2021 exam changes

Your go-to place for exam changes and teacher support in 2021 and beyond

Appeals for summer 2021

This page contains all the information you need on the appeals process for summer 2021 results.

Sharing information with students

Please be ready to share the following information with students on results day.

  • Ofqual's student guide to awarding: summer 2021, including helpful information on what to do if they think their grade is wrong.
  • The evidence used to determine the student’s grade (including grades/marks for individual pieces of evidence such as non-exam assessment (NEA) or an endorsement grade/level).
  • The school or college’s centre policy and any supporting information.
  • The school or college’s appeals process and any supporting information.
  • Details of any variations to the sources of evidence used to determine the student’s grade (because of disruption to their teaching).
  • Details of any special considerations in determining their grade (eg access arrangements or mitigating circumstances such as illness).

For more detail on sharing information with students, see the guidance from JCQ.

Keeping evidence

All evidence on which a student’s grade is based (including copies of their work and any mark records) must be kept safely by the school or college.

If a student appeals their grade, this work will be evidence to support how that grade was determined.

You’ll also need to keep any information relating to students’ access arrangements or personal circumstances affecting their performance, as this could also be considered during an appeal.

Evidence of students’ performance that has not been used to determine grades should also be kept, as it may be required for the appeals process.

Grounds for appeal

Students can appeal if they think that:

  • there was an error in the way the school or college followed or applied its procedure for determining their grade
  • the school or college didn’t make a reasonable judgement when deciding which evidence to use to determine their grade
  • the school or college didn’t make a reasonable judgement about their grade based on the evidence used
  • the exam board made an administrative error.

Students can appeal on a single ground or on multiple grounds. However, they can only submit one appeal per subject.

Schools and colleges must accept and process any requests for appeals from students (including private candidates) – failure to do so could constitute malpractice.

The appeals process

If a student feels the grade they received is wrong, there’s an appeals process unique to this summer series for them to follow.

There will be no charge for submitting appeals, and schools and colleges must accept any request for an appeal from a student (including private candidates).

Stage one: Centre review

If a student feels their grade is wrong, they should speak to their school or college first to check if there was a mistake in determining or submitting the grade. This is known as a 'centre review'.

The centre review should check that the process has been followed correctly and that no administrative errors were made. It does not review the judgement of the grade itself (for example, re-marking students’ work).

If a centre review is requested on the grounds of unreasonable judgement, schools and colleges do not need to review their academic judgement at this stage. However, a centre review must still be completed to make sure there’s been no procedural or administrative errors.

Internal deadlines for centre review

We recommend setting the following internal deadlines to request a Centre review.

  • Priority appeals: 16 August 2021 (students applying to higher education who did not get their first choice and wish to appeal an A-level or other Level 3 qualification result).
  • All other appeals: 3 September 2021.

Internal process for centre review

Due to the short timescales for centre reviews and the potential exam board appeals to follow, schools and colleges should:

  • have a clear and documented process for students to make appeals
  • share this process with students
  • be able to access the evidence used to support student grades.

We recommend using the appeals request template, consent form and evidence checklist included in the JCQ appeals guidance (Appendix B).

If a university place is dependent on the outcome, students should include their UCAS personal ID with the appeal request and notify the university as soon as possible.

Outcome of centre review

If a centre review finds that an error was made which impacted on a student’s result, the school or college can submit a revised grade – with rationale for us to consider – using our online appeals system.

For more information, read the JCQ guidance for schools and colleges on correcting errors in results (Appendix D).

Stage two: Exam board appeal

If the school or college does not find an error as part of the centre review but the student still believes that their grade is wrong, they can ask their school or college to submit a formal appeal on their behalf to the exam board. This is known as an 'Exam board appeal'.

If an appeal is submitted to an exam board, schools and colleges will need to supply the complete evidence in support of the student’s grade that was submitted.

Deadlines for exam board appeals

The deadlines for submitting an exam board appeal are:

  • priority appeals: 23 August 2021
  • all other appeals: 17 September 2021.

We aim to complete priority appeals by the UCAS deadline of 8 September, as long as they are submitted by 23 August.

We aim to complete all other appeals within 42 calendar days.

Submitting an exam board appeal

To submit an exam board appeal, schools and colleges will use our new online appeals system for 2021.

Outcome of exam board appeal

The appeal will either be upheld or not upheld, wholly or in part (for example if you have submitted an appeal on multiple grounds).

Students should be aware that their grade could go up, down, or stay the same.

Next steps

Procedural review

If a student has completed the appeals process and remains concerned that the exam board hasn't followed their appeals process correctly, they may be able to apply to the Exam Procedures Review Service (EPRS) for a procedural review.

For further guidance, please check Ofqual's website.

Autumn exams

Students who would like the chance to improve their grade can sit the exam in autumn.

Find out more about the autumn exam series.

Vocational, Technical and other qualifications

Appeals for Vocational, Technical and other qualifications (VTQs) will follow a similar approach to GCSEs, AS and A-levels.

For Tech-levels and our Award and Certificate in Personal and Social Education (PSE), students will be able to appeal at unit level. Appeals should be submitted on Gateway.

For all other qualifications, appeals will be at subject-level only.

Where students have taken exams for our Functional Skills qualifications, the usual post-results services will apply.

Summary

  • Autumn exams will take place. Information available for general and non-general qualifications
  • We've published information about how fees are being used this summer
  • DfE and Ofqual consultation decisions published for VTQs in 2022 only

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Exams officers can contact our customer services team by:

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Parents and students should contact their school or college in the first instance.

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