A-level results day is an exciting, if stressful, time for pupils and teachers across the country. While many will be celebrating the outcomes from yesterday’s results announcements, others may need to rethink their options.
Exams officers, teachers and school leaders are there to help those who haven’t got the results they had been expecting.
Each exam board takes a slightly different approach to the re-marking and appeals process, so we have collated all the latest information on how the system will work this year and how much it will cost, to make it easier for schools dealing with unexpected results .
1. How can I get copies of marked exam papers?
If a grade doesn’t look right and your school wants to check a pupil’s marked exam paper, you can get hold of them from the exam boards.
This is called “access to scripts”, and is often used by schools when weighing up whether or not to ask for a re-mark.
How you go about doing this and how much it costs depends on the exam board.
For Pearson/Edexcel exams, all electronically marked papers can be downloaded by schools for free. Teachers can request downloadable copies of their students’ answers and how the mark scheme was applied, through the exam board’s “free access to scripts services”.
The aim of this is to help teachers work with their students to understand how they performed in the exam, and whether a review of marking is an appropriate course of action. Students need to get in touch with their school to use the service.
For AQA and OCR, photocopies of marked A-level scripts have to be released when schools request them (or when a request is made by a “private candidate”, like those who are home educated), but they charge a fee.
Cases can be prioritised for students who have a pending university place, and these pupils should apply straight for a priority re-mark rather than waiting for a marked paper.
2. How do I report missing or incomplete exam results?
The exam boards have a slightly different approach to queries about missing or incomplete results.
Pearson/Edexcel said that while it is very rare for exam results to be missing, they encourage teachers to get in touch with their exams officers, who can contact the exam board.
There is also further support on the website for students, parents and teachers and each school should have an allocated personal account manager who works with the exams officer to resolve any queries about results.
3. How can I request an A-level exam re-mark?
The exam boards call these “enquiries about results”, and they can involve several different approaches, all with different fees. These fees are generally charged only if a review does not result in a change in mark.
Schools can request:
A clerical re-check. Not a re-mark, but a check on how the marking procedure has been applied to a particular paper. These can be requested from August 16, the deadline is September 20 and schools can expect a response within 10 calendar days.
A full re-mark. Referred-to as a “review of marking” by the exam boards, this is a clerical check and a review of all the marks given for a paper. The deadline is September 20 and responses are issued within 20 calendar days.
A priority re-mark. The same as a full re-mark, but carried out earlier and quicker. The deadline is August 23, and schools get their response within 15 calendar days.
A review of moderation. If a school isn’t happy with the moderation of internally assessed coursework marks, it can ask for a review. For the June 2018 exams requests must be received by September 20, and the deadline for completion is within 35 calendar days of the moderator receiving the original sample of work. The cost can vary significantly, depending on the exam board and how many pupils were included in the original sample sent to the board.
All students should be aware that a review can result in marks going down as well as up.
Pearson/Edexcel provides details about results services. The exam board told Schools Week it recommends that teachers have a look at the scripts with students using the free access to scripts service before requesting a review of marking.
If a review of marking is then requested it is sent electronically to the most senior markers and should only take a few days to resolve.
AQA told Schools Week that if a student feels their results are not right, they can request a review of marking through their school or college, which will advise on whether it’s the right thing for them. Further information is available here.
OCR said they have updated their service to make it simpler to view and track reviews of marking. Once a review is requested, schools can will be able to see all the student details, not just a reference number, and the outcome email notifications will include the student name and number in the email subject.
All review outcomes will include previous and new marks (not just grades) for the overall qualification and each component or paper.
4. How do I appeal an A-level mark?
If a school has been through the re-marking process and still isn’t happy with the result, it can appeal, with fees again varying between exam boards.
The appeal process has two stages: a preliminary process that involves an investigation of the case, and a hearing held by an independent appeals committee.
Schools must complete the preliminary appeal before progressing to the committee stage.
Requests for appeals must be sent to exam boards within 30 calendar days of receiving the outcome of a re-mark, and must clearly set out a school’s grounds for appeal.
The Joint Council for Qualification, which represents the exam boards, has published a guide to this process.
There are also other elements of the exams system that schools can appeal against.
For example, if a school has reported malpractice and is unhappy with a decision made about the report, it can appeal.
Appeals can also be made against decisions made in regards to access arrangements and special consideration, and against any sanctions imposed on them.