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For an explanation about how new linear AS Levels work, and the way grade boundaries are calculated for these new qualifications, check out our blog, How linear qualifications and grade boundaries work.
The difficulty of AS/A Level and GCSE exam papers may vary from year to year. In order to ensure fairness and consistency across years and within subjects the raw examination marks are converted into a common scale. This scale is known as the uniform mark scale/score (UMS). It gives a fixed scale with common boundaries that are unchanged year on year and is used to make the marks compatible and comparable.
Sally and Peter both sat an A Level Humanities unit, but in different years.
There are four, equally weighted units needed to achieve the qualification. Both papers are marked out of 80 and both students score 61. But, as Sally's exam included more complex questions than Peter's, the grade boundary for achieving an A grade is set at 61. Peter's exam was relatively straightforward and the A boundary is set at 64.
Therefore, for this unit, Sally achieves an A and Peter achieves a B. Their marks are converted to UMS (out of a maximum of 80) as shown below.
Peter therefore has 61 raw marks with the A boundary for his unit set at 64. When this is converted into UMS, he has 60 uniform marks.
Sally also has 61 raw marks with the A boundary for her unit set at 61. When this is converted into UMS, she has 64 uniform marks.
The grade of the overall qualification is calculated by adding together the uniform marks achieved in the individual units. This gives candidates a final uniform mark which is compared against the overall UMS grade boundaries.
For unitised qualifications, both the unit uniform marks and grades, and the final uniform mark and grade are given on the results slip.
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