Rise in number of GCSE and A-level candidates given extra marks for extenuating circumstances

The Times is reporting concerns over the rising number of candidates given extra time and additional marks in their GCSE and A levels this summer after claiming extenuating circumstances. 

The paper reports that new government figures show 284,300 requests for special arrangements were made before this year’s exams, up 5% since last year, and of these, more than a quarter of a million were approved, up 3% on last year. 

In addition, after exams had been taken, there were 568,350 requests for special consideration, up 14% from last year. Of these, 523,500 requests were approved, up 15% on last year.

The paper notes that these approvals represented just over 3% of all exams marked this summer and says the most common adjustment was to award candidates an extra 3% of the maximum mark available although it says some would have qualified for 5% more. 

It goes on to note a whole series of situations where extra marks can be claimed including a headache (1%), recovering from a broken limb (2%), a recent domestic crisis (3%), severe bodily injury (4%) and recent close family bereavement (5%).

More at: Thousands of pupils get extra marks for being ill (subscription may be required)


Clearly the principle behind awarding extra marks for extenuating circumstances is sound, but should we be concerned at the escalating numbers of requests for special arrangements?

Is there a danger the system is being abused by schools and/or candidates looking for every possible way to get extra marks?

Please give us your insights and feedback in the comments or via Twitter…


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