Results for different qualifications are calculated in different ways. We've provided some more information below:
If you have any queries, please speak to your exams officer. In particular, if:
You may also find our factsheets on examining explained useful.
GCSEs and A Levels are ‘linear qualifications’. This means all the assessment takes place at the end of the course. Linear qualifications are made up of a number of separate exams or non-exam assessment (coursework) called ‘components’.
The mark students get on each exam paper or non-exam assessment will be the 'component mark'. There isn't a grade for each component – just a mark. This is sometimes called a ‘raw mark'.
In most cases, we just add the component raw marks together to get the 'total mark'. For a few qualifications, some components are worth more than the others so we have to work this out first.
Each component contributes a certain percentage to the total qualification mark. In most cases, this contribution is equal – but not always. We use ‘weighting factors’ to make sure each component contributes the right amount towards the total mark. We get the total mark by multiplying the raw marks by the weighting factor and then adding these marks together.
We then check the total mark against the qualification grade boundaries to get the qualification grade. The qualification grade is the final result and what will appear on the certificate.
We know it’s useful to see how students did in each component so we also publish component grade boundaries. These show what the grade would be if we gave out grades for components. ‘Grades’ at component level don’t automatically add up to the same grade at qualification level.
Take a look at our info sheets, which show how this works in practice:
Cambridge Nationals are 'unitised qualifications', which means they are designed to be taken in chunks, or units, throughout the course. Marks (and unit grades) are accumulated along the way, and when all the required units have been taken, an overall grade is issued. Since exam papers can vary in difficulty from one series to the next, a common scale is used (called the uniform mark scale or UMS) to make sure marks gained on an easier paper do not advantage candidates compared with those who gain marks on a harder paper.
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.
Cambridge Technicals qualifications are 'unitised qualifications', which means they are designed to be taken in chunks, or units, throughout the course.
These units are either assessed via an exam or coursework which is marked by teachers and then ‘moderated’ by an OCR moderator. When all the required units have been taken, we automatically issue an overall grade.
Units are graded as Pass, Merit or Distinction. In addition, a Near-Pass grade is available for Level 3 examined units (Cambridge Technicals 2016 suite) and is reported as ‘R’. This allows a student to achieve an overall qualification without passing one or more of the externally assessed units.
You can see the grade scales for Cambridge Technicals overall qualifications on the grade scales page.
To be awarded a full qualification, a student must achieve the units required for the qualification with at least:
We assign points to each unit, based on the grade achieved and the guided learning hours (GLH) of the unit. To calculate the overall grade, we add the points from the units together and award a qualification grade based on the grade point range (boundaries) for the qualification.
If more units or guided learning hours than required for the qualification have been taken, we will only use the points from strongest optional units.
Full details of the points for each unit, the points range for the overall qualification and examples of how to calculate the overall grade can be found in Section 10 of the 2016 centre handbooks and Section 6 of the 2012 handbooks for each qualification.