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Didn’t get the A-level results you wanted? Here’s what to do next

Didn’t get the A-level results you wanted? Here’s what to do next

If your child’s A-level results aren’t what you expected, there’s no need to panic. Julie Swan, Executive Director for General Qualifications, Ofqual, provides advice for parents if your children didn’t get the A-level results they were predicted.

Every year there are students who are disappointed with one or more of their results, but they are still able to move on to college, university, an apprenticeship or employment as they planned. They focus on looking forward.

Others — especially those whose plans have been affected by their results — ask to have their grade or grades checked: They appeal.

What’s happened with A-level results in 2021?

In England, grades have been awarded in a different way this year, but students can still get them checked if they think a mistake has been made. The process is straightforward and you don’t need any legal advice in order to appeal.

If your child didn’t get their predicted A-level grades they need to move on, find out what they need to do next.

Read on to discover what to do after GCSEs, AS, A level, Project qualifications and Advanced Extension Award results.

1. Talk to the college, university, training provider or employer

You might find that even though your child didn’t get the grades they needed, the university, college, training provider or employer will still offer them a place or job. They should check this first before considering an appeal.

2. Talk to your child’s current school or college

Your child’s next step is to talk to teachers at their school or college and ask them to check that no mistakes were made when their teachers decided their grades and submitted them to the exam board.

The school or college will check whether they did everything they were supposed to. If they find a mistake that affected the grade, they will ask the relevant exam board to correct it.

Each school or college will have their own deadline for receiving appeals, which will be before the exam boards’ own deadlines. Get in touch as soon as possible to make sure you don’t miss your school’s deadline.

3. Ask the exam board to check

If the school or college does not find it made any mistakes, your child can ask their school or college to send an appeal to the exam board on their behalf. There are certain reasons that you can appeal for, which you and your child should check carefully to avoid wasting time and effort.

The exam boards have provided an optional template to help students explain why they think their grade is wrong; some schools and colleges might have their own, similar templates.

The deadline for a school or college to submit an appeal to exam board is 17 September 2021. Again, your child should check the deadline set by their school or college, as it will be earlier.

4. University places

If your child has missed out on their first choice of university place because of their A-level results, they need to act quickly and ask the exam board to prioritise looking at their appeal.

The deadline for a school or college to submit a priority appeal to an exam board is 23 August. Again, your child should check the deadline set by their school or college, as it will be earlier.

5. Appealing to Ofqual

If your child thinks the exam board made a mistake when it considered their appeal, they can apply to Ofqual’s Exam Results Appeals Service (EPRS). Your child can only apply to the EPRS once the exam board has finished considering the appeal.

At Ofqual we can check whether the exam board followed the correct procedure. If we find the exam board did not do so, we will ask the exam board to look again at how it dealt with the student’s case. The EPRS cannot change your child’s grade. You can only apply to our EPRS for certain qualifications, and your child should check this before applying.

6. Assessments for vocational and technical qualifications

If your child has studied for a qualification that is similar to, or taken alongside GCSEs, AS or A levels (for example a BTEC or an OCR Cambridge Technical), they might have had a result based partly or totally on a teacher-assessed grade.

In this case, if your child is concerned that their teacher-assessed grade is wrong, they should follow their college, training provider or school’s appeals process. This is likely to be very similar for the process for GCSEs, AS and A levels.

The first stage will be for the college, training provider or school to check that they didn’t make a mistake, and then for them to ask the awarding organisation to check.

For Level 3 qualifications, the deadline for a training provider, school or college to submit an appeal on behalf of a student to the awarding organisation is 23 August if they want their appeal to be considered as a priority because they have not had their first choice of university place confirmed. Please check the deadline that your child’s college, training provider or school has set for these priority appeals, as it will be earlier. 

For all other vocational, technical and general qualifications, your child should follow the usual process for appeals set out by the college, training provider or school, and awarding organisation.

7. Remember: A-level results can go down as well as up

It’s important to note that as a result of their appeal, your child’s grade could go up, or down.

Keep up updates on A-level results, grades and other qualifications

Ofqual’s rolling update has all the up to date information on qualifications which have been disrupted by coronavirus (COVID-19).

More advice on education, exams and tests


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