The release of the A-level results in Northern Ireland is always a big event, and that's usually because local schools have once again outperformed others in England and Wales.
his year, results day is hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons, as 37% of grades here have been downgraded by the examination board from the estimates provided months ago by teachers.
Instead of good news about record pass rates, there's the bad news about students falling far short of what was expected, leading many to wonder if they'll get the university places to which they've been looking forward.
This is the moment that students and teachers have been dreading ever since Education Minister Peter Weir announced in March that A and AS Levels could not proceed normally this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many predicted at the time that it would be a shambles, and they no doubt feel vindicated today.
It's worth asking, though, what they would have had instead, had they been in charge.
The authorities at the time had little choice. It would have been impossible, once schools shut and the whole country went into lockdown, for exams to go ahead according to the usual timetable, and at least ministers in the UK made an early decision to cancel A-levels to ease the pressure on students already struggling with the sudden lockdown.
It was weeks before the government in Dublin similarly accepted that a return to normality was not possible.
The uncertainty for families was unbearable.
Where those in decision-making positions do deserve criticism is not using the extra time available to iron out any glitches in the system. The standard excuse is to blame the computers which worked out all the grades according to some mindbogglingly complicated algorithm, as if that absolves examiners of responsibility for making sure that they were using the right algorithm in the circumstances and that it would produce the desired results.
This isn't an ordinary year, so some flexibility needed to be built in.
Instead they used a very blunt tool, and it's one which has punished exceptional students who just so happen to attend schools where results are traditionally lower than average.
These are the very students who need the most support and encouragement, because they don't have all the advantages of teenagers lucky enough to attend the best grammar schools. They've been badly let down.
Disappointed students do have the options of appealing their grades, or else sitting a real exam when possible; but that option won't be available to everyone, and many may not want to put their lives on hold in order to fix a problem that was not of their own making.
Why did examiners think that adding injustice on to the social disadvantage that already existed was the best solution?
To be fair to them, it should be acknowledged that only a minority of estimated grades in any given year ever match the result that the student actually achieves.
Last year, the figure was just 45.8%.
Teachers are not infallible, and nor can they read the future, but there's no point denying that they do tend to overstate how well their students will do. Just taking teachers at their word wouldn't have worked either.
Likewise, whilst there are many students who are devastated this week because their grades weren't as good as they expected, it's also only fair to point out that this always happens anyway.
Good students don't automatically perform on the day as they struggle to cope with the pressure. Every system produces winners and losers. What matters is that the number of those who are disappointed should be kept to a minimum.
The best advice for those who have been affected is not to fixate too much on the grade itself. The important thing is whether it's enough to get you where you want to go. Universities seem minded to be flexible when it comes to responding to students' individual situations, so the lower grades may be sufficient to get many onto the courses that they picked. Few people will care in five, 10 or 20 years time if they got a C when they'd hoped for an A as long as it sets them in the coming days onto their chosen path.
The problem is that this means having faith in the ability of those higher up who have power over all our lives to put right what they got wrong, and that's not easy right now.
The UK economy has not only officially gone into recession, it's suffering the worst economic downturn in the whole of Europe, with a full-blown Brexit to come in the New Year once the transition period ends.
To make matters worse, the UK also has one of the worst rates of Covid-19 deaths in the world.
It all just adds to the sense of things falling apart.
There are no easy answers, but this latest mess over A-levels does feel grimly appropriate for 2020.
Nothing else has gone right this year, so why should this?