Ofqual publishes criteria for ‘valid’ mock exam appeals

Mock exams must meet eight separate criteria to be classed as ‘valid’ and used to appeal downgraded pupils’ results – but graded non-exam assessments can also be used, Ofqual has confirmed.

Successful appeals will see pupils awarded their mock grade, unless it is higher than the centre-assessed grade. In such cases, pupils will be awarded their teacher grade as mocks “do not normally cover the full range of content”.

Ofqual has revealed the criteria that mock exam grades must meet for schools to be able to use them as part of an appeal (see full list below).

It includes mocks that were taken under timed conditions, were supervised and marked using a marking scheme provided by an exam board. All the criteria must be met.

However schools will be allowed to use marked non-examination assessments as part of the mock exam appeal route. Ofqual said this appeal route was available to a “wide range of students, including those who had not taken a written mock exam before schools and colleges closed”.

Exam boards will be “ready to process” appeals from Monday. The appeal route is open to any student whose mock grade is higher than their calculated grade.

Because of the grade protection in place for students this summer no grades will go down as a result of an appeal, Ofqual added.

The route applies to GCSE, AS, A level, Extended Project Qualification and Advanced Extension Award in maths.

Centres will need to complete and send to the exam board a “simple form” to confirm each of the criteria has been met, provide the mock exam grade and a signed declaration from the head of centre.

However heads have said the announcement of a CAG cap goes against the promise made by education secretary Gavin Williamson. He pledged students would be able to appeal to receive a valid mock grade, just days before results following outrage over the grading system in Scotland.

But the Department for Education seemed to push the blame for this onto Ofqual. A spokesperson said: “In its role as regulator, however, Ofqual has determined that in the rare circumstances where the centre-assessed grade is lower than the mock, it would be more appropriate for the student to instead receive the centre-assessed grade.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, added: “This is clearly a face-saving exercise by a government which has said that it won’t do a U-turn on its pledge that moderated grades will stand come what may.

“Instead, it is attempting to remedy the grading fiasco through an appeals process so surreal and bureaucratic that it would be better off at this point doing that U-turn and allowing original teacher-assessed grades, where they are higher, to replace moderated grades.”


Criteria Requirement
1. Assessment conditions Supervised, unseen and undertaken in conditions that were intended to secure that work was the student’s own.

These include:
– appropriate invigilation
– no access to materials or resources that would not be permitted in exams
– no possibility of corrections or revisions

Non examination assessment, where applicable, must have been undertaken in the conditions required by the exam board.

For private candidates only, mocks undertaken with a private tutor may be used where they were validated by the relevant centre as part of the student’s centre assessment grade submission.

2. Form of assessment  

Either past assessment(s) produced by the relevant exam board OR assessments developed by teachers to align to exam past assessments e.g. in the curriculum sampled and style of questions.

Marked non examination assessment can be used instead or in addition to mock examination results.

3. Specification coverage  

Substantial coverage of the content normally assessed, for example assessment equivalent to one paper or one non examination assessment task.

4. Duration of assessment  

Taken under timed conditions that align to those in the normal assessment (with suitable adjustments for those students eligible for extra time).

5. Assessment window  

Completed within the programme of study, by 20 March 2020 (when schools and colleges were mainly closed).

For private candidates only, mocks undertaken later than this date to provide evidence for the centre assessment grade may be used.

6. Marking  

Marked using a mark scheme provided by the relevant exam board, or aligned with the exam board’s mark schemes.

Marked no later than the date of centre assessment grade submission.

7. Final grade  

Was graded in line with the exam board’s examination standard – for example, where a single past paper has been used applying exam board grade boundaries.

8. Evidence  

The following evidence is available for the whole subject cohort if required for inspection:

– evidence of the mark given and that marking was carried out by the deadline
– the paper and the mark scheme

Student scripts do not need to have been retained.

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