GCSE and A-level grades: How will they be calculated during the Coronavirus pandemic

GCSE and A-level Exams cancelled due to coronavirus, COVID-19 virus spread outbreak

Students and parents across the country are anxious about the effect the coronavirus pandemic could have on GCSE and A-Level grades. To address your concerns, here is a breakdown of everything we know so far, from calculated grades to autumn assessments. 

Will the public GCSE and A-level exams go ahead this summer? 

No. The government announced on 18 March that this year’s GCSE and A-level exams have been cancelled because of coronavirus.  This also includes the cancellation of iGCSEs and the International Baccalaureate. 

How will students be assessed? 

In place of country-wide assessments, teachers will calculate grades for all their GCSE and A-Level students. Your child’s grades will reflect the results teachers believe they would have achieved if lessons, revision and exams had gone ahead as planned. 

Schools and colleges will consider a range of things when calculating GCSE and A-level grades, including classwork and homework; results in assignments and any mock exams; any non-exam assessment or coursework; and general progress during the course. 

Schools are not required to set any additional mock exams or homework before submitting the grades to the relevant exam boards. On top of this, the government has said students won’t be disadvantaged if they were not set, or were unable to complete, any work given out after schools were closed on 20 March. 

How will exam boards ensure the process is fair?

To make sure that grades are fair across different schools and colleges, exam boards will put all assessment grades through a process of standardisation using a model developed with Ofqual (The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation), the government’s independent qualifications regulator. This should mean that students are not advantaged or disadvantaged because their teachers are more generous or harsh than others. 

How will GCSE and A-level grades be standardised? 

As well as submitting grades, schools will be asked to rank each student relative to others in the class who fall in the same grade category. For example, if they judge that five students would have been most likely to achieve a grade B at A-level, they should rank those five students from 1 (the most secure/most likely to achieve the grade) to 5 (the least secure/least likely).This information will be used to standardise judgements. 

The standardisation process might mean that the final grade a student gets is different from the one their school or college sends to the exam board.

When will GCSE and A-level results be published?

The government says GCSE and A-level grades will be published on Results Day as normal –13 August for A-Levels and 20 August for GCSEs – if not before. They want students to have as much time as possible before the start of the next school/university year to decide their next steps. 

Can students see their calculated grades before they are submitted? 

No, this information will be confidential. 

What happens if students are unhappy with their grades? 

The government has said students who are unhappy with the grades they have been given will have a chance to sit their exams before Christmas – ideally in the autumn. More guidance around this is expected soon, and much depends on the approach of individual exam boards. 

For further information and reading

Ofqual consultation on awarding vocational and technical qualifications in summer 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19): cancellation of GCSEs, AS and A-levels in 2020 – GOV.UK