Grade boundaries and the Uniform Mark Scale (UMS)

Grade boundaries show the minimum number of marks you need for each grade, and are published on results day. 

Once all exam papers have been marked, grade boundaries are set by senior examiners and assessment experts. It’s not until after all the marking has been completed that it’s possible to see how difficult students found the paper (for example, compared to previous years) and so take this into account when setting the boundaries. This means that a student who performed at a certain level should get the same grade regardless of which year they sat the exam.

When results are out, grade boundaries will be available on our raw mark grade boundaries page.

This video explains more about the marking and awarding process.

Or download our grade boundaries mini guide for a brief overview of the process.

Linear qualifications

Uniform marks are not used for GCSE, AS and A-level specifications because these are linear qualifications.

Component grade boundaries for linear qualifications

It can be useful to see how the overall subject grade was achieved. However, it’s important to note that the grade boundaries given for each component in linear qualifications are purely notional, and do not always add up to the equivalent subject grade.

Our guide to notional component grade boundaries has more information on this.

Modular qualifications

For qualifications that use uniform marks, we convert your raw exam mark to a UMS mark, which then determines your grade. For a detailed explanation of how the UMS works, see our UMS guide.

UMS converter

The UMS converter (grade boundary calculator) shows where your exam mark sits on the uniform mark scale.

Or you can download PDF tables for all qualifications:

Also see our quick guide to A-level A* grades.