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How to Appeal GCSE Results

If results day did not go as anticipated, you may be wondering how to appeal GCSE results – whether these are your own grades or you are looking to challenge your child’s results. In the years following the pandemic, students are increasingly at a risk of receiving lower exam results which can have an impact on their choice of college or sixth form.

The Teacher Led Assessment Grades that students received in previous years saw an inflation in higher grades being awarded. Regulators have since attempted to level the grade boundaries used in marking this year to bring the national average back to the pre-pandemic figures.

This guide walks you through how to appeal GCSE results, covering the four stages of the process. It also outlines the essential criteria that reviewers must consider during an appeal. Along the way, we have included answers to some questions that parents and students commonly ask us. Can’t find the answer you’re looking for? Get in touch today and we will be more than happy to help.

If you would prefer to watch, the video below outlines the full process of appealing exam results in England with specialist education solicitors, Louise O’Driscoll and Andrea Burton.

Can you appeal GCSE results?

Yes, it is possible to appeal GCSE results. The process comprises four stages, from an initial review of marking through to an application to Ofqual’s Exam Procedure Review Service for a final review.

Is it worth appealing GCSE results?

Before you consider appealing your child results, it is important to highlight that an appeal will not definitely result in an upward adjustment of the grade. There is even a possibility that the given grade could be deemed too high and thus be reduced upon appeal.

How to challenge a grade once it has been received

If you have received your GCSE results and wish to appeal against them, the process is dealt within 4 stages:

Stage 1 – Reviews of Marking and Moderation

You can ask that your child’s school request a review of marking or moderation from the exam board. This will entail the exam board informing you whether there were any errors in the exam boards marking for any exam or non-exam assessment and errors corrected.

Stage 2 – Appeals to the Exam Board

If you would like to appeal further and are not content with a marking or moderation error that remains after the review, or on grounds of a procedural error, an appeal can be submitted by your child’s school to the exam board where it will be considered by an exam board officer.

Stage 3 – Appeal Hearing

An appeal hearing can be requested by your child’s school if it is not satisfied with the outcome of the appeal to the exam board. This appeal will be considered by a panel at the exam board.

Stage 4 – Exam Procedures Review Service

If the school is still not satisfied with the outcome of the appeal hearing, it can apply to Ofqual’s Exam Procedure Review Service for a final review. Ofqual will consider if there is a case and will answer it.

What must reviewers consider during an appeal

A reviewer must:

  1. Consider the original marking.
  2. Decide whether there were any administrative errors in the marking, correct them, and adjust the grade accordingly.
  3. Check each question which only had one right answer and the mark awarded. If there are any errors, the reviewers must remark the question.
  4. Check that credit was awarded correctly to questions that had a range of answers and that the mark scheme was followed. The reviewers must consider whether the original marker was unduly lenient or harsh, that they had the appropriate subject knowledge to use the mark scheme and that there was a rational basis for the mark.

How long do GCSE appeals take?

The length of time taken for a GCSE appeal varies depending on which stages are involved. The initial review of marking and appeal to the exam board will typically take between 5-10 weeks, with most exam boards aiming to complete investigations within 6 weeks of receiving your application. Should your appeal require a hearing or even reach the final stage of an Ofqual review, the process may take longer than this in total.

If you are concerned about the length of time a GCSE appeal may take – or the likely outcome – speak to our team today.

Richard Nelson LLP can help

If you would like to talk through your options, get in touch and speak to one of our education solicitors today.


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