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New Ofqual report highlights areas for improvement in exam marking

19/12/2017 Joanna

Exams regulator Ofqual has published a new review of the 2017 summer exam series, revealing that the delivery of exams this year was of a generally high standard - but also that further improvements could be made.

During a summer in which several new GCSEs and A levels were awarded for the first time, around 14.1 million scripts were generated by approximately 1.4 million candidates, with about 2,200 different GCSE, AS and A level exams taken and marked by near to 63,000 examiners.

Overall, GCSE and A level results were stable, with 99 per cent of all AS and A level grades, and 98.6 per cent of all GCSE grades, unchanged in England this year after the conclusion of reviews. Moreover, the vast majority of question papers were error-free, with degrees of variation in year-on-year results for individual schools and colleges shown to be similar to previous years.

However, the number of grades challenged increased from 346,920 last year to 369,215 this year, resulting in 88,505 qualification grades being changed - up from 63,345 grades in 2016.

This was partly attributed to a significant increase in the number of GCSE entries in certain subjects this year, but variations in some exam boards' efforts to embed the revised rules for reviews were also uncovered, suggesting that certain boards have not done enough to change old practices and adapt to the new rules.

Sally Collier, chief regulator of Ofqual, said: "We are currently looking at where more could and should be done and will consider what form of regulatory action may be appropriate. We will not require exam boards to reconsider the outcomes of the reviews they have undertaken this year, so students' awards following review will stand."

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