Autumn resits will have ‘generosity’ of 2020 grades

Exams regulator Ofqual has today confirmed that pupils resitting qualifications this Autumn will be handed the same “generosity” in their grades as was awarded this summer.

Pupils who were unhappy with their grade this summer, or those not issued a grade, have been able to take exams in an Autumn series starting from late October.

Ofqual has today confirmed that grade boundaries will be lowered for these exams to ensure that pupils taking resits receive the same “generosity” as the summer cohort.

Results soared this year after the government U-turn to award pupils their centre assessed grade.

In a blog this morning, Ofqual said it was “working with exam boards to carry forward the generosity from summer 2020 grades”.

“We are also clear that students sitting exams this autumn must be treated as fairly as possible, alongside students from summer 2020,” Cath Jadhav, associate director of standards and comparability at Ofqual, said. “As such, examiners will be guided by proxy grade boundaries.

“Exam boards will generate these by looking at how far the 2019 grade boundaries for each specification would have to move to achieve the proportion of students at the key grades we saw for each of those specifications in summer 2020.

“Archive student work, as well as several other sources of evidence about where grade boundaries should be set, will also be considered.”

Normally, exam boards use statistical predictions to guide grades – as the overall performance of students is expected to be “largely stable” from one year to the next.

The Autumn exam series has just over 20,000 A-level entries, with similarly low number of entries expected for GCSEs.

Jadhav said this means the students entering for each subject are likely to be unrepresentative of those in summer, so statistics will “be of limited success”.

“Instead, exam boards will rely much more heavily on the judgement of their expert senior examiners looking at the quality of student work, as is always the case in very small awards,” she added.

Ofqual also warned that “many re-sitting students do not improve their grades”. Typically, 60 per cent of students resitting GCSE English and maths in the November exam series get the same grade, 30 per cent improve and 10 per cent get a lower grade.

In the latter case, a pupil’s grade from the summer will still stand.

However, Ofqual is still undecided about where it should peg grades for next year’s exams.

Jadhav added: “Before we take a decision on that, we will be talking to exam boards, government, school and college leaders, parents and students, and we will say more on this before the end of the year.”