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A-level results day: £123k spent by Northern Ireland parents to get exam papers remarked

By Rebecca Black

Parents of students in Northern Ireland spent a six-figure sum last year challenging the grades they were given following their A-level and GCSE exams, it can be revealed.

As thousands prepare to receive their A-level results, we can reveal that more and more students are paying to have their examinations remarked every year in hopes of improving their grade.

In 2014 the Council for the Curriculum Examinations and Assessment (CCEA), which sets A-level examinations in Northern Ireland, received 7,142 inquiries to either have their papers rechecked or remarked. This figure was up from 6,855 in 2013, and 6,222 in 2012.

There are different options for challenging a grade ranging from a clerical recheck, a review of marking and a remoderation of the school's or college's internal assessment. The most popular by far was a review of the marking.

The price of having exams reviewed this year will range from £8.50 for a clerical recheck to £24.30 for a remark and £131.35 for a remoderation.

A conservative estimate of the total amount on reviews spent by students who took the CCEA exams-who are mostly from Northern Ireland - is £123,740. However, some students from Northern Ireland sit exams set by other boards from across the UK.

The most popular mark for remarking requests was a B grade (31%), followed by a C grade (28%) and A grades (9%). Some people who had been awarded an A* grade had also requested remarking.

UK-wide, the number of individual inquiries rose by 48% from 304,400 in 2013 to 451,000 in 2014 - and is expected to rise again further this year.

In total 77,400 grades were changed as a result of remarking across the UK in 2014. This works out at around 18% of challenges, which is up from 16.5% in 2013 but in line with 18% in 2012.

Most changes were for higher marks, although some received lower marks following the remarking process.

Chairman of Stormont's education committee Peter Weir said the statistics were symptomatic of the tough competition for university courses and places.

"This is a by-product of a culture where people are tending to challenge authority more," the DUP MLA said.

"Whereas going back, people would have been more content to accept their grades.

"It is also a symptom of the fierce competition for people trying to get on the best course at the best university so people are pushing to get the best possible grade, and increasingly taking it to the next level of challenging their given grades."

Mr Weir wished all those waiting for A-level results and GCSE results today good luck.

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