Andy Brunning – Chemistry Subject Advisor
The results day experience for students last summer was very different due to the pandemic, and this year’s results day will be different again. If you’re a student receiving results this year, you might not be sure what to expect. We spoke to five students – two who received results last year and three awaiting results this year – to hear what the assessment and results day experience has been like for them.
Tom (received GCSE results last year): It was tough to keep motivated, and when learning online, it’s really hard to keep concentrating. I know my school was a lot better than some though, so I don’t feel like I should complain. I struggled to stay positive and really missed my friends while in lockdown. While it was great having my family around, it’s not the same as what I would normally be doing.
George (receiving GCSE results this year): At the beginning, it was hard. I did get into a rhythm, as the assessments went on it started to get easier. We kept doing sports most days and I also do a lot of music so that was a good break from the studying.
Sofia (receiving A Level results this year):I started to feel less and less focused with lockdown being so long. Motivation to study was waning about mid-way through, but I wanted to get good grades so I stuck to my routine and participated in all online lessons. Initially, I thought it was great not having to travel to school by bus, but as lockdown continued I started missing my friends and school life.
Tom: I received my GCSE results in an email from the school. I got the grades I needed to progress to A Levels at the school I’m in, though my maths score was a bit low due to a bad mock exam in maths in the previous year. I worked with the school to come up with a plan to get my maths results back on track.
Kaura (received GCSE results last year): My GCSE results day was better than expected, particularly after seeing what happened with the A Level results. I felt more comfortable with the centre assessed grades as I know I would have done worse in the exam room.
Amara (receiving GCSE results this year): I’ll be online early in the morning to keep a look out for my results through my school’s portal, which our parents can also access on the day. I also want to celebrate my achievements with my family and exchange any good news with my friends. I feel excited but also slightly nervous as we get closer.
Tom: I got a call from my tutor, but there was much more talk about grades when we got back to school in September. For me, that was mostly about what needed to be done to improve my maths result.
Kaura: We were told how to appeal if our results weren’t what we hoped for, and what to do if we wanted to resit. That was very helpful as nothing was finalised until you were happy.
Amara: Our teachers will issue our results through our school’s online portal, and after that they will be online to support us with any queries we might have. My new college will also be providing support services to help me enrol for my A Levels.
Tom: We had the option to resit, but the grades I got meant I could do the subjects I wanted, so having the option to change my GCSE grades wasn’t really relevant to me.
Amara: I would consider an appeal and would seek support from the college I plan to attend on my options.
Tom: I felt a bit cheated not having the opportunity to sit exams. As it was, things just stopped for us when the government announced the first lockdown – though my school got online lessons going pretty quickly and we moved straight on to A Level work. I do think that, if I had the opportunity to sit exams I would have scored much more evenly in all of my subjects.
Kaura: I think that if I had sat normal exams my results would be lower, as I struggle significantly under exam pressure.
Amara: I am happy not to have sat formal exams on this occasion as I feel my performance would have been impacted by the constant disruption, lost learning, and the stressful experience of learning caused by COVID. I have put a lot of effort into making up the learning time, and I feel confident that my teacher assessed grades will be a good reflection of my effort and level of performance during the course compared to sitting exams.
George: Even though we didn’t sit formal exams it was pretty hard work. I think we had way more assessments than we would have if it had been a normal year – six weeks’ worth, with something every day! I don’t think not sitting formal exams made a big difference, though. If anything, it was slightly easier, as I could prepare in advance for what was coming up.
Sofia: I found it less stressful as it was not sat in a huge hall! All the assessments and topic tests took place in the classroom and many of my classmates and I felt more at ease. I felt a little nervous at times as a I knew all tests would count towards my final grade, but generally it was a less stressful experience.
Most of the time we were warned about upcoming tests, but there were occasions where they just happened, and I wondered if I did my best. There were some sections of the specifications that were not covered, and perhaps those could have been my strong points and I could have achieved better grades.
Tom: I’ll hopefully be sitting A Level exams next year. I do feel pretty well-prepared so far, but I know we’ll need to do a lot more practice as my cohort hasn’t done exams in the normal way.
Kaura: I was really pleased with my grades and they helped me feel happier about my A Level subjects. I was concerned about the increase in workload but my school prepared me for that thoroughly.
Amara: I am excited about taking A Levels. I hope it is a better experience for us and we don’t have to worry about disruption due to COVID. I am also feeling confident that my new college will support me with my education.
We hope that hearing these experiences helps you prepare for your own results day, whatever it looks like. We hope, too, that you get the results that you want – but don’t miss our other recent results day blog, which has some tips on what to do if you don’t do as well as you hoped.
You can follow us on Twitter at @ocrexams. You can also sign up to subject updates to receive information about resources and support.
Andy joined OCR in September 2017 as the subject advisor for A Level Chemistry. He has a Chemistry BSc and a Secondary Science PGCE from the University of Bath. Before joining OCR, he worked as a chemistry teacher in Bournemouth and Cambridge. He also sidelines as a science communicator and has produced infographic projects for the Royal Society of Chemistry and the American Chemical Society.