How will I get my A-level, GCSE or BTEC exam results this year?

Pupils receiving exam results Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Pupils will not be together to receive their exam results this year because of coronavirus restrictions

Hundreds of thousands of 18-year-olds in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive their A-level and vocational qualification results on Thursday.

This year’s results are very different, because coronavirus meant that students did not sit exams, and it’s all about predictions.

When will I get my results?

Results come out at different times throughout the summer.

  • 6 July – International Baccalaureate results
  • 4 August – Scotland’s National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher results
  • 13 August (08:00 BST) England, Wales and Northern Ireland’s A-level and AS-level results and A-level equivalent technical qualifications like BTECs and Cambridge Technicals
  • 20 August – GCSE results in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and GCSE equivalent technical qualifications

How do I get my results?

Schools have been agonising for weeks over the best way to give students their results.

All pupils have been told what to do on Thursday, but you should check if you are unsure. You will either go into school from 08:00 BST, receive an email or log into an online portal.

Image copyright PA

How have the results been decided?

The methods of deciding the results are broadly similar across all four nations and for qualifications including A-levels, GCSE’s, Scottish Nationals and Highers.

Schools and colleges were asked to predict the grades pupils would have achieved in each subject if they had sat the exams.

These predictions were sent to the exam boards along with the order of who they think will do best.

The exam boards put together the information, taking into account data for previous years, to make adjustments to the predictions.

The aim was to make sure the results were fair and consistent and in line with results from previous years.

England’s regulator Ofqual said the idea was to ensure confidence in the results, to give them the same value as grades from any other year.

Vocational and technical qualifications come in many shapes and sizes and some of the awarding bodies lack the wealth of data available to major exam boards.

However, the majority of vocational and technical students will receive grades calculated in a similar way to A-levels, with awarding bodies carrying out quality assurance in line with national regulations.

Students are not allowed to know the grade their school or college predicted for them until results day.

However, once they have their final results, students can ask for this information.

Can I appeal against my exam results?

Usually, if your results are not what you expected, there are clearly set-out appeal systems.

This year, it’s different.

In England, a school can appeal if it can show that this year’s results do not reflect its recent improvements.

But your right to challenge your own grades will be limited to bias or technical error.

In Scotland, thousands of students were disappointed after their grades failed to meet expectations. Disadvantaged students appear to have been most likely to have teachers’ estimates downgraded.

Amid uncertainty about grades in England, universities have been urged to be as “flexible as possible” and keep places open for students if they need to appeal.

Students who are unhappy with their grades are advised to speak first to their school or college.

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Media caption‘Exam results don’t define you – you do’

Can I sit the exams if I don’t like my results?

The rules in England mean you cannot appeal against your grade if you think you could have done better by sitting your exams.

However, actually sitting them is an option this autumn or next summer.

If you want to sit your exams, you must ask to your school or college to enter you. You will need to take all the exam papers in your chosen subjects.

If you achieve a different grade in the exams, you will be able to use whichever is higher when applying for university or jobs.

These results will be based on exam performance alone – there will be no non-exam assessment, and results from previous non-exam assessments will not count.

In subjects like art and design, grades will be based on a new task, set and marked by the exam board, under the normal supervised conditions.

Only students whose summer 2020 A-level exams were cancelled can sit exams this autumn.

But for many technical and vocational exams there are several assessment dates throughout the year, so resits are likely to be less of a problem .

How will Ucas schemes work this year?

The good news for this year’s university applicants is that there fewer 18-year-olds than in some years.

This means it could be easier to secure a university place that you want. Last year 70,000 students got places through the university admission service Ucas’s clearing system.

The advice is not to rush into anything. Discuss what you’re being offered with your school or college and don’t be afraid to question university admissions teams.

If you have better grades than you expected, look at Ucas’s adjustment scheme to see if you can trade up to courses or universities that suit your career plans best.

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