With the build up of anticipation following two years of hard work, GCSE results day is a big day not just for students, but also for their parents. Whilst it can be a day of great celebration if grades meet or exceed expectations, it will be deeply disappointing if they do not. GCSE results are not only important for sixth form admissions, they count towards university applications.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know on results day. This will help you to offer the best support and advice you can for your child, so that they are able to make the best choices for themselves.
Preparing for the Day
It is important to be well prepared for results day. Find out the school’s opening and closing times for results collection, who to contact with any questions and remark/retake requests, and what to do if you are unable to collect results in person.
The Uniform Mark Scale (UMS) converts the ‘raw’ mark of each exam to a scale which allows comparison across different years, so that differences in the difficulty of each exam paper are not reflected onto an examinee’s results.
On results day, ensure that you check the UMS score of each GCSE module against ‘grade boundaries’, available on the websites of individual exam boards. This will allow you to check why some grades may be lower than expected. If any UMS marks are unusually low, or if they fall just below a grade boundary, it might be worth requesting a marking review or a re-mark. A significantly low result may be the result of a clerical or inputting area. Furthermore, essay-based exams such as English and History are marked subjectively, so a re-mark may push an exam paper over a higher grade boundary. It is important, however, to bear in mind that a remark could result in a lower UMS score, so consider this option carefully.
Retaking an exam is another option available. This may be a good choice if your child performed badly in an exam due to outside circumstances, or if one exam paper is pulling down the average of an entire GCSE grade. However, you must think about whether the individual GCSE is important enough to bother retaking, as it may interfere with your son or daughter’s 6th Form studies. A retake may only be worthwhile if it is a core subject, such as maths or English, or if it has a bearing on your child’s future studies. If they hope to study medicine, a disappointing chemistry result should certainly be considered for a retake, but if they would like to read history at university, it would be better to focus on 6th Form studies instead.
The new ‘terminal assessment’ rule means that 40% of the assessment of a GCSE must take place in the final sitting. This has a big implication on retakes, because it means that the retaken exam mark may contribute to the final grade even if it is lower than the original mark. A GCSE grade may therefore be lower after a retake than it previously was. Discuss this with your school’s teacher or examination officer before deciding on a retake.
Thinking about the Future
GCSE results day is a good point to stop and think about future options, offering a chance to reassess the strategy for the future. It can help in deciding between A levels and the International Baccalaureate, in deciding subject choices, or, if results are lower than expected, whether 6th form and university is indeed the most appropriate path. Speak to an educational consultant, or your school’s teachers. They will be able to offer informed advice, helping to make these crucial decision.