The grade boundaries for A-levels set by exam boards OCR and Edexcel have been leaked online, a day before results are due to be released.
They show that for the Edexcel maths paper a score of just 14 per cent is needed to pass, with 55 per cent required for an A grade.
In 2017, all exam boards agreed they would only make the grade boundaries for GCSE and A-level exams available to exams officers in schools and colleges. Previously the information was published online 24 hours before results day, but this was changed over concerns about the impact on the mental health and stress of pupils who tried to predict their grades.
The documents are now only shared in advance with schools on a password protected website.
However, the boundaries for both OCR and Edexcel have been widely circulated on social media today.
The problem is that anxious students will pore over this information trying to work out what this means for their results
This is the second year running that grade boundaries set by Edexcel have been leaked online before results day.
One of the main talking points over the leaked boundaries by students on social media is that a lower mark has been set to pass A-level maths this year.
Pupils will now only need to score 43/300 (14.3 per cent) to pass the paper, compared to 70 (23.3 per cent) last year. The A grade boundary is set at 165 (55 per cent) – compared to 184 (61.3 per cent) last year – and an A* grade will require 217 marks (72.3 per cent), down from 229 (76.3 per cent) last year.
This year is the first time that all pupils studying A-level maths took the reformed qualification. Last year, the only pupils to sit the new exam were a small number of more able year 12 students who took the new qualification a year early – which could explain this year’s boundary changes.
In a blog post last year, Ofqual’s associate director of standards and comparability Cath Jadhav urged “caution” in interpreting results from the 2018 A-level cohort or using them to predict future grade boundaries, as the small number of very able pupils who sat the exam meant it was likely exam boards would not “get much feedback on how well the papers perform for less able students”.
Pearson, the education company that owns Edexcel, also confirmed last week that questions from an entire Edexcel A-level maths paper were circulated online ahead of the exam in June, and that it was withholding results from 78 pupils while it investigates.
A spokesperson for Pearson confirmed the leaked document was genuine and insisted the company’s systems “are working as they should”.
“Boards do ask schools not to share this widely to avoid unnecessary stress for students awaiting their results. Schools are trusted to treat the information confidentiality on behalf of their students and the vast majority do.”
A document containing OCR grade boundaries, seen by Schools Week, has also been published online.
A spokesperson for OCR said it chooses not to publish its grade boundaries until results day to “minimise the chance of students feeling anxious if they see grade boundaries without their results – which can lead some to jump to the wrong conclusion.
“We are very grateful to the vast majority of exams officers and teachers who support this staggered approach.”
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, urged students not to “lose any sleep” over the leaks, adding grade boundaries are set to account for differences in the difficulty of papers so students are not disadvantaged.
He added: “We are extremely disappointed if grade boundaries have been leaked ahead of results day.
“The problem is that anxious students will pore over this information trying to work out what this means for their results.”