Results day 2021 explained: How are A Levels and GCSEs calculated and how can I appeal?

School pupils poised to receive record results on back of grades assessed solely by teachers

Will it be all smiles when students get their teacher-assessed exam results? AFP
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A-Levels and GCSE pupils in the UK, UAE and across the globe are to receive their results this week.

A-Level results will be released on Tuesday and GCSE results on Thursday.

After last year's fiasco when the algorithm used to grade exams left thousands of 18 year olds without university places, British education authorities will be hoping to avoid similar embarrassment.

How are A-Level and GCSE results being calculated in 2021?

Teacher assessments are the basis for this year's grades, as they were last year after the UK government's algorithm U-turn.

The assessments are based on several pieces of marked work and previous exams. Pupils must be made aware of what work and exams are being assessed before their grades are finalised.

All work assessed is based on this year's teaching, making allowances for teaching hours curtailed by Covid restrictions.

All grades will be double-checked by other teachers before being signed off by the head teacher.

Exam boards have a modified role this year. Instead of marking exams, they will monitor the process to averting any abuse and judge if the evidence teachers use to grade pupils is fair.

What are the differences between 2021's exam results process and 2020's?

There is one significant difference with 2020 as the use of algorithms has been entirely scrapped. Although teacher-graded assessments were eventually used last year, their equity was assessed in comparison to the original set of results calculated by the algorithm.

With all technological involvement removed from the process, UK Education Secretary Gavin Williamson will hope this month will prove less tumultuous than last August, when aggrieved A-Level and GCSE pupils protested across the UK.

However, some critics say the reliance on teachers will lead to inflated grades and pupils are concerned their results may be given less credence by potential employers should this be the case.

How can A Level and GCSE results be appealed?

All appeals will be free but the process varies depending on where exams were taken.

Pupils in Scotland and Wales were given their provisional grades in June, so were able to start the process then.

Provisional grades in England were not disclosed, so the appeals process begins from Tuesday.

If a university place hinges on the outcome of an appeal, it will be given priority status. The deadline for priority appeals is August 23 or 24, depending on where the applicant lives.


In England, non-priority appeals must go through the school or college initially, meaning deadlines will vary according to the institution.

Would-be students are being told that appeals will be tough to win unless they have firm evidence that the correct procedure was not followed.

Will A-Levels and GCSE exams return in 2022?

Mr Williamson hopes exams will return in 2022, although he told the House of Commons' education select committee in June that to “immediately switch back to the situation as it was back in 2019" was not possible.

Adjustments lined up for next year include slimming down some of the subject areas to be tested and pushing back the dates of exams to increase lesson time.

Updated: August 10, 2021, 11:46 AM