How to appeal A Level results 2021: appeals process explained if you don’t get grades you want on results day

If you’re not happy with your exam results, you can appeal through your school, exam board, or Ofqual

A record number of students have been accepted to UK degree courses this year, the latest Ucas figures show.

A total of 435,430 people, from the UK and overseas, have had their places confirmed, which is up five per cent on the same point last year according to data published by the university admissions service.

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However, A Level results day doesn’t always bring the grades that a pupil might have hoped for - this is what you need to know about how to appeal your grades, and the steps you can take.

Students react as they open their A-level results (Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

How to appeal your results

If you’re unhappy with the results you’ve received on your A Levels, the Government says that “your first step should be to speak to your school or college for feedback and advice”.

You can do this by asking your school or college to:

- Check they followed the correct process when deciding your grade

- Make sure they sent the correct grade to the exam board

You should double check with your school or college what the deadline for doing this is. If your school or college does identify a mistake, a revised grade can be submitted to the exam board for consideration.

If an error has not been identified, but you are still unhappy with your results, you can ask your school or college to submit a formal appeal to the exam board on your behalf.

You can ask for an appeal for any of the following reasons:

- Your school or college did not follow their own processes properly

- Your school or college did not make a reasonable judgement about what evidence they used to decide your grade

- Your school or college did not make a reasonable judgement about your grade based on the evidence available to them

- Your school or college did not carry out the review of your grade correctly

You can also appeal if the exam board made a mistake when processing your result.

The exam board will decide if your grade needs correcting - be aware that there is always a chance that your new grade could actually end up lower than your original grade.

Your school or college will need to submit your appeal to the exam board by:

- 23 August 2021 - if your university or college place depends on your results

- 17 September 2021 - for all other GCSE, AS and A level results

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What if I’m not happy with the exam board appeal?

Your final route of appeal is to apply to Ofqual’s Exams Procedure Review Service (EPRS) to review your appeal.

The Government says: “You can apply to EPRS if the exam board decides that the grade you were awarded is reasonable, and your school or college correctly followed its procedure, but you are still concerned that there may have been an error in the procedure used by the exam board to conduct the appeal.”

The EPRS will only consider whether the exam board has followed the correct rules and procedures - it will not consider whether you received the correct grade based on the evidence of your work.

The exam board’s final decision on your grade will stand unless the EPRS finds that the exam board made an error in its review procedure - even in this situation, your grade could still remain the same.

You can only ask EPRS for a review once you have received the outcome of your appeal from the exam board.

After you’ve received your outcome from the exam board, you then have 21 days to apply to EPRS. If you wait longer than three weeks after the appeal decision, you will need to tell EPRS why there was a delay, but it might not accept your application.

To apply to EPRS, you must email the public enquiries team at [email protected] with the subject line “EPRS application”.

In your email, you must state:

- The qualification you want Ofqual to look at (e.g A Level, GCSE etc)

- The name and address of the school, college or other centre which decided your teacher assessed grades

- The name of the exam board

- The date of the letter from the exam board with your final appeal decision

From here, the EPRS will consider whether your case can be looked at - if not, you will be given advice for what you can do instead.

If EPRS does decide to look at your case, you will be sent a link to a form. You must fill out the form in its entirety, and you will need to explain what you think went wrong.

Do appeals cost money?

It was announced in August 2020 that appeals will be free for students in state-funded centres, and for private candidates as well.

Previously, exam boards charged schools up to £25 per appeal, however this cost could increase up to £150 in certain cases.

How were grades decided this year?

A Levels this year were determined by teacher judgement, with grades being signed off by the head of department and head teacher or principal being before being submitted to the exam board.

No algorithm was used this year to assign grades, with schools or colleges instead telling pupils the evidence that was used to determine grades.

A range of evidence could have been used to decide a grade, including mocks, tests and work that pupils have already done.