GCSE A level report 2020 ofqual

An Evaluation of the difference of Centre Assessment Grades From Summer 2020

ofqual exams

Although there was an overall increase in GCSE and A Level grades in 2020. According to Ofqual's report the majority of the relationships between grades and centre and candidate characteristics were pretty stable between previous years and 2020.

Here is the full report:


Here at the Exam House we felt there would be a stark rise in grade inflation. I think we need to see this further in years to come.

This Ofqual report looks at the use of CAGs from last year.

It led to large rises in grades. The majority 2/3rds of exam candidates having at least one of their A-level results upgraded.

The regulator’s report look at the source data and which students were impacted.

Ofqual found last year’s GCSE and A-level CAGs were on average about half a grade higher than those in previous years.

The majority of relationships between grades and other characteristics – such as subject and school - no “substantially changed”.

So although the CAGS were higher than years before they “did not introduce any substantial bias or different patterns of grading”.

Male and Female A level differences :

The A-level, there was one statistically significant difference in the narrowing of the gap between male and female exam A level candidates.

Ofqual said the as usual strongest predictor of grade outcomes by far was a GCSE or A Level exam candidate's prior attainment.

This relationship slightly stronger in 2020 compared to previous years.

This could be because of teachers’ reliance on prior attainment as a source of their data and not sufficiently taking into account individual exam candidate differences in performance.

What it does show is CAGs factoring out unpredictable variations. - Variations that are particularly key for boys. Including and especially ,/exam anxiety and last minute revision seen in normal years.

There was also evidence that at the top there was a plateauing of the link with prior attainment. I.e They just replicated the past.

Exam Candidates with the highest prior attainment received on average slightly smaller increases in grades, compared to previous years, as they were already achieving the highest grades possible.

They had already maxed out.

It meant that schools with more low prior attainment pupils saw the largest increase in grades as they inevitably had a greater head room.

The report stated there was evidence at both GCSE and A-level that subjects with more non-exam assessment had the biggest increases in 2020 grades.

like drama, music or dance. Ofqual believes this could be because of teachers using coursework GCSE and A level grades to their best performance as the average.

Independent GCSE and A level exam centres had amongst the greatest increase in mean grades awarded in 2020.

Particularly towards the top of the grade distribution for GCSEs and A-levels.

There was also evidence that grammar schools’ outcomes increased more than mainstream secondaries at GCSE.

While it was opposite at A-level. Sixth form colleges awarded relatively lower grades, particularly at grade C.

The broad conclusions are:

  • There was an overall increase in GCSE and A Level grades in 2020. However, the majority of key centre grades and centre and candidate characteristics were remarkably stable between previous years and 2020. - Our prediction was there would be grade inflation!