Figures released by Ofqual in its annual statistical report on Enquiries About Results (EARs) show that despite an increase in the number of EARs received by exam boards in 2015, they were resolved at a faster rate.
OCR’s focus on turning around EARs more quickly this summer paid off with priority A Level EARs reviewed in just 2.3 days, which helped to bring the industry figure on priority A Level EARs down to just over 5 days. A substantial reduction was also achieved for turnaround times on GCSEs.
Ofqual’s data for 2015 shows the continuing upward trend in individual enquiries (from 451,000 in 2014 to 572,350 this year). However there was a slight decrease in the number of grades challenged. The number of qualification grade changes as a result of EARs was 1.1% of all grades awarded. Of all the GCSE grades involved in EARs, 38% were originally at grade D. At A Level, 30% involved grade B and 29% were grade C.
A statement issued by the Joint Council for Qualifications on behalf of the major exam boards outlines the scale of exam marking - 8 million grades awarded and 15 million scripts marked in 2015 - and that many grade changes happen when a student is very close to a grade boundary and is awarded a mark or two extra by a second examiner. This is often "a reflection of very slight differences in examiners’ judgement, rather than poor marking. The examination system is huge and complex. It involves over 50,000 examiners marking over 15 million scripts. In a system of this scale, some genuine errors, for example where there are significant mark and grade changes, are inevitable. Exam boards understand the impact these have on students, schools and colleges, and there is much they can and are doing to reduce them as much as possible."
Alongside the report on 2015 EARs, Ofqual announced a new consultation on the EAR process to ensure the service provided by exam boards continues to improve.
Ofqual also published a statistical report on malpractice today showing a reduction in the number of penalties issued to individual candidates, but an increase in penalties issued to staff, and to schools and colleges.