July/August 2022 – Preparing for restricted release of results

 

In this month’s blog, Jugjit Chima, considers the tasks an exams officer will need to undertake on the day prior to results day(s) – known as restricted release day – to ensure a successful results day.

 

If you are new to the exam officer role, you will know that you have a significant role to play in issuing results to candidates, however, you may be unaware of the tasks which must be taken to ensure that GCE and/or GCSE results days run smoothly. Below are some of the key tasks which exams officers will need to undertake on the day when results are released to centres.

 

Accessing results

The key task on restricted release day is to access candidates’ results. New exams officers, in particular, will need to Identify how this information will be accessed. Most awarding bodies do not normally provide hard copy of candidates’ results, therefore, you will need to be aware of the electronic process for accessing results.

Exams officers should also be aware of the JCQ guidance and information published via its Notice to Centres, release of results .

Once restricted results information has been obtained, it is confidential and must be kept securely until it is issued to candidates the following day.

The method of accessing results information will depend upon how entries were made. If the centre’s management information system (MIS) was utilised, results can be accessed by electronic data interchange (EDI). This involves the awarding bodies sending result files to a centre via A2C and allowing centres to download [1] /import result files into their MIS. New exams officers may require support and guidance from their MIS provider in terms of preparing to download results.

As results information must be kept secure until the following day, exams officers (as the administrators) may have to place a temporary restriction (embargo) within their MIS to prevent unauthorised access to results information by other centre staff.

Centres which do not utilise a MIS facility (this is common in smaller centres, in particular those catering for candidates with special needs/behavioural issues) are able to access results information by logging in to awarding body secure extranet sites.

Regardless of the platform used, exams officers should work with their IT staff and MIS provider (where appropriate) to ensure systems are working and accessible when they need to be. It is also advisable to check login details, such as username and password, to access each secure site.

It should be noted that the results issued are provisional as they could be subject to amendment after a review of results. Results are confirmed via the issuing of certificates (which for GCE/GCSE is normally by early November).

 

Understanding and interpreting results

In addition to the candidate’s results, awarding bodies will also provide information which supports the understanding of results (marks and grades). Although generic information will be provided on the awarding body’s public website, centre specific results information will normally be provided on the awarding body’s secure extranet site.

Consequently, all exams officers will need to consult awarding body websites to access the relevant results reports and to determine what is available when.

It is important that exams officers understand the structure of qualifications to ensure that all relevant tasks relating to the issuing of results are completed as required on restricted release day.

 

Unitised qualifications
For unitised qualifications, as entries are normally made at unit level and a subject award (certification entry) entered in the terminal/final exam series, results are normally provided to candidates as an overall grade for the qualification against the subject award and a Uniform Mark Scale (UMS) mark/score and grade is provided against each unit (awarding bodies provide information on their websites about UMS marks).

Grade boundaries are also normally published at unit and qualification level.

 

Linear qualifications
For linear qualifications, as entries are normally made at qualification level, results may only be provided as an overall subject mark and grade against the qualification. Component marks [2] for candidates are provided on the awarding body secure extranet site.

Grade boundaries may only be published at qualification level.

 

Qualifications with a Registration/Qualification entry

For qualifications such as BTECs and Cambridge Technicals, a registration or qualification entry will have been made at the start of or early in the course with externally assessed units having been entered during the course for the required exam series. Unit results will be issued on scheduled results days for the relevant exam series.

Results information will include the grade, and where applicable, the mark for each unit. Once all the required units have been assessed, marks from externally assessed unit and internally assessed unit marks are combined to provide an overall grade for the qualification at the end of the course.

If you need to acquire overall qualification grades in your MIS, you will need to have requested and imported results entry basedata and created a results request entry file for BTECs or imported summer basedata for Cambridge Technicals.

 

Candidate statement of results

Exams officers will also need to identify how statements of results will be prepared for issue to candidates on results days.

If a MIS facility is used at your centre, once results data has been downloaded (or transported) the system should provide a candidate statement of results report (or a similarly named report) which can be printed out.

Alternatively, if there is no MIS facility at your centre, candidate statements of results can be printed from the relevant awarding body’s secure extranet site.

 

Analysis of results

Depending on your role you may be involved in the analysis of results within your centre. If your role includes involvement in data analysis, confirm the type of analysis which is required, for whom and by when.

New exams officers should confirm their involvement, and expectations from senior leaders/line manager, well ahead of restricted release of results day(s). If you do have a role to play, and your centre utilises a MIS facility, identify the analysis tools available within the system to support you in this task.

 

Conclusion

It is imperative therefore that all exams officers are aware of the key tasks which must be undertaken during restricted release day(s), the regulations over the sharing of results with staff and candidates prior to results day(s), and confirmation of any involvement in centre-wide and subject data-related tasks once results are known.

[1] If a centre’s MIS and the relevant awarding body’s system is A2C compliant, results will be provided via the transport integrated in the A2C system by an automated ‘polling’ service; the term ‘download’ is currently relevant to centres using electronic data interchange (EDI) via the A2C Transport Application.

 

[2] JCQ awarding organisations are now providing new results files which will contain component marks and overall qualification marks (in addition to qualification grades) for linear qualifications such as GCSEs, AS and A Levels. This XML solution has been implemented by AQA, OCR, Pearson and WJEC. CCEA currently are not issuing XML results files as all results information for their qualifications are provided within the EDI files and their E-Results. The XML results files will be issued via the A2C Transport application at the same time as the EDI files and can be imported into your MIS.

2021/22 Exams blog archive

All views and opinions expressed in Blogs are the authors own

The Exams Office takes no responsibility for any outcomes in centres as a result of the information provided on our website or within our documentation. It is the responsibility of centres to apply this information as they deem necessary within their own centre. You should always contact/refer to the relevant awarding body for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding their qualifications.