Exam appeals plummet in wake of grading fiasco

The number of appeals against GCSE and A-level grades was 23% lower last year than in pre-pandemic 2019

The number of appeals against GCSE and A-level grades was 23% lower last year than in pre-pandemic 2019

Appeals against GCSE and A-level exam grades have plummeted below pre-Covid levels in the wake of the pandemic grading fiasco.

Ofqual announced today that 2,460 grades were challenged last year, equating to 0.04 per cent of the 6.1 million certificates issued. This is 23 per cent lower than in 2018-19, the last year to use normal grading and appeals systems.

Exams were cancelled in both 2020 and 2021 because of Covid, with teacher assessed grades awarded instead.

This prompted a sharp increase in the proportion of top grades, as well as huge upset in 2020 when moderation had to be abandoned after widespread downgrading.

Pupils sat GCSEs and A-levels in-person last year, but grading was deliberately pegged between 2021 and pre-pandemic levels in recognition of continued Covid disruption.

Today’s data suggests more pupils were satisfied with their grades last year than in pre-pandemic 2019.

The number of GCSE grades challenged fell by 13 per cent, while the number of AS and A-level grades challenged plummeted by 45 per cent.

Higher proportion of appeals upheld

However, the proportion of appeals upheld and grades changed as a result increased.

Between 2019 and 2022, the proportion of GCSE appeals that were upheld rose from 56 to 58 per cent, while the proportion of upheld appeals prompting a grade change rose from 63 to 74 per cent.

At A-level, the proportion of appeals upheld increased from 52 to 54 per cent, while the proportion of upheld appeals resulting in a grade change increased from 61 to 71 per cent.

At GCSE level, 50 per cent of grade changes resulted in a change of one grade, while 8 per cent resulted in a grade change of two and 5 per cent in a change of three or more. Five per cent resulted in a change three or more, while 38 per cent prompted no change.

This differs to 2019, when 69 per cent led to no grade change at all.

At A-level, 48 per cent of changes prompted a change of one grade, 7 per cent a change of two grades and 44 per cent in no change at all. Fewer than five prompted a change of three or more.

Today’s data also showed exam boards struggled to meet targets for the completion of exam appeal hearings. Just 34 per cent of GCSE appeal hearings were completed within target timescales.

The figure was 70 per cent for AS and A-levels. However, this related only to a few dozen appeal hearings for each as the number held overall each year is low.

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