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Music A Level Appeal Process


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#1 Piano Jan

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 09:35

Does anyone have inside information on how the whole A level exam marking/remarking/appeals system works?

 

It’s a long story but I’ll try to summarise.

 

Son sat his A level Music (OCR exam board) this summer. Hoped for (and was predicated) an A but got B. Turns out the Composition element (usually his strongest point by a long way) was marked down from the teacher’s A grade to a C, which pulled his overall grade down.

 

Frustratingly, his overall mark for Music was 478 … which was 2 marks short (I guess about half a percent) of an A grade. (Won’t go into details but these 2 marks have proved costly regarding university finance).

 

The school (which wasn’t the school he usually attended … he just went for after-school Music classes as his own school didn’t offer A level) – agreed to request (and pay for) a re-mark/moderation/re-moderation (not sure which ... the letter we have just describes it as a 'review'). The result came back – “Composition - previous mark 60/90 (grade C) – new mark 60/90 (grade C)”.

 

Several questions:

  1. Does the exam board have to justify marking down from teacher’s original A grade to a C? If there is written justification of this can we/the school request to see it?
     
  2. Is this 60/90 … 60/90 actually a remark or not? If it is a remark surely that’s a bit of a coincidence … bearing in mind that composition marking must be subjective. If not a remark, what have they actually done?
     
  3. If the exam board’s response to this would be that there were no grounds for a remark, could it be argued that the original marking down from A – C is grounds enough?
     
  4. I should mention that there were only 2 students in this Music class … not sure if that affects things in any way.
     
  5. I’ve read somewhere that the exam board only looks at ‘samples’ of the compositions. Is this true? (Hopefully not, as I can’t imagine how you can make a proper judgement if you only see/hear a small section of a composition).
     
  6. At the end of the letter we’ve received from OCR it says: “If you wish to appeal against this outcome, you have four weeks … ” It then provides a link for appeals which lists the grounds but - although I've tried to make sense of these - I can't really see anything that could apply. Has anyone gone this far with appealing … and – if so – any success?

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#2 Banjogirl

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 13:07

I'm afraid I don't know the answer to all your questions, but I can help with a couple of things. A remark is not actually a remark but a check of the mark awarded. If none of the grounds for appeal apply then I think that is the end of the process.

 

GCSE and A level compostition is notorious for its sometimes apparently random marking. If you look back on the music section of the TES forums you'll find lots of teachers puzzled by their pupils' marks, whether unexpectedly high or low. My own son must have got a reasonable mark for his AS composition, as he got a B overall, yet he only barely finished it, on the day he handed it in (his teacher was not best pleased!).

 

I'm sorry your son has had a bad experience. I wish the universities were a bit more savvy,  as it's no secret that A level music results can be unexpected and unpredictable.


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#3 Sautillé

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 13:58

Speaking very generally.....There are varying levels of post result inquiry and they vary from simply checking the marks were added up correctly to a full remark of one or all aspects. Start by finding out exactly what the school requested and if that is what you'd hoped for. You can also ask for a review of moderation. You can also appeal an exam board's decision. With coursework it's obviously more fuzzy because the original marking was done by the school so that can prove problematic depending on the experience of individual teachers. If you don't resolve the overall mark you can complain to the school but obviously that will not benefit your son. Start with the school and the exam board. Good luck.
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#4 Hildegard

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 17:15

Just to add a little more, in response to your Q5 ("I’ve read somewhere that the exam board only looks at ‘samples’ of the compositions. Is this true? (Hopefully not, as I can’t imagine how you can make a proper judgement if you only see/hear a small section of a composition").

 

"Samples" refers to the work of just selected candidates, not extracts from compositions.

 

In the case of centres with large numbers of candidates, the board will only want to see selected examples of the teacher's marking to ensure that it is reliable. This will be decided by the board's moderator who might typically request to see the work of the two candidates with the highest mark, the two on the lowest, and perhaps two on a Grade c borderline.

 

With regard to your Q3 ("If the exam board’s response to this would be that there were no grounds for a remark, could it be argued that the original marking down from A – C is grounds enough?").

 

I'm afraid the answer is no. It is very common for teachers to over-mark (there is considerable pressure on them to get high grades and, as a result, many over-mark).  Having to reduce the mark awarded by the teacher is very common. The board will have historic records on entries from the centre concerned, and will probably have noted that previous candidates have been over-marked before sanctioning the change of grade.

 

Note that deadlines for remarks, reviews and appeals are all very tight. I think the deadline for a review of moderation has already passed (21st September, I believe).

 

First-stage appeals have to be made within 30 days of receiving the results of an enquiry on results. In my experiece, appeals are rarely successful, even when the grounds for appeal are correct, unless something like malpractice can be shown.


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#5 Sautillé

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 19:30

I forgot to say... with a review of moderation, all the scripts from the school will have to be sent back (or at least the ones moderated). This means that in your case both candidates would have a chance of a different result (if both were moderated). Not having been down to the level of 2 scripts I can't say if a school would want to do this/risk the other child being re-marked etc
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#6 Piano Jan

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Posted 29 September 2017 - 11:10

Many thanks for these responses - much apprectiated. Husband went to see son's teacher yesterday and it was very helpful for him to have a bit more understanding before the meeting.

 

Teacher's not optimistic about the grade ever being changed. (He's had similar appeals in the past and never got anywhere). However, he is pursuing it a little further as the comments for son's composition were all glowing (except one very minor criticism) ... yet the low mark didn't reflect this.

 


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