Cambridge Nationals are 'unitised qualifications', which means they are designed to be taken in chunks, or units, throughout the course. Marks (and unit grades) are accumulated along the way, and when all the required units have been taken, an overall grade is issued. Since exam papers can vary in difficulty from one series to the next, a common scale is used (called the uniform mark scale or UMS) to make sure marks gained on an easier paper do not advantage candidates compared with those who gain marks on a harder paper.
The grade of the overall qualification is calculated by adding together the uniform marks achieved in the individual units. This gives candidates a final uniform mark which is compared against the overall UMS grade boundaries.
For unitised qualifications, both the unit uniform marks and grades, and the final uniform mark and grade are given on the results slip.
If the candidate is absent for one of the units needed to satisfy the qualification rules, the unit will be treated as achieving zero uniform marks when calculating the certification grade. This will be shown as ‘#’ against the certification grade on results documentation.
Candidates cannot specify which units they would like to use towards an award, and ‘re-aggregating’ an award is not permitted after results have been issued.