GCSE pupils are finally receiving their results today, ending an anxious wait to discover how they fared in their exams this summer.
The number of exams awarded grade 7 or above – equivalent to an A – fell to just under 1.3m this year, down from 1.5m in 2022, due to the imposition of harsher grade boundaries to bring results back in line with pre-pandemic figures. Schools are predicting requests to appeal GCSE results to surge as a result.
Chris Zarraga, director of Schools North East, which represents 1,300 schools in the region, said he was expecting a jump in appeals following this week’s results.
“We’ve had lots of appeals over the past couple of years and we’re expecting another rise this year with a return to 2019 grading levels – we’ll get another increase in parental complaints,” he told i.
The number of GCSE appeals increased from 775 in 2019 to 1,090 in 2022, despite last year’s grade boundaries being slightly more generous than those seen in pre-pandemic years.
How do you appeal GCSE results?
Contact your school or college to challenge a GCSE result. They can request that the exam board reviews the marking of your exam entry.
If you are a private candidate you can contact the exam board directly, or contact the school or college that submitted your exam entry.
The exam board will check your work for marking mistakes. Your mark may change if they find any.
If your mark changes your overall grade may also change. Your new grade could be higher or lower than the original.
You may have to pay a fee if you ask for a review and your grade is not changed as a result. Check with your school or college before they contact the exam board.
Just 43 per cent of GCSE appeals last year were upheld, according to Government statistics.
How do GCSE grades work?
Ahead of the 2017 GCSEs, the Government changed the GCSE grading system from A* to G to a numerical system of 9 to 1 (9 being the top grade and 1 being the lowest).
As per the guide below, issued by the exams regulator Ofqual, the numerical system essentially boils down to the following:
- 9 = high A* grade
- 8 = lower A* or high A
- 7 = lower A grade
- 6 = high B grade
- 5 = lower B or high C
- 4 = lower C grade
- 3 = D or high E
- 2 = lower E or high F
- 1 = lower F or G
- U = U, remains the same
The numerical system means that, while a pass used to be a simple C grade, there are now two marks considered a “pass” for GCSE students.
Schools are judged by the proportion of its pupils that achieve a “standard” pass and above, which is denoted by a grade 4, though they are also held to account for the proportion of pupils that gain a “strong” pass or above, which is a grade 5.
How do grade boundaries work?
Grade boundaries are set after students have taken their exams and the assessments have been marked by independent examiners using published mark schemes.
The boundaries are set to ensure that there is consistency in grades from year to year. So for example, if a paper is easier than the previous year, the grade boundaries will be increased to take this into account. Ofqual has said it will raise grade boundaries this year compared to the past two years to bring results back in line with pre-pandemic grades.
Grade boundaries are published on the exam boards’ websites on GCSE results day, with AQA, OCR and Pearson Qualifications – which owns Edexcel – all releasing them at 8am on Thursday.
You will be able to access the relevant grade boundaries via the links below:
- AQA A-level grade boundaries can be found here
- OCR A-level grade boundaries can be found here
What are the rules for resitting GCSEs?
There is no obligation to resit any GCSEs that you have failed, with the exception of English and maths.
If you didn’t get a grade 4 or above in either of these subjects you will need to keep trying them until you turn 18.
The type of qualification you’ll be required to study is dependent on your grade:
- If you got a grade 3 and will be studying full-time (540+ hours) next year, you will need to resit the GCSE.
- If you got a grade 3 and will be studying part-time (150-539 hours), you can take a functional skills qualification instead of GCSE.
- If you got a grade 2 or below, you can take a functional skills qualification instead of GCSE.
- If you are going on to an apprenticeship, studying maths and English will be part of your programme.
When can you resit GCSEs?
You can resit GCSE English and maths in the autumn or winter, normally November or January. The availability of these exams will vary depending on which awarding body you’re sitting your exams with.
For all other subjects, you will need to take them next year during the usual exam period in May and June.
Where can you resit your GCSEs?
You can either resit your GCSEs at school or college, or you can study for your resit with an online GCSE course and resit the exam at a private centre. If you are resitting English or maths you must do so at school or college – you cannot do an online course.
If you enrol at a school or college – either your current one or somewhere new – you will have a timetable and attend classes with other GCSE students. Most schools and colleges will let you study your GCSEs alongside A-levels for other subjects.
Evening classes at colleges can also be an option. You will sit the exam alongside your fellow students.
If you choose to study privately you will need to arrange your exam yourself. ICS Learn advises: “About six months before you want to sit your exam, you should contact your local schools and colleges to see if they’ll allow you to sit the exam there as a private candidate.
“You should be aware that there’s a fee to sit the exam which you’ll pay directly to the exam centre. The exact cost of this will vary depending on which centre you chose.”
How much does it cost?
Students may be required to pay course fees and exam fees to retake their exams. Exams often cost over £100 each to retake. Colleges will often charge upwards of £1,000 per subject.
However, some learning centres provide the course for free if a person is over 16 and doesn’t have the required 4 grade in English or maths. Contact centres directly to discover if you could be eligible for free tuition, or how much course might cost.
Online services are typically significantly cheaper than enrolling at a college, but you do not get the benefit of in-person teaching.