My GCSE Results Day was, on the whole, happy. I felt very proud of myself but something kept playing on my mind – I hadn’t achieved the grade I expected in English Literature. For me, this was a big deal. Eventually, my grade went up – but it caused a lot of unnecessary stress.
If I’d had more information, then I would have worried far less. Here are some key tips which can make the process so much smoother:
- A re-mark isn’t a re-mark anymore. It’s now known as a “reconsideration of marking”. Previously, the examiner received an unannotated copy of your paper and was asked to mark it again. Now, they are given the marked paper and are only allowed to alter the grade if they feel it is definitely wrong. This has made it significantly more difficult to have a grade changed. However, re-mark is the standard term used in most resources and it is far less jargon based than its new title!
- Make sure you know the closing dates for applications. It’s useless to decide on a course of action only to discover that a week has passed since the final date to apply for a re-mark. Similarly, there’s no need to rush and regret if you have more than a few days to evaluate. Taking a little extra time could make all the difference when it comes to what exactly you apply for.
- See if you can get a free copy of your paper. On GCSE Results Day, some exam boards offer free online copies of exam papers – accessible only through teachers. If you think that your paper may have been mismarked, then taking a quick look to ensure that you didn’t forget to answer a question (or make any other colossal mistakes!) could be invaluable. It’s worth checking online before Results Day to see if your exam boards offer this; most of them have Twitter so you can reach out to clarify any doubts.
- Check the grade boundaries. If you are one mark below the grade you want, then a re-mark may seem an obvious choice. However, if you are one mark above the next grade down, it may be worth checking your paper over before getting a formal re-mark. Going down a grade would be the worst possible outcome! But, if you’re confident enough that you have been mismarked, then this may be irrelevant.
- Look at marks for other papers within the subject. If you got full marks in one paper, but half marks in another, then it may be worth getting a re-mark. It’s a clear sign that something has gone wrong – whether an examiner has missed a page or you’ve forgotten to answer a question. However, if you got middling marks over multiple papers and are a little surprised, then the fault could lie with you or how you have been taught. Remember that you have to pay per paper, not per subject or exam board.
- Consider a clerical check. In a clerical check, the marks are added up – to avoid an administrative error – but no actual re-mark takes place. It’s a good compromise if you want a (relatively) risk free alternative to a re-mark. Furthermore, you can get a re-mark after a clerical check but not the opposite way round – and, if your exam board doesn’t give free online copies of papers, you have to request some form of check in conjunction with the paper. A clerical check allows you to obtain the paper without the potential risk of a full re-mark.
- Ask your teachers (but be aware that their opinion isn’t everything). I asked three teachers when I was considering a re-mark. They all looked at the same paper for the same subject and received the same information; they had different opinions. While two insisted that I should be happy with my original grade, one told me that I should definitely try. This disparity of opinions concerned me – if teachers, the supposed experts, didn’t know what I should do, then how could I know? Although teachers can provide useful information (especially where you’ve gone wrong on a paper)
- Be aware that no news isn’t necessarily good news – but it isn’t bad news either. Not hearing anything for a week or two may not mean anything at all; your paper is probably just moving through the system. Despite what some forum sites may suggest, the speed of re-mark has nothing to do with how likely it is to be successful. In fact, it’s likely that – just as you’re forgetting about it – the email will pop up with re-mark results.
- More people are doing it than you’re aware of. Some people will keep it subtle, hardly mentioning it (no matter how much it means to them) while others will be more blatant – following every GCSE result with “but I’m getting it remarked”. Unfortunately, mostly due to the inefficiencies of exam boards and administrative failures, many students get at least one re-mark. It’s the new normal and there doesn’t need to be a stigma.