How grades will be awarded without exams

Information on how grades will be awarded for summer 2020 following the cancellation of exams due to coronavirus.

To make sure students get the qualifications they need to progress on to the next stage of their lives this summer, we'll be using the new process outlined by Ofqual to award grades.

This process applies to students entered for all our qualifications this summer, though there may be some variation for modular qualifications. We should know more once the outcome of Ofqual’s consultation is published.

Step 1: Schools provide information

Schools and colleges will need to provide the following information to their exam board:

  • Centre assessment grade for each student
  • Rank order of students within each grade

Centre assessment grades

The centre assessment grade is the teacher's professional judgement of the most likely grade a student would have achieved if exams had gone ahead.

It should be based on a range of evidence including mock exams, non-exam assessment, homework assignments and any other record of student performance over the course of study.

For tiered subjects, the centre assessment grade should reflect each student’s tier of entry. For example: 9 to 3 for higher tier and 5 to 1, or U, for foundation tier.

Rank order

Schools should then create a rank order of all students within each grade, for every subject.

This might be all students at Grade 5 in GCSE Maths or at Grade B in A-level Biology.

They should be ranked from highest to lowest – where student 1 is the most secure at that grade, student 2 the next most secure, and so on.

The rank order should include both higher and foundation tier students. Higher tier students do not need to be ranked above foundation tier students. You may judge, for example, that a foundation tier student with a centre assessment grade of 4 should be ranked above a higher tier student with the same centre assessment grade.

For more information, read our guidance on centre assessment grades and rank orders.

Sign off by Head of Centre

All grades and rank orders should be signed off internally before coming to us.

  • Two subject teachers will need to sign off the centre assessment grade, one of whom should be the Head of Department.
  • The Head of Centre will then sign off the centre assessment grade and the rank order, declaring the information is accurate and represents their professional judgement.

If the Head of Centre is not available, they can delegate this to a deputy.


The window for submitting grades and rank orders is Monday 1 June to Friday 12 June.

We'll be in touch with schools and colleges soon to give more detailed instructions. In the meantime, please start the work to generate centre assessment grades and rank orders.

Step 2: Exams boards standardise

To make the process fair for everyone, we will then standardise the centre assessment grades across all schools and colleges.

We’ll use evidence such as prior attainment (at school or college level, not individual student level) and national level grade distributions so that final grades are aligned across all schools and colleges, and of equal value to previous years. This will make sure that students aren’t disadvantaged if some schools are more generous than others when making their judgements.

Based on this, individual grades may be adjusted upwards or downwards. This means that the final grade awarded to a student could be different from the one their school or college sends to us.

We’ll share more detail on the standardisation process once it has been finalised by Ofqual.


Students will receive their results in August, as planned.

  • AS and A-level results day is Thursday 13 August
  • GCSE results day is Thursday 20 August


Students will be able to appeal these grades if they do not feel it reflects their performance.

Students will also have the option to sit their exams in the autumn, or next summer, if they wish to. If students do choose to sit exams, both grades (the calculated grade and exam result) will stand.

Private candidates

Private candidates should be included in the centre assessment grades submitted by schools and colleges, as long as the Head of Centre is confident that they and their staff have seen enough evidence of the student’s achievement to make an objective judgement.

Private candidates who have studied with distance learning providers which are also approved exam centres may also be able to receive a calculated grade.

Where private candidates do not have an existing relationship with their centre – or a distance learning provider registered as a centre – we’ve issued guidance to schools and colleges about the available options. Private candidates that don’t receive a calculated grade or are unhappy with their result, may unfortunately need to take exams in the autumn to get their grades instead.