Appealing against bad grades

If you feel you've been dealt an injustice with your exam or coursework results then you don't have to just accept it. Here's how you can take action.

upset girl failed

Upset and confused by your final mark?

Can I appeal against bad grades?

Yes. Every year thousands of GCSE and A-level students are awarded the wrong results for their work, so it’s no wonder that more people are lodging enquiries and appeals. The figures for appeals have been rising over the years, and Ofqual have recently made it harder to get exam papers reviewed in a bid to be more fair… but it’s definitely still worth pushing for it if your feel you deserve more.

Who to speak to

George Turnbull from Ofqual, the Government body responsible for exams says: “The first thing you’ve got to do is speak to one of your teachers at your school or college. Students can’t make enquiries directly with the examining board; everything has got to go through the school unless you are an external (or private) candidate.”

Your school or college should support an enquiry on your behalf, so it’s important you speak to a teacher or lecturer at the earliest opportunity as there are deadlines to meet.

What are the deadlines?

This year’s A-level results are published on August 17 and GCSEs on August 24. If you need an A-level paper to be re-marked quickly because your university place depends on your result, then you can request a priority review . The deadlines for enquiries are:

  • August 24 for an A-level priority re-mark (e.g. if a university place is at stake)
  • August 31 for a GCSE script request (accessing your marked paper to decide if you want to ask for a re-mark)
  • September 21 to skip the GCSE script request and have your paper re-marked
  • September 21 for standard A-level and GCSE enquiries

How long will it take?

The time it takes to deal with an enquiry can vary depending on the examining body marking your paper. The maximum time it will take for an A-level priority re-mark is 15 days. If it’s a standard A-level or GCSE enquiry the period is 20 days.

Does it cost me anything?

It’s up to your school or college who pays for a re-mark: “Students may not have to pay for it themselves” says George. “Normally the school or college supporting the enquiry will foot the bill”.

A clerical re-check will cost around £10-£20 depending on the paper and examining body. This is where exam papers are checked to ensure that every question has been marked and the total awarded for each paper has been correctly calculated. A full re-mark of examinations scripts could cost between £35 and £70. This is when all parts of the examination are re-marked.

If your overall grade goes up then the payment gets wiped. Nice.

Overview for GCSE, AS-level and A-level examinations

Once you’ve spoken to your teacher or form tutor, this is what should happen next:

  • Your school or college will lodge an enquiry with the examining body. This will normally result in a re-mark or re-moderation by the awarding body
  • If you or your school or college are unhappy with the outcome of the first enquiry they can lodge a secondary appeal with the awarding body within two weeks of receiving the first outcome. The awarding body will send a report of the first enquiry to you and then take it to the awarding body’s appeals committee
  • If you’re school or college is still not satisfied with the result they can lodge an appeal with the Examinations Appeal Board (EAB). This must be done three weeks after receiving the draft report on the outcome of your appeal from the awarding body. You will be told within two weeks if your application has been accepted or not. If it’s accepted, an appeals hearing will be arranged before an EAB panel.

What about coursework?

If you’re unhappy about a coursework grade then speak to a teacher at your school or college. Coursework remarks are a bit more complicated than examination re-marks. Carolyn Adams from AQA, one of the UK’s biggest awarding bodies, says: “If you want to get your coursework unit re-marked then the examining body will have to re-moderate the whole of the school or colleges coursework. This means the student’s school or college needs to be sure they want to take it forward.”

For undergraduates

Every university has their own policy on appealing against exam and coursework results, so you’ll need to check with your student advice centre to find out more about your university’s procedures.


Next Steps

  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.


results day

By Chris Denholm

Updated on 29-Sep-2015

Picture of confused girl by Shutterstock.