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How will my exam grades be awarded in 2021?

How will my exam grades be awarded in 2021?

by Newcastle University


This blog has been produced by our marketing team to summarise information about how grades will be calculated in 2021. Please note, the information it contains may be subject to change.

After exams were cancelled due to Covid-19, exams watchdog Ofqual has confirmed that A Level grades in 2021 will be decided by teachers. Read on to find out what this means for you, as well as how grades will be awarded in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Why is my teacher assessing my A Level grades?

In January, the UK government carried out a joint consultation with Ofqual on how grades should be awarded. Over 100,000 school leaders, teachers, parents, students and other education stakeholders responded.

Following this process, it was agreed that teachers should assess your grades. They know you best and have the professional experience to make fair, objective assessments of your progress and abilities.

How will my A Level grades be assessed?

In a statement to the House of Commons, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, confirmed that all A Level students will be assessed on ‘what they have been taught, not what they have missed’.

That means your teachers will base your grades on the work that you’ve been doing, including homework, any mock exam results, or in-class tests.

Unlike last year, no algorithm will be used to calculate your results.

Will I have to sit exams?

To help teachers decide your grades, exam boards will be providing schools with support materials, including exam questions and mark schemes.

These are NOT compulsory and it will be up to your school whether you sit these tests.

How can I be sure my grades will be fair?

Exam boards will be providing advice and materials for teachers to use, if they wish, when making their grade assessments.

Schools will carry out their own, internal quality checks to make sure grades are fair and consistent, and exam boards will also provide an external check on grades, as well as carrying out more detailed spot checks on a random sample of schools before grades are published.

When will I get my A Level results?

A Level Results Day will be on Tuesday August 10 – slightly earlier than in previous years in case more appeals against grades are submitted. This will give more time for grades to be reviewed ahead of university admissions deadlines.

What can I do if I think my A Level grades are wrong?

If you’re unhappy with your grade, or think there might have been a mistake in how it was assessed, you’ll be able to ask your school or college to check if there's been an error. 

If your school or college does find an error, it can submit a revised grade for the exam board to consider; if it doesn't, you can ask them to submit an appeal on your behalf to the exam board.

I’m taking a vocational exam, how will that be graded?

Teachers' grades will also be used to replace written vocational exams. However, if practical, hands-on skills need to be tested, these exams will take place in a Covid-safe way.

When will I get results for my vocational exams?

It’s hoped that you’ll get the results for the vocational or technical qualifications you need to move on to higher education around the same time as A Level Results Day.

What will the process be in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, final exams will also be replaced by teacher-assessed grades.

In Scotland, teachers will base grades on a range of evidence, from mock exams to class tests, classwork and coursework.

A three-stage process will check whether grades are fair: teachers in the same school will check each other’s work; where appropriate the local authority may sample work; and representatives of the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) will carry out spot checks.

Schools must submit all grades to the SQA by Friday 25 June, and students will receive their results on Tuesday 10 August.

In Wales, grades awarded by teachers will reflect students’ knowledge and understanding. Again, these grades will be based on a range of evidence, including assessments completed during a course and coursework.

Schools and colleges will decide whether they want to use assessment materials – including past papers – provided by Wales’ largest examining body, WJEC, to help decide grades.

Students will receive their results on Tuesday 10 August. Any appeals against grades will be dealt with by the school but, if necessary, can be referred to WJEC.

And in Northern Ireland, schools can also use resources – including past exam papers – provided by the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment (CCEA) to assess grades.

The tests are not exams and won’t be treated as such, and it’s up to schools whether they use them.

There’ll be five stages to awarding grades:

  • the CCEA will provide training and support about this year’s process to schools and colleges
  • teachers will make their assessments and carry out internal checks to ensure grades are fair and reasonable
  • centre determined grades will be submitted to the CCEA towards the end of May for review
  • students will receive their grades on Tuesday 10 August and there’ll be the option to appeal to their school or college, or CCEA.

Will my grades be considered in the same way as previous years?

Yes, they will. At Newcastle University, we’re committed to working hard to create a fair and transparent admissions process for all offer holders and applicants.

We will consider your grades in the same way as any qualifications from previous years.

Where can I get more advice?

We know these are unsettling times, but we're here to help every step of the way. There's lots of advice available through the How to Apply pages of our website. And if you’re worrying about going to university, or even reconsidering your decision, you can find out more about your learning and teaching experience with us on our Covid-19 study page.