On Thursday, more than half a million students will receive results for GCSEs and Level 1 and Level 2 vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs). Students across the country have told us that they wanted to sit exams and assessments to show what they know, understand and can do. Grades have been determined solely on the work that students have produced, and students should be proud of their achievements.
Here are a few things to remember if you’re receiving results on Thursday.
Support for students
To recognise the disruption from the pandemic, there was support in place for GCSE students this summer. In maths, physics, and combined science exams, students were given formulae and equation sheets, so there were fewer things to memorise for the exams. In GCSE modern foreign languages, the exams did not have to test unfamiliar vocabulary.
For VTQs, Ofqual allowed awarding organisations to adapt their assessments in 2021/2022, so that students were supported as we emerged from the pandemic. These adaptations were designed to free up time to recover lost teaching and learning. For many students, results from those assessments will be used towards qualifications this year.
For GCSEs, there has been a return to pre-pandemic grading this summer. There is protection in place and allowances have been made where the quality of student work is a little weaker than before the pandemic. This means that a typical student who would have achieved, for example, a grade 5 in GCSE maths before the pandemic, will be just as likely to get a grade 5 in GCSE maths in 2023, even if their performance in the assessments was a little weaker.
VTQs have different assessment arrangements and, unlike GCSEs (where all the exams are taken at the end of the course), VTQs are designed to be flexible so students can take assessments at different times of the year. Accordingly, awarding organisations have considered what was appropriate for grading each of their qualifications. Where possible, senior examiners have been monitoring for evidence of disruption and have taken this into account when setting grade boundaries for externally examined assessments.
GCSE French and German
In 2019, Ofqual announced that we would seek to align grade standards in GCSE French and German with Spanish, following the conclusion of our inter-subject comparability work. To seek this alignment, we required exam boards to award GCSE French and German more generously this summer, as in summer 2022.
National Reference Test
The results from the National Reference Test (NRT) 2023 will be published on Thursday. The tests are designed to provide evidence on the performance of 16-year-old students in English language and maths. The first live NRT, taken in 2017, was benchmarked against the first awards of the reformed GCSEs in English language and maths, and subsequent tests compare the performance of students with those in previous years. Results are reported at 3 grade boundaries – grade 7, grade 5 and grade 4. Results are reported as expected percentages of students achieving those grades (and above) based on changes in performance on the NRT.
If you’re receiving results on Thursday, we wish you all the best for the next stage of your education or training. If you have any questions about your results, you should speak to your school or college in the first instance who will be able to advise you.
Associate Director, Standards & Technical Issues, Ofqual