My GCSE grades were not as good as I’d hoped. Can I challenge them?


Every year when GCSE results are published, a significant percentage of pupils will not have received the results they required in order to be able to progress on to further education.

If you’re one of these pupils and your GCSE grades are not good enough to enable you to study for your A-levels next year, you might be feeling very concerned about the impact your results might have on your future. Indeed, it’s easy to feel despondent if things have not gone according to plan, but it’s important not to despair. You still have options open to you.

First of all, if you feel that your GCSE results are in some way inaccurate or unfair, you should follow the official appeals procedure and make sure that your concerns are addressed.

Launching an enquiry or appeal

The first step you need to take is to speak to your teacher as any appeal or enquiry will need to go through your school. You should do this as soon as possible after receiving your results.

Your teacher will be able to advise you as to whether or not you have a realistic chance of winning any eventual appeal. If they agree with you that something is not right, they will then forward your enquiry on your behalf, to the appropriate examination board.

You may also appeal a result if you feel that circumstances beyond your control adversely affected your exam performance. For example, if there were issues in your health or family life that resulted in you being unable to study, it may be worth your while to launch what’s known as a ‘special considerations’ challenge. These challenges rely heavily on supporting evidence and again, you are advised in the first instance to speak with a teacher at your school.

What are my chances of success?

Recent changes in the law mean marks can only be changed when it is deemed that mistakes were made by the original examiner. These must be mistakes in counting or applying the marking scheme. Prior to this law change, changes could also be made if academic judgement was deemed to have been at fault. This is no longer the case, so it’s now more difficult to get a good outcome when challenging results.

Having said that, in 2015, more than 60,000 pupils had their GSCE grades altered after they launched appeals. So, if you feel you have a genuine case, it is very much worth the effort to appeal against unfair results. But you have four weeks to do so.

Whatever your decision regarding your results, make sure that you are receiving all the support you require. If you feel your school are not assisting you as vigorously as you would like, it is worth giving education law experts a call. At Match Solicitors, for example, we have a team of dedicated professionals who are highly trained and qualified to help and advise you in precisely this type of situation.


Anita Chopra is a director at education law specialists Match Solicitors and is a regular media commentator on legal issues arising in education. She has a “huge breadth of experience across all kinds of education” and “has a great instinct for cases.”