A Level Results Covid-Style - What You Need To Know This Year

Get the inside track on how results will work this year and how you can challenge them from our Undercover Teacher.


Things have changed since I wrote my A Level Results Prep List last year. The experience for both you and your child will be very different this year, and both of you would benefit from being ready for it.


While much of the advice from last year stands, the most important difference, of course, is that your child will not have taken any examinations this year, and their teachers will have predicted their results. These will have been internally moderated by their school and then externally moderated by the exam boards.


These grades, known as Centre Assessed Grades, or CAGs, had to reflect what the school believed students would have most likely attained if the exams had happened as planned.


Importantly, in addition to this, schools had to provide a ranked list of all students within each grade for each subject. For example: if a school had predicted an A grade for ten of their A-level history students, they would rank those pupils from 1 to 10, with 1 being the “most secure/highest attaining”, 2 being the next most secure, and so on. Schools considered a wide range of evidence, including classwork, any non-exam assessments, mock exams and their previous results. We were told to be “fair, objective and carefully considered” when submitting the grades.


The exam boards were then to “combine this information with other relevant data, including prior attainment, and use this information to produce a calculated grade for each student.” Schools were told quite firmly that if grades appeared to be more severe, or more generous than others across the board, the exam boards will adjust grades accordingly.


Why am I telling you this? Well, it impacts what you might do to support your child on A-level results day should they be unhappy with their grades. There are no opportunities to get remarks for individual papers, which was often the way that students could previously get their grades changed should they feel they might have been unfairly marked.


Instead, if you and/or your child feels their grade does not reflect their ability, this year you have some different options:


  1. If you and/or the school suspects that an administrative or technical error has occurred in the process (the grade the school sent is so different from the grade your child received that it is possible a wrong grade has been entered), the school can submit an appeal. This is VERY unlikely to have happened, however.
  2. If you and/or your child suspects that bias or discrimination has influenced the way their teachers estimated their grade, you can complain to the school, or if you have evidence of ‘serious malpractice’ you can actually appeal directly to the exam board.
  3. You have the right to request ‘subject access requests’ (SAR) for both your CAG and your rank order information. Your child has to request these, not you. Having been part of the process for deciding CAGs this year, I can tell you that huge care and attention was paid to it being a fair and objective process, using a significant amount of data, so going down this route should only be done if you have good evidence.
  4. If the school feels that their grades have been unfairly downgraded across the board - as a whole – then the school itself can challenge their results. Grounds for this to succeed might include that the school had been through a major change of leadership which has turned around recent classroom performance and so past results would not be a safe guide to future results or a significant event had happened in previous years such as a school merger or a movement from single sex to co-education. Furthermore, if a school can show evidence they were expecting different results because they had an exceptional group of students then they can also contest grades.
  5. Your child can re-sit their A-levels in the Autumn Series which take place between October 5th and October 23rd 2020, for which the deadline for entry is September 4th. This is a no risk option, as they would retain the higher grade between their CAG and the exam score.