Thousands of pupils across the UAE are eagerly anticipating receiving their GCSE results on Thursday morning at 11am.
GCSE grades can be obtained either by visiting the school or by receiving an email.
With the marking system back to the pre-pandemic model, education experts in the UK have warned there could be 300,000 fewer top GCSE grades across the board this year when the results are officially unveiled.
However, spirits are high in the Emirates where some educators have already been informed of their school's performance.
Better than ever
Staff at Dubai British School, Emirates Hills are celebrating, having confirmed this year's GCSE pass rate has not only exceeded that of the last few years but also that of 2019 – before the pandemic.
While the actual results were not allowed to be officially revealed until Thursday morning, principal Sarah Reynolds said she was over the moon having been already given the good news.
“The pandemic changed a lot of things for a lot of people, not least students,” said Ms Reynolds.
“Prior to last year, we didn't have the public exams and the grade boundaries were on a downwards glide to get us back to a 2019 standard.
“The students have worked hard to get back to that standard and have, in fact, done that in spades and actually exceeded it.
“We've actually got the strongest results in the school's history.”
Other schools say the changes to the marking system will guide them in preparing their pupils for future exams.
“In-line with the announcements from the UK and international examination boards and the Department for Education, schools will be anticipating some changes to the GCSE/IGCSE results when they are released to students tomorrow,” said Matthew Burfield, senior vice president of Education at Gems Education and principal/chief executive of Gems Education Founders School – Dubai.
“The alignment of GCSE/IGCSE standards to pre-pandemic results is likely to see adjustments in the grades awarded and this will inform our schools how to prepare students for examinations in the future.
“For our students receiving grades tomorrow, we hope that their dedication and hard work will be rewarded and that the grades will be a true reflection of their achievement and potential.”
Exam regulator Ofqual predicted that the GCSE results could be lower than previous years, with the exams returning to pre-pandemic grading systems for the second consecutive year.
This would be in line with the A-level results released last week which were similar to 2019 when exams were used to grade the students, rather than the teacher assessments used during the pandemic.
The number of A* and A grades recorded in schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland was 27.2 per cent – down from 44.8 per cent during the pandemic.
“We are expecting our pupils to have performed well in a year where grade boundaries have been reduced to pre-Covid levels and where 300,000 fewer Grade 9s than last year have been reported to have been awarded,” said Simon Crane, headmaster at Brighton College Dubai.
“The UK national average for Grade 9s in 2019, pre-Covid, was 4.7 per cent. The Grade 9 was introduced to provide a challenge to the brightest pupils taking GCSE examinations. It’s considerably tougher to achieve than the old A*, which is more closely aligned to the Grade 8.”