A-level results day 2020 was held on Thursday the 13th of August and, despite the unsettling circumstances within the world, the day was still full of emotion as usual – but this year, the emotions were a lot less positive. As was confirmed in late March last year, students within the UK would not sit the exams due to the coronavirus pandemic and instead calculated grades would be given out. These grades would be based off of mock exams as well as general progression throughout the years and class work. Many students were disappointed with the grades they received on Thursday though and did not feel as though they were a true reflection of what they would have achieved had they sat their exams.
One student named Abbi Fitzgerald was reported to have said “my future has been set back completely” and there have been a lot of negative comments sent towards Gavin Williamson and the method he used to calculate the grades. A student named Maimuna Hassan ,from Acton in West London, says her results came as a “complete shock”. Maimuna was predicted A*A*A by her teachers and upon results day she was awarded A*AB, resulting in her missing out on her desired universities of choice. She believes her grades were demoted due to the history if low grades at the comprehensive school she attended in Chiswick- the school has previously been rated as “needs improvement” by Ofsted. She went on to claim that “they didn’t take individual circumstances into account”.
Another student named Toby Newton, from west London, was predicted A*A*A thus setting him on track to pursue his dreams of studying medicine at University however these dreams were snubbed after he was awarded BBC. He said “I feel like the government have let us down and I’m hoping they’ll reconsider the points and how they are being rewarded”. Like many students Toby has plans to appeal against these results in the hopes of being able to use his mock results of ABB. On the other hand, some students leading up to results day claimed that “mocks aren’t a fair way to decide grades”. A student named Mia said that her mock results were far lower than the grades she would need for university and despite not being entirely bad they are not what she would need for her future aspirations. There are claims that mocks are not a fair way of grading students due to the approach that different teachers take. For example Mia claimed that some of her teachers would guide her on what to revise and how to revise whereas other teachers wouldn’t give anything away in order to give the mock exams a more realistic feel. As a year 11 student who was preparing to sit their GCSE’s I also experienced the juxtaposition in teaching methods in preparations for the mock exams with some teachers telling me not to take them too serious and others telling me to act as if they were the real deal.
Despite there having been a large proportion of A-level students disappointed with their grades the dismay was not ever-present as some students were awarded fairly and even some generously. Overall results across the UK show record highs for A* and A grades at A-level. A student by the name of Caitlyn Foley said she was “very pleased” after she was awarded three A’s and an A*, she went on to say “I was nervous, just because I knew I worked hard all throughout the year, and I myself was disappointed because I couldn’t perform and do my exams and prove it myself”. A few students benefited from the last minute changes within the grading system used this year- another student named Tom Bush was awarded an A and two B’s but these grades will be upgraded to two A’s and a B. This is due to the ministers in Wales promised students that their A-level results this year would be no lower than the grades they achieved at AS-level the previous year. Despite this he said he was still uncertain leading up to results day and he also said “I know things happen but we’ve had quite a long time to prepare for this and it seems to have all gone up into the air a couple of days before”.
As is tradition, GCSE results day was after A-level results day on Thursday the 20th of August 2020. After the amalgam of emotions witnessed on the 13th, year 11 students around the UK had lost confidence in what they would be graded and it was a lot less unclear after witnessing the volume of unexpected disappointment within the A-level community. As a year 11 student who was waiting for GCSE grades, I was expecting the unexpected. But the question remains, what will be the governments answer to the questions being asked nationwide? How will the government excuse what many consider to be blatant- future destroying- mistakes? This year it has been announced that exams are cancelled and teachers will be deciding grades.
By Chikomborero Madanhi