UK Universities to ‘Soften’ Grade Requirements

With A Level results around the world due to be published today, and up to 40% of students predicted to have their teacher assessed grades downgraded, universities have assured UK government ministers that they will ‘soften’ their entry requirements for September 2020 entrants.
UK Universities to ‘Soften’ Grade Requirements
By Jenny Mollon
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Nervous A Level students are likely to welcome the news that university leaders have assured the UK government that they will 'soften' grade requirements for those applying to university this year.

When A Level examinations were cancelled in March, it was first planned that students would be awarded grades assessed by their teachers. As time went on, concerns grew that many teachers had taken an overly optimistic stance and significantly inflated grades, creating questions around fairness and parity with previous and future exam cohorts. It was also mooted that students who received these overly optimistic grades may not cope with a particularly challenging degree course.

As a result, OFQUAL (the UK's Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation) were drafted in to create an algorithm to moderate teacher assessed grades. In a further development, it was announced yesterday that both A Level and GCSE students would have the option to take their mock exam results, should that prove to be the better grade.

In light of these many changes and political to-ing and fro-ing, and with the Scottish government making the controversial decision to back track and revert to the original teacher assessed grades for ‘Highers’ (the Scottish A Level equivalent), university leaders are likely to be awaiting today’s results with as much trepidation as students. Despite this planned ‘softening’ of grade requirements, many universities have already begun the process of rescinding offers and placing students on waiting lists until the results are announced.

UK universities have already been asked to hold more places than is usual for clearing.  A record number of students are likely to use the clearing service this year, and students are advised to have patience with the process. Not only will demand be significantly higher, clearing may be slowed due to significant numbers of university staff still working from home as a result of the covid19 pandemic.

Appealing A Level results will be possible, however you cannot appeal your grade because your don't agree with the centre grade assessment or rank order position submitted by your school or college.  Schools can appeal on behalf of students, however it is likely to be September at the earliest before the appeals process is complete.

For more information on A Level appeals, see our how to feature HERE.  The deadline for any appeal is 17 September, 2020.

Have your A Level results or university place been impacted by these changes? Have you fared better or worse than expected as a result of the changes to how grades have been awared? We’d love to hear from you. Join the conversation on our facebook page or email

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