Appealing results... what are the chances of an upgrade?
A candidate may apply to have an exam script, or scripts, rechecked. Candidates generally take this option for one or more reasons, including if they are unhappy with the result they have received and/or if, having viewed the paper, they spot an error in how marks were awarded or totted.
Sometimes, a student is motivated because they are just a few points short of the cut-off for a preferred course and hope a recheck will make a difference. This year, with the widening of the Leaving Certificate grading bands - each band now covers 10 marks rather than five - it is likely that many candidates will sit quite comfortably within the grade awarded. As a result, even if an error is discovered, it may become more difficult to pick up enough points to climb to the next grade.
Candidates' results are presented as grades, which are derived from the total marks awarded for a paper. For example, a mark of 539 out of 600 is H2 on a higher level paper, or O2 at ordinary level. In percentage terms, that would be worth 89.83pc. It is only in viewing an exam script that a candidate sees the actual marks and can make an informed decision.
In an example such as this, where a candidate who views a script can see that they are very close to the next grade band, students would be tempted to ask that the result be rounded up. According to the State Examinations Commission (SEC), rounding up was never allowed. With the changes this year, the commission has taken the opportunity to confirm that grades are calculated solely on the basis of the marks awarded.
The SEC says the rules require that all grades be awarded in accordance with the published grading system and "no tolerances can be applied. Rounding up to the next grade band is not permissible."
In previous years, typically about 80pc of appeals did not succeed, so the challenge can be formidable and, perhaps, even more so as a result of the new grading system.
For instance, Leaving Certificate Irish (higher level) is marked out of 600, so a student seeking an upgrade would need an extra six marks for the equivalent of every 1pc they hoped to gain on appeal.
In one example, a mark of 444, out of 600, would be the equivalent of 74pc. Under the old system, another six marks - which can be difficult enough to find - would raise that to the equivalent of 75pc (450), a higher grade, that was worth five extra CAO points. Now, the same student would need to pick up 36 points to reach 480 (80pc), in order to get to the next grade and earn more points.