Special consideration

When students are disadvantaged during their exams we can sometimes make mark adjustments as part of a process called special consideration.

Minimum requirement

The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) has reduced the minimum requirement for special consideration where a student has missed part of their AS, A-level or GCSE exams. Students are eligible for special consideration if they have completed 25% of the total assessment for the subject award.

When special consideration is applicable

If a student is fully prepared for the exam but is disadvantaged due to illness or unavoidable circumstances beyond their control at the time of the exam or when they complete their coursework/controlled assessment.

In these cases, a small percentage is added to the raw mark. The percentage is determined by using the guidelines agreed by all the awarding bodies and published by JCQ.

If a student is absent from an exam for a valid reason.

In these cases, a mark is calculated for the missing unit provided the student has completed enough of the specification to meet the minimum requirements specified by JCQ – this is known as a 'z-score'. The calculation of the missing mark takes into account the student's performance in the other comparable units of the exam and the national average for those units. The assumption is that the student will perform as well – no better, no worse – on the paper with the missing mark compared to their performance on the other papers when compared to the national cohort.

This method is considered to be fair and consistent, and is applied the same way by all exam boards offering GCSEs and A-levels.

To find out more, read JCQ's guidance.

How to apply for special consideration

Exams officers must apply online using the special consideration section of Centre Services. Select one of the following four options.

  • Disadvantaged candidate – for a student who was disadvantaged at the time of a written exam.
  • Absent candidate – for a student who was absent from a written exam.
  • Group request – for a group of students for any exam or assessment.
  • Non-timetabled assessment – for a student whose coursework, oral or practical assessment has been lost or is incomplete.

Applications are then processed by our special consideration team. Exams officers can select 'view requests' in Centre Services to see the outcome.

Supplementary guidance on special consideration process for summer 2022 exams

The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) has updated their Guide to the special consideration process for General and Vocational Qualifications, for summer 2022 exams to account for the UK Health Security Agency’s Guidance around COVID-19.

It now includes an appendix ‘Supplementary guidance on the special consideration process for centres in England June 2022 examination series’ which gives examples of possible scenarios of students with Covid-19 or with symptoms of Covid-19 and what schools and colleges need to do.

Important notes

  • If a student thinks they may be eligible for special consideration, they should discuss this with the exams officer at their school or college. The school or college must support an application for special consideration.
  • An examiner does not apply special consideration when marking an exam, as this has to be done post-marking by the special consideration team.
  • We cannot use grades which are predicted by the school or college in our calculations. This is to ensure that all students are assessed according to the same criteria and that the standard of the exam is upheld when awards are made.
  • Special consideration can only ever go some way towards compensating a student who has been disadvantaged during an exam. It is not always possible to reflect what might have been achieved in more favourable circumstances.