Frequently Asked Questions – A-Level and AS Results in Northern Ireland

How will A-Levels and AS be awarded?

All A-Level and AS candidates taking qualifications through the Council for the Curriculum, Qualifications and Standards (CCEA) will now be awarded the higher outcome from either the Centre Assessment Grade provided by their school or college, or the original standardised grade issued on 13 August 2020.

Will all candidates receive new results?

Yes, all candidates will receive a new statement of results from CCEA even where their outcomes remain unchanged.

What evidence did teachers use to develop Centre Assessment Grades?

Each school and college has developed a holistic professional judgement of each student’s aptitude.  A wide range of student performance data and evidence has been used to inform the development of the Centre Assessment Grades. This is likely to have included:


  • records of each student’s performance throughout their programme of study;
  • performance in any controlled assessments/coursework or other assessments required for the qualification;
  • performance in mock examinations;
  • prior attainment in GCSEs; and
  • for A level students who took AS in 2019, their AS results in that subject

Why has this been changed from the original approach?

It is essential to ensure that young people in Northern Ireland are in no way disadvantaged in comparison to their peers elsewhere.  These are unique circumstances and this approach is now being adopted by all Examination Boards across the UK.

The changes will remove as much stress and uncertainty for young people as possible and to free up school leaders and teachers to work towards the important task of schools opening.              .

Does this change affect all AS and A Levels?

The changes announced by Education Minister, Peter Weir, only apply to AS and A-Levels awarded by CCEA, which is the Northern Ireland based awarding body.

However, the Education Ministers in England and Wales have announced that they will follow a similar approach.         

When will the revised results be issued?

CCEA is working to release the revised results to candidates as quickly as possible and in line with the reissue of results by other Examination Boards in the UK.

In the interim, students will be able to access details of their Centre Assessment Grade from their school or college. 

Candidates who urgently require revised results for University Entrance should make contact with CCEA at the earliest opportunity.

I did not get on with my teacher, will this affect my grade?

Schools and colleges were given detailed advice and guidance on how to reach a judgement on Centre Assessment Grades. This included the requirement for discussions to be had between teachers and with senior teachers and lecturers to reach a shared and internally-moderated judgement and ensure fairness. Schools and Colleges have a detailed range of evidence on which to assess candidates.

Schools and colleges have been specifically advised that judgements should not be affected by a student’s behaviour (both good and poor), character, appearance or social background.

Can candidates appeal the grade given by their school or college?

If candidates are unhappy with their result, they should discuss their outcomes with their school or college in the first instance. Schools and colleges will each have an internal appeals or complaints process which they will follow.  CCEA is developing further information on appeals and this will be published on its website later this week.

What happens if I have lost my university place?       

Students who previously missed their offer and will now meet it on the basis of their centre assessment grade should get in contact with the university. Those who have accepted an offer will be able to release themselves if they have another offer reinstated.

In Northern Ireland, the Department for the Economy is working closely with the Higher Education sector to ensure young people are not disadvantaged and Universities are as flexible as possible.

Are these qualifications less valuable?

Absolutely not. We have been clear throughout this process that higher education and employers will see these as valid grades, the same as exam results in any other years.  The fact that examination bodies in England and Wales are taking a similar approach means that there will continue to be comparability with qualifications in those jurisdictions.

Why have A-Level candidates not been upgraded to their AS Award from 2019?

The AS is only forty percent of the A level qualification.  The A2 builds on the AS and is generally more challenging, so it cannot be assumed that outcomes at AS will be replicated at A2.

The Centre Assessment Grade reflects each teacher’s holistic, professional judgement of each student’s aptitude in each subject.  This takes account of how each student has progressed since they completed the AS in 2019 and is a professional assessment of what the student is most likely to have achieved if exams had gone ahead.

It is possible that a centre may have very good reasons to award a student a grade lower than the AS outcome. For the grades to be robust and reliable, it is important that this professional assessment of the student’s performance in the second year of the qualification is considered within the final result.

Will this year’s AS outcomes form part of the A-level award in 2021?

The AS award in 2020 will not form part of the A-Level award in 2021.     

What is the position in regard to Vocational and Technical Qualifications (VTQs)?

Limited statistical standardisation was used in grading these qualifications. The statistical standardisation approach that was used for A levels was not generally used for VTQs, many of which took into account controlled assessment that learners had already completed in the course of their study.

Feedback so far is that VTQ results have been largely stable and consistent with centres’ expectations. A move away from a statistical standardisation approach towards using Centre Assessment Grades alone would have limited impact as it would not change the results for the vast majority of VTQ learners.

For the small number of qualifications that have used a statistical standardisation approach similar to the model for A levels and GCSEs, OFQUAL asked awarding organisations to review their approach. This is likely to mean a small proportion of VTQ results will be reissued.

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