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How to appeal your teacher-assessed grades

With no exams this year, your grades will be assessed by your teachers. Here’s what can be done if you think they’ve got it wrong

GCSE and A-level exams have been cancelled and, instead, teachers will be deciding your final grades based on how you’ve got on with your course. They may have considered a range of academic work, such as your classwork, mocks or additional assessments.

Find out more about how this year’s system will work and what teachers will base your grades on from our sister site The Student Room.

For more detailed information on how everything will work you can also take a look at Ofqual's guide for students.

You can also take a look at the summer 2021 exams appeals guide and FAQs on our sister site The Student Room and ask your own questions there. 

Every student has the right to appeal their grades, for free. Here’s how things work if you want to appeal.

Before your grades were submitted

Your teachers will have collated evidence of your work and performance to support the grade that they decided to award you. Before they decided your grade, they should have made you aware of what evidence they used. 

You should have had an opportunity to confirm that the work is your own and to have made your teacher aware of any mitigating circumstances that should be taken into account.

Once you’ve received your grades

Results day has been moved forward this year to allow more time for uni applicants to appeal their grades should they need to. A-level results will be published on Tuesday 10 August 2021 and appeals for students waiting on grades for their uni applications will be prioritised.

Once you have your results, if you want to appeal your grades, you need to speak to your school or college.

The first thing they’ll do is make sure that all of their processes were followed correctly and no errors were made. This is called a centre review. See below for the deadlines for this process.

If your school or college finds an error, they can submit a revised grade to the exam board. Your school will not be assessing whether the teacher’s judgement of your grade was correct - they’ll be looking at any possible administrative errors. One example of this could be if your grade got mixed up with that of another student with a similar name to yours.

If you still want to appeal the grade you’ve been given after that, your school or college can submit a formal appeal to the exam board for you. This is called an exam board review.

It’s free of charge to make this appeal. See below for the deadlines for this process.

The exam board will check that your school or college followed its own processes and the exam board requirements. They’ll also review the evidence your teachers based your grade on and assess whether the grade awarded was a reasonable judgement of your work.

If they decide your grade was unreasonable, the exam board will determine the alternative grade and inform your school or college. 

Be aware that an appeal could result in your grade going up or down. 

The guidance on appeals also says that “appeals are not likely to lead to adjustments in grades where the original grade is a reasonable exercise of academic judgement supported by the evidence.”

Will unis hold your place while you make an appeal? Check out our video for answers to this and other questions about this year's system.

If you want to take your appeal further

After following the appeals process, if you disagree with the exam board or your school or college, or if your school or college disagrees with the exam board, you could apply to have your case referred to Ofqual’s Exams Procedure Review Service (EPRS). The EPRS will investigate to see whether the exam board has made a procedural error. If the EPRS doesn’t find a procedural error then the exam board’s decision regarding your appeal will still stand.

Additional appeals information

  • Your school or college can’t stop you from making an appeal.
  • Your appeal needs to explain what went wrong and why it made a difference to your grade.
  • You don’t need to say whether you think this was accidental or deliberate.
  • Your appeal should explain the following (as appropriate):
    • What your school/college failed to do, how they failed to follow procedures and how that affected your grade.
    • If your school/college made an administrative error and how that affected your grade.
    • In what way there was an unreasonable academic judgement:
      • in the selection of evidence used.
      • in the grade decided based on that evidence.
If you’re unhappy with the evidence that was used to decide upon your grade, it doesn’t matter whether or not you raised this with your school/college before the grades were decided. 

The question will be whether the grade you were given was reasonable or not, and not whether an alternative grade would have also been reasonable. 

For example, if the evidence used could reasonably support you getting either an A or a B, and you get a B, this would not be considered unreasonable. This could be a sticking point for people who feel their grade was close to the boundary of a higher grade for instance. 

Deadlines

There are two sets of deadlines.

Priority appeals are for students who are applying to uni and didn't get the grades needed for their firm choice. These appeals will be dealt with first as they will determine whether those students will be able to get into their first choice universities.

Universities should hold places for students in these circumstances, but be sure to keep them informed of what's going on.

Non-priority appeals are for all other students.
 

Deadlines for priority appeals

Schools and colleges may have their own deadlines, so be sure to check with them to be safe.

16 August - the suggested deadline for students to request a centre review.

23 August - the suggested deadline for centres to submit appeals to exam boards for an exam board review.

8 September - priority appeals submitted to exam boards by 23 August should be processed by this date.
 

Deadlines for non-priority appeals

3 September - the suggested deadline for non-priority students to request a centre review.

17 September - the suggested deadline for centres to submit appeals to exam boards for an exam board review.

Exam boards will aim to process these appeals within 42 calendar days.
 

If your appeal isn’t successful

If you are unhappy with your grades, you have every right to appeal but it’s a good idea to do that with a back-up plan in mind in case things don’t go your way. 

You may find that you are still able to get into your preferred university course, despite not getting the grades you had expected. If that’s not the case, remember there are plenty of other options available to you.

A full series of exams is taking place in the autumn. Anyone who receives a teacher-assessed grade this year has the option to sit a full exam to hopefully improve upon their teacher-assessed grade. You can read more about how the autumn exams will work here.

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