Meet the students of results day whose A-level grades got reduced

‘I lost my uni offer over one reduced grade’

Nobody saw it coming. For A-level students in England, this results day hasn’t been the usual mix of leaping photoshoots and huge nights out, but of confusion and unfairness.

It’s clear the system isn’t just chaotic on a large scale, with 40 per cent of grades being reduced, but disruptive on an individual level. Students who’ve made plans and put in hard work have found that counts for little against that backdrop.

What’s it like to be in that position? The Tab spoke to students whose results day hasn’t gone according to plan, and who have had to deal with the fallout of having their grades downgraded.

‘It feels like my grade was randomly decided’

Ellie had an offer for AAA to study history at Nottingham. All through her A-Levels, she’d been a straight-A student – for history, her teacher-assessed grade was an A and she got an A in her mock. However, this morning, she opened her results and found it’d been reduced to a C. She’d missed her offer and had to go into clearing.

“I was completely shocked,” Ellie told The Tab. “I knew the whole system wasn’t clear with the vagueness of the situation when it came to how it will all go down. I’m not used to failing in things like this, I normally have the opportunity to prove myself but it feels like my grade was randomly decided and not reflective at all.”

Luckily, Ellie got onto a different course at Nottingham – English and History – through clearing. She plans to appeal her grades.

Based on the new appeals system, she may end up being awarded the A grade which would’ve landed her on her original course. “I think the government, exam boards, whoever, have really failed students,” she said.

‘I lost my uni offer over a single dropped grade’

Anna was hoping to do Psychology at Liverpool, but unexpectedly had her biology marked down to a D. She ended up with BBD. Not only did this mean she missed her original BBB offer for, but it caused problems for her with clearing.

Despite predictions that unis would be “more flexible than ever before” with students who missed their offers, Anna found that the uni held firm over her BBD and wouldn’t let her onto the Environmental Science course, which wanted BBC. Instead, she’s off to York.

“What bothered me was the fact that they’d been flexible with people in previous years who had actually sat the exam but not with me despite not actually having any control over my grades,” Anna told The Tab.

“I can’t help but feel angry about the marking system. I just really hope I’m not disadvantaged when it comes to getting a job after university.”

‘I don’t feel like the system has treated me, from a working class area and predominantly working class school, fairly’

Aròn found two of his A-levels downgraded, meaning his CBA went down to a DBB. “I’m a bit gutted to be honest. I don’t feel like the system has treated me, from a working class area and predominantly working class school, fairly,” he told The Tab.

“My predicted grades submitted from my school have been altered, however,I have friends in a grammar school where the majority of them have maintained their predicted grade,” said Aròn.

Although he has an unconditional from Queen’s University Belfast, Aròn will be appealing. “I now have to put those grades on my CV when applying for jobs and don’t feel they reflect the work I put in,” he said.

“The minister must now show leadership and solve this issue before the confidence in the system is unfixable.”

‘I’ve basically wasted a year’

After getting A*s and As all year, Charlie was shocked when he opened his results and was met with Cs and Ds. Although he’s got an unconditional from Notts Trent, he retook his exams this year to improve his grades for the future.

“I’m pretty sure my results came down to the fact I was retaking and that I went with a much less reputable college this time around, he told The Tab. “My previous grade and my college’s averages seem to have been the only things actually taken in to account.”

Charlie says he’s hoping to appeal, but that his college hasn’t even been told how to appeal yet. “I could’ve gotten in to the same uni a year ago, just wanted to improve my grades this year, so I’ve basically wasted a year,” he said.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

‘It’s ridiculous’: A-Level students on the government’s mock result u-turn

How the coronavirus crisis could keep working class kids locked out of top unis

‘Unis will be more flexible than ever before’ with students who miss offer grades