Tips & Tricks blog
2020 EXAMS ARE CANCELLED. HOW WILL I RECEIVE A GRADE?
Since the government canceled all GCSE, iGCSE, and A-Level exams on 19th March due to COVID-19; they said the grade you receive will be determined by:
- Non-exam assessment (Homework and past paper marks)
- Mock exam results
- Prior attainment (SATS or GCSE results)
- Teacher assessment (Finger in the air)
Clearly, they will be using your past performance to calculate your final grades. So, if you planned to turn up the gears closer to exams after taking it easy over the past few months, this might sound like really bad news. However, based on comments made by several experts, you may have some control over your final grades.
How will my grades be calculated?
Ofqual, the exam regulator, is developing a new algorithm to calculate your grades using the factors 1-4 listed above. No one knows for sure what this algorithm looks like, but it may use predictive models like the one created by John F Bell…
Bell claims that you can predict A-level grades with a reasonable degree of accuracy by taking the sum of the square root of your top 5 GCSE grades. Other models that predict GCSE grades may also exist.
Algorithms, mock exam results, square roots…is any of this really important? Not really. Firstly, because you can’t control any of it so there is no point worrying, but also because your teachers also have a say in your final grade.
Which begs the question, who has the most influence over your future? Algorithms or teachers?
How much influence does my teacher have?
In the past, exam boards and regulators don’t really tamper much with the grades that are submitted to them. Even if someone dies in your family before an exam, the maximum amount an exam board will increase your mark by is 5%. Picked up the flu on the day of the exam? You’re looking at an extra 2%. Not much right?
These adjustments are called “moderated teacher assessments”, and the DofE in their recent statement said they will use this approach for 2020 GCSE & A-Level results.
It shows that they will be relying mostly on your teacher’s judgment, and not on their fancy algorithms.
This means you should focus on persuading your teachers to give you the best possible grades.
What if I don't get the grades I want?
You will be able to appeal an exam board’s decision if you feel the grades you receive aren’t fair. There will also be an opportunity to sit an exam after your school or 6th form reopens.
We anticipate that many students and parents will use this appeals process and will be conducting continuous research over the next few months in this area.
You’ll get your GCSE or A-Level results by the end of July 2020. The Department of Education has said that it would be unfair for these grades to be your final grades- they will only be provisional, and other factors will be taken into consideration for a final grade further down the line, so don’t worry. You will also be able to appeal the grade and sit an exam after our school reopens in summer 2021 if necessary! Most Universities have guaranteed that they will be flexible with entry requirements and the 2021 cohort won’t be penalised for things outside of their power, like a global pandemic!
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How does the examination board determine your final grade from predicted grades provided by your school?
On the 15th of January 2021, the UK Government published documents from the consultation they held regarding how GCSE, AS and A Level grades should be awarded in the Summer of 2021 after the cancellation of these exams for a second year in a row.
In short, they stated that the Department of Education in collaboration with Ofqual decided that in place of the examinations, a student’s grade “in a subject will be based on their teacher’s assessment of the standard at which they are performing.”
But how do the exam boards fit into this? The Department of Education stated that their role is to “verify that schools are complying with the published guidance, prior to the awarding of the grades”. Hereby providing a similar ‘external quality assurance’ that you would have received if you would have sat the exams for all tests and mock examinations you sit at school.
Exam boards will also be tasked with sampling, at subject level, the evidence on which the submitted grades were based, making sure that there is evidence to support that your previous work has shown you are performing at that level. In the case that a school has seemingly not provided enough evidence to prove such grades across an entire subject, an investigation will be opened and your grade could change.
So, although your teacher’s predicted grade is what may very likely be the grade you receive in August as your final, your teacher needs to show evidence to support this and the exam board are still able to change it depending on the sampling of everyone else in that subject as they do with any other exam-sitting year.