Exam appeals rise again as new reforms rolled out to all GCSEs

The number of appeals against GCSE and A-level exam grades rose by 45 per cent last year as new grounds for an appeal were extended to all GCSE subjects.

Statistics published today by exams regulator Ofqual show there were 1,240 appeals in 2019, up from 857 in 2018.

A total of 675 of the appeals were upheld, up from 406 the previous year – an increase of 66 per cent.

The stats also show the number of grades changed ballooned by 152 per cent to 512. This rose at a higher rate than the proportion of grades challenged – which increased by 124 per cent.

The rise in appeals has been attributed to new rules being extended to all GCSEs last year.

The rules give schools a second chance to challenge results if they have concerns regarding marking errors. 

The change was initially introduced for A-levels in 2017 and applied to some GCSEs in 2018, before being rolled out fully last year.

The most common reason for appeals was a marking error. Overall, 3,159, or 0.05 per cent of all certified GCSE and A level grades were challenged.  

The number of GCSE appeals increased from 489 to 763 – an increase of 56 per cent.

And the number of appeals upheld increased by 63 per cent from 263 to 428, while the number of appeals which led to a grade change increased from 148 to 272 – 84 per cent.

The proportion of GCSE appeals upheld also increased, from 54 per cent to 56 per cent. 

Ofqual states “these increases are likely to be due to centres being able to appeal on the grounds of a marking error for all GCSE subjects in 2018/19”.

At AS/A level the number of appeals increased by 30 per cent to 477, while the number of appeals upheld likewise increased by 73 per cent- from 143 to 247.

The number of appeals which led to a grade change also increased from, 69 to 160 – 117 per cent. 

Ofqual attributes this rise to a “greater awareness that centres are able to appeal on the grounds of a marking error for all GCE subjects since 2016/17”.