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Are A level grades contextually adjusted?

(27 Posts)
GnomeDePlume Tue 29-Nov-16 18:13:18

Just that really

DB insists that they are and therefore unis should not make contextual offers.

Does anyone know if the A level grades awarded have been contextually adjusted?

cricketballs Tue 29-Nov-16 18:19:42

In a word - NO

Markers have no clue as to name/school/area etc so grades are grades

LIZS Tue 29-Nov-16 18:25:31


GnomeDePlume Tue 29-Nov-16 18:30:27

Thank you I didn't think they were were but DB has a habit of pronouncing on subjects as though he has special knowledge.

Are either of you in the A level system please?

GnomeDePlume Tue 29-Nov-16 18:35:23

Sorry that comes across as a fishing question. So questions are marked, marks are added up and grade awarded according to grade boundaries. There is no adjustment made to grade after marking?

LIZS Tue 29-Nov-16 18:39:37

Papers are marked anonymously. The only leeway is for exceptional circumstances such as illness.

DollyPlastic Tue 29-Nov-16 18:40:43

Nope. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, in which case a very small percentage can be added on, at the request of the school or examination centre. The very maximum for this is 5%.

titchy Tue 29-Nov-16 18:59:09

If they were adjusted you wouldn't be able to look on the exam boards' websites for the grade boundaries...

Manumission Tue 29-Nov-16 19:00:52

What's your DB's beef with contextual offers?

GnomeDePlume Tue 29-Nov-16 19:04:46

Thank you all.

It is quite possible that uni offers to DD will be contextually adjusted (under-performing school in a low participation rate area). I would like to be able to shut DB down if he starts insisting that DD has had unfair advantage.

Not sure why he gets so bothered about it, he graduated about 400 years ago!

LIZS Tue 29-Nov-16 19:13:41

But how would he know? Unis can make whatever offer they choose.

Genevieva Tue 29-Nov-16 19:21:14

Universities only make offers to students who they think are capable of completing the course they have applied for. Beyond that, if there are more applicants than places, it is up to the university to decide who they want. Your DD will deserve every offer she gets and nothing can take that away from her, including jibes about positive discrimination. I hope she gets her first choice and goes on to succeed in her degree course. Best of luck.

titchy Tue 29-Nov-16 19:34:14

Very few universities make contextual offers as it goes. Bristol do, and have a list of schools that qualify on their website (it's the A level school they look at btw, so if she moved from a low performing school to a better one there'd be no adjustment).

Shadowboy Tue 29-Nov-16 19:39:03

Not all papers are marked anonymously. Some of the papers I mark have the school/student etc on it. I've been exam marking for 10 years- depends on the exam board or the scripts suitability for scanning. All typed scripts have the school and student at the top of each page.

GnomeDePlume Tue 29-Nov-16 19:45:35

LIZS I know, you know, the cat knows but it doesnt stop him seeing conspiracies! He is still very interested in academic issues but is very much of the 'it was so much harder in my day' point of view.

Thank you Genevieva. DD is only in year 12 so a way to go yet but she has started looking at unis.

LIZS Tue 29-Nov-16 19:56:01

What i meant was, how would he know if her offer was contextual or not. If she is a good candidate a uni might make a lower grade offer than standard or even unconditional to attract her, but not necessarily contextual.

Bluntness100 Tue 29-Nov-16 20:00:33

The a level grades are not contextually adjusted, but some unis will take into account if the student had been disadvantaged , as in went to a very under performing school, or was in care. moved from abroad etc, when deciding on whether to make an offer, a lower offer, or invite to interview. This is contextual data. The thought is a high performing pupil at a poor school may have higher potential than a low performing student at a good school

All universities do it differently and use the data differently. So no your brother is wrong, kids would not be given an unfair advantage, as they have a disadvantage in the first place, they need to over achieve in a low performing school, or they need to overcome being in care, or moving from abroad etc, they also need to demonstrate their potential and it is just a data point they universities use when making a decision, not a hard rule with set criteria

As a previous poster said, they are simply looking for the students with the highest potential to succeed.

Suppermummy02 Tue 29-Nov-16 20:12:41

There is a list of the secondary schools that are eligible for contextually adjusted offers.

titchy Tue 29-Nov-16 20:14:34

No there isn't suppermummy. Most universities don't in fact make contextual offers. There is no central list to which they all refer and then adjust offers.

Shadowboy Tue 29-Nov-16 20:38:24

On our reference that we write for ever single student we do have to put the context for both their GCSE grades, for example it will state 'Bob came to us with an excellent set of 9 GCSE's from a school that was in special measures' the final paragraph explains our institution.

GnomeDePlume Tue 29-Nov-16 23:05:34

DD will be at the same school from Y7-13. School is back in SM (yet again).

There are a number of universities making contextual offers including:

- Bristol
- Warwick
- Birmingham
- Manchester

Bristol is the most upfront with their contextual offers.

LIZS, you are right. DB is in many ways a very lovely person but he does get very convinced about things. Whatever DD goes onto do she will have got there by her own efforts.

user7214743615 Tue 29-Nov-16 23:23:25

On our reference that we write for ever single student we do have to put the context for both their GCSE grades.

But on the UCAS form students need to list all education from 11-18, and contextual information about the schools appears automatically. I'm not sure why you also write this in the reference - this is unnecessary duplication.

Agree with other academics above that many universities don't make contextual offers, and a contextual offer is usually in any case only one grade lower. It is usually the case that the lower grade cannot be in the subject to be studied at university.

GnomeDePlume Wed 30-Nov-16 00:11:00

Just to be clear, DD isnt hanging her hat on a contextual offer. I was more interested in the A level thing as DB was so sure that A level grades are contextualised. I am glad that they are not as it avoids the whole 'my A levels are better than yours' thing.

HPFA Wed 30-Nov-16 06:20:43

I find the whole beef about contextual offers very irritating. The people who object to them seem to be the same ones who tell you how much better private schools are and how much better their child has done in one than they would have done in a state school. Which logically is surely making the case for contextual offers?

I don't know how well they work in practice but I just find the way people make the case against them bizaare. They seem to simultaneously argue that their child has had an advantage by going private but find it wrong of universities to try and compensate for that.

LordRothermereBlackshirtCunt Wed 30-Nov-16 06:37:09

I work at one of the universities that makes contextual offers, and I can tell you that the university wasn't keen on them either. It's taken years of pleading by admissions tutors and a change of VC to finally allow us to make such offers.

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