Exam appeals on the rise as reforms continue to bed in

The number of appeals against GCSE and A-level exam grades rose by more than 40 per cent in 2018, the second year of a new appeals process.

There were 847 appeals in 2018, up from 597 in 2017. Of last year’s appeals, 400 were upheld, up from 260 the previous year.

The increase in 2018 was driven by a substantual rise in the number of appeals at GCSE, which went from 272 to 479. At the same time, the number of GCSE grade appeals that resulted in a grade change also rose from 92 to 144.

The number of A-level appeals rose from 325 to 368, but the number that changed a grade actually decreased from 171 to 56, meaning appeals against A-level grades were less likely to be successful last year.

New rules around appeals were introduced for A-levels in 2017 and some GCSE subjects in 2018. They gave schools a second chance to challenge results if they have concerns about marking errors. The changes will be extended to all GCSEs this year.

Ofqual said today that the introduction of the new system is “likely to have resulted in an increase in the number of appeals in 2017 and 2018”.

The most common GCSE grade to be challenged at appeal last year was a grade 3, just below the government’s threshold for a “standard pass”. The most common challenge at A-level was of a grade B.