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Clearing 2020 | How will exam results be awarded during COVID-19?

By Newcastle University

This blog has been produced by our marketing team to summarise information about calculated grades and entrance to higher education. Please note, the information it contains may be subject to change.

The COVID-19 pandemic may have forced schools and colleges to close and cancelled exams, but that doesn’t mean your plans and dreams to go to university aren’t still on track. The Government has promised to reward the hard work you've put in to achieve the grades you need, but what does that really mean for you?

Why were exams cancelled?

Because everyday life has been disrupted due to COVID-19, your exams were cancelled to avoid any uncertainty. This also meant schools could focus on supporting vulnerable students and the children of key workers.

After schools shut, both the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) – the UK government’s department that regulates qualifications, exams and tests – and the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), developed a system to calculate grades.

Ofqual has also been working with the Department for Education, awarding organisations and regulators in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, to develop an approach for students taking vocational and technical qualifications, such as BTEC Nationals.

Despite your exams being cancelled, priority has always been placed on ensuring all grades are fair and considered.


What will A Level and Scottish Highers grades be based on?

Both Ofqual and SQA believe teachers are best placed, and have the professional experience, to make fair, objective assessments of the grades they think you would have achieved in your cancelled exams.

Its these assessments – which will take into account previous non-exam assessments, homework assignments, mock exams and your overall hard work and performance – that examination boards will base your final calculated grades on.

You won’t be asked to sit additional mock exams or do further homework tasks to form part of your teachers’ assessments, and you won’t be disadvantaged if you couldn’t complete any work set after your school closed.

Teachers have also been asked to rank students in order of their expected achievement in each subject. This will feed into final grades and be used by examining boards to moderate results.


What about vocational qualifications?

Because of the complex number of vocational and technical qualifications, no single approach is being adopted.

Calculated results will be awarded, but these will draw on a range of evidence from teachers, trainers and training centres, depending on the structure of the qualification.


Will my grades be fair?

All grades will have the same status as qualifications awarded in other years and be treated in the same way by universities. Your results slips and certificates will also show grades in the same way as previous years.


Is there an appeals process?

If you’re unhappy with your grades there will be an appeals process, but the finer details on this are still being worked out.


Where can I find more information?

If you are taking A Levels, we recommend you read the information issued by the Department for Education. For Scottish students, further details are available from the SQA, and Ofqual has released guidance for vocational and technical qualifications.

We will also continue to update our online FAQs as more information is received. If you are still unsure about how your grades will be calculated, please contact your school or college for more details.

At Newcastle University, we’re committed to supporting you during these unsettling times. We understand you must be anxious about your exam results, and we’re 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 and we wish you lots of luck on Results Day.
If you're reconsidering your choice of university or course, or perhaps you're concerned you may not get the grades required for your firm or insurance choices, don't forget to take a look at the number of courses we still have available through Clearing


Tags: Apply, Clearing