A-level results in Kent: What can you do if you didn't get the A-level results you were hoping for

It's been an exam year like no other.

With tests scrapped because of coronavirus, this year's results have been all about predictions.

Collecting A-level results is a different experience this year
Collecting A-level results is a different experience this year

But this method of deciding 2020 grades - in which teacher predictions were then moderated by a statistical model - is causing huge levels of anxiety with accusations that thousands of results, particularly from high-achieving students in lower performing schools, have been downgraded by a computer resulting in many losing out on places at university.

Exam results in Scotland, released last week, are causing their own controversy with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon admitting the government "did not get it right" over the way it moderated grades, with those downgraded results having now been scrapped in favour of teacher predictions.

In Westminster, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson swiftly followed with his own fresh announcement late on Tuesday - offering students a fresh 'triple-lock' system in which they will have the choice to take the highest grade from either their estimated result, their mocks or an optional written exam in the autumn.

Coronavirus meant students put revision on hold and exams were scrapped
Coronavirus meant students put revision on hold and exams were scrapped

But what options are open to students who didn't get the results they were hoping for?

Usually, if A-level grades are not what was expected, there are very clearly set-out appeal systems in place. But this year things are likely to be a little different.

Here's what to do, and the options you or your teenager may have:

Can you appeal?

If the predictions aren't what you were expecting, speak to the school in the first instant.

As a result of the government's 'triple lock' option, there is now the opportunity to appeal this moderated grade in favour of a mock exam result (should the student have sat one) if that was a higher mark.

But only teaching staff at schools or colleges can appeal these A-level results on behalf of their pupils and the mechanics of this appeal system are not expected to be confirmed until sometime next week.

Individual pupils are not able to contest their results by themselves because they think they'd have done better if they'd been able to sit the actual A-level exams.

Instead it will be the job of schools or colleges to raise the appeal if there is the option to revert to a mock result or if results the school has been given don't, in its view, reflect recent improvements.

A school can also appeal for a student if it is thought that there has been some error in the process, but you must be clear on what basis it is the result is being appealed.

If a school or college won’t submit an appeal to the exam board on a student's behalf, it must have a process in place for you to ask for a review of that decision says the government.

Students are being encouraged to speak to their chosen university if they don't get given the grades they were hoping for
Students are being encouraged to speak to their chosen university if they don't get given the grades they were hoping for

Resits

Sitting exams in the autumn or next summer is an option for those who missed out on taking actual exams this summer and wish to defer going to university.

Any student who wants to explore this option must speak to their school or college as they will need to be entered for the subjects they wish to retake and students will have to take all the exam papers in that chosen resit subject.

The government has promised to cover the cost for schools of anyone who wishes to enter autumn exams in this way.

Anyone achieving a different grade in the exam will be able to use whichever mark is higher for either university applications or for adding to CVs when finding a job.

New results will be based on exam performance only. There will be no non-exam assessments and results from previous non exam assessments are not expected to be included or considered. Only students whose summer 2020 were cancelled can sit exams this autumn.

With many gap year travel plans on hold more students are expected to enter Clearing in search of a degree course
With many gap year travel plans on hold more students are expected to enter Clearing in search of a degree course

UCAS and Clearing:

If you didn't get the required grades for the course or university you were hoping for speak to the university you had chosen. It may still accept you onto the course, especially if you missed out on their requirement by a very small amount.

Alternatively if your results are likely to be appealed, speak to your chosen university and find out if they will hold your place until more information is available.

If you're not able to get on the course you wanted, and your results aren't the subject of an appeal by your school, then one of the options may be to use the UCAS Clearing service to match you and your grades with a course that you want.

With many gap year plans on hold because of restrictions around the world relating to the pandemic and concerns over job prospects and the risk of unemployment, many more students are expected to enter the UCAS clearing system this month in search of a suitable university course.

Last year 73,325 students found a degree course in this way, with some experts predicting the figure could be close to 80.000 by the end of August.

But with many foreign students not expected to come to the UK this year to study because of coronavirus, there may also be more options available through Clearing than in previous years as demand from oversees could be less.

Students who are part of an exam results appeal that has been lodged by their school or college should have until September 7 before universities they have applied to will want to make final decisions on who is being admitted to courses.

Where to learn more:

Exam regulator Ofqual: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ofqual

UCAS and Clearing: www.ucas.com

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