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A guide to grade appeals in 2021

With exams cancelled this summer, this quick guide covers the steps you will need to take if you decide to appeal your A-levels, BTECs or other qualifications that contribute to your UCAS tariff points.

How can I appeal my grades?

Find information on each step of appealing your grades:

If there’s anything we haven’t covered, please call our helpline on 01202 966777 (lines are open Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm). You can also make BU your uni by completing our online Clearing application form.

How to request a review of your grades

If you feel that there has been a mistake made in awarding your grade(s) based on the evidence used to assess you, you should first speak to your school or college and ask for a centre review. This is an internal review conducted by your school or college so that they can check for errors in how you have been assessed.

Once this centre review has been completed, if you still believe that your grade is incorrect, you can ask your school or college to appeal to the relevant exam board. This isn’t something you will be able to do yourself – your school or college must do this on your behalf. If you’re an independent candidate, you will need to speak to the centre that submitted your grades.

Note: please consider that an exam board appeal could result in your grade(s) going up, down or staying the same, and the exam board’s decision is final. See ‘how the process works’ below for more information.

During this time, it’s important to contact your firm-choice university straight away to notify them of your appeal, as they may hold your place for you. Make sure that you keep them up-to-date with what’s happening throughout the process.

Important dates and deadlines

If you decide to request a centre review – an internal review by your school or college – or an exam body appeal, you will be classed as either a priority or a non-priority appeal. The definitions of a priority and a non-priority appeal are the same for centre reviews and exam body appeals.

Centre review

Priority appeal: deadline 16 August 2021

If you haven’t secured the grades for your firm-choice university and you are appealing the result of an A-level or other Level 3 qualification, you will be classed as a priority appeal. You must submit your appeal to your school, college or centre by 16 August 2021.

Non-priority appeal: deadline 3 September 2021

For all other appeals, you will be classed as a non-priority appeal. You must submit your appeal by 3 September 2021.

Exam body appeal

If you request an exam body appeal, your school or college will submit this for you. Read on to find out more about how this process works.

Priority appeal: deadline 23 August 2021

Non-priority appeal: deadline 17 September 2021

How the exam board review process works

If your school or college has requested a grade appeal on your behalf, the exam board will carry out an independent review.

They’ll look at the evidence provided by your school or college and decide whether you were given a reasonable grade. Throughout this time, the exam board will keep you informed of the status of your appeal.

As with the centre review process, you should also keep your firm-choice university up-to-speed with what’s happening. If the exam board rejects your appeal, it will explain why. 

Once the review is complete, the exam board will decide on a final grade for you. The possible outcomes are: 

  • Your original grade is changed – your grade can go up or down
  • Your original grade is confirmed – there is no change to your grade.

It’s important to be sure that appealing is the right decision for you; if your grade has been lowered, you won’t be able to go back to your original grade.

What happens to your university place while you’re appealing

It’s really important to make contact and keep in contact with your firm-choice university during your centre review and/or exam board review. They may hold your place for you, pending your final grade outcome. 

If they aren’t able to hold your place or your exam board review is unsuccessful, there are still options available. You can apply to other universities through Clearing – the last opportunity for you to find a place at university for September 2021 start.

At BU, we may be able to hold a place for you if you’re appealing your grades and there are still places available on your chosen course. Read our Guide to Clearing and see what courses are available at BU. If we do hold a place for you, please send your final grades to [email protected] and we will let you know if we are able to confirm your place. A place will be held for you until Wednesday 8 September 2021. 

What happens after the review process

If you disagree with the decision of your centre or the exam board, your case can be referred to Ofqual’s Exams Procedure Review Process (EPRS). The exam board’s decision on your grade will stand unless the EPRS finds that the exam board has made a procedural error. Ofqual regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England. If you live in Wales it’s WJEC or CCEA if you’re in Northern Ireland. Find out more about appealing exam results across the UK.

You also have the option to sit exams this autumn. However, if you decide to do this, you might not be able to start university in 2021 if your place depends on receiving a higher grade in a particular subject. Some unis might offer January 2022 start dates. Another option is to defer your uni place for a year and sit exams this autumn or in the summer of 2022.

Study at BU this September