grade changes

Despite this, grade changes have remained steady. Four years ago, there were almost 70,000 marks were altered, equating to about 1.15 per cent of marks awarded.

Almost 54,000 marks (0.9 per cent) were changed in 2022, compared to 66,205 (1.07 per cent) this summer.

Today’s figures also show that at GCSE, there were 795 changes of two or more grades, which accounts for 1.5 per cent of all key stage 4 marking changes in 2023.

There were 55 changes of two or more grades at AS and A-level. This is the equivalent of 0.4 per cent of all AS and A-level alterations.

Most-challenged exam grades

Of the marks that were challenged in the latest set of exams, the highest was grade Bs at AS and A level (35.2 per cent), followed by grade 3 GCSEs (22.7 per cent) and grades 4 to 3 for GCSE combined science (16.1 per cent).

When compared to 2019, the percentage of grades challenged in 2023 fell in 26 of the 31 GCSE subjects. The percentage of grades changed this year also decreased in 19 courses and stayed the same in four.

At AS and A level, grade Bs were the most challenged mark (35.2 per cent). Meanwhile, grade 3s were the most appealed at GCSE (22.7 per cent).

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