It has been a GCSE results day like no other for pupils this year. Grades have risen dramatically in England after exams were cancelled and a government U-turn meant results could be based on teachers’ estimates rather than an algorithm.
Following the uncertainty of recent weeks, many students were relieved upon receiving their results.
“I was so nervous this morning, but I just feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” says Tanisha Sethi, 16, from west London.
With mostly 7s and 8s – equivalent to As to A*s under the old grading system in England – she has the results she needs to go to sixth form, and hopes to go to university in the future.
But she thinks she could have performed better in some subjects if she had sat exams, and was disappointed when they were cancelled.
“I really wanted to prove myself and I was gutted that I didn’t get the chance to show all the effort I had put in” she says.
“I’m not going to have the practice and the knowledge and the exam technique that I would have gained from sitting GCSEs, and it will be a lot harder to make a start on A-levels.”
Jack Connor, 16, from Kent, was also feeling apprehensive after the confusion over A-level results last week.
“There was a lot of uncertainty and people were very stressed out because we had not control over it,” he says.
“Then with the U-turn the government made I didn’t know what to expect.”
But after receiving a mixture of 7s, 6s, and 5s – equivalent to As and Bs under the old system – he says he is “really pleased”.
Results day was a very different experience this year. Jack received his results online rather than going into school.
“I wanted the experience of waiting outside school and getting my grades with my teachers around me,” he says.
“Obviously we missed out on that. We missed out on lots of things – exams, prom.”
For Lucia Davis, it was also a day of mixed emotions. She is from Dinas Powys in Wales, which kept its letter-based grading structure.
She says the last few months have been difficult as pupils were “in the dark for a long time” about what would happen with their grades.
“With exams being cancelled it put all of us in a really bad mindset because our results were out of our hands,” she says.
She is also pleased with her GCSE results, receiving mostly A*s and As. But she is still waiting for her BTec result.
BTec grades were pulled on the eve of results day, after exam board Pearson said they needed to be reviewed to ensure fairness following the U-turn on A-levels and GCSEs.
“It’s a bit nerve-wracking,” says Lucia. “It added extra stress to everything that’s already gone on.”