Alsager School

Guide to Exams


GCSE Grades are Changing

GCSEs in England are being reformed and will be graded with a new scale from 9 to 1, with 9 being the highest grade. English literature, English language and maths will be the first subjects to be graded in this way from August 2017. The subjects with the highest numbers of candidates (e.g. arts, humanities, languages) will follow in 2018 and most others in 2019. This is happening as GCSEs are being reformed to make them more challenging, to keep pace with employers’ and universities demands.

In the first year each new GCSE subject is introduced, students who would have got a grade C or better will get a grade 4 or better. Students who would have got a Grade A or better will get a 7 or better in the first year. Grade 9 will be more difficult to achieve than a grade A*. The extra top grade will also make it easier for employers and universities to distinguish between the most able students.

Download additional information about the new grading system.


Before the Exams


Several months before you sit your exams your teachers will tell the exams office staff which exams to enter you for and entries will be submitted to the Awarding Bodies (ABs) by their deadlines. You will receive an Individual Candidate Time Table showing which exams you have been entered for and giving the dates and whether an exam is in the morning or afternoon. It is your responsibility to check this carefully. If you have any questions or concerns about your exam entries or if any of your personal information is wrong you must speak to your subject teacher and the Exams Officer immediately.


On your Time Table some exams may be scheduled to take place at the same time. Don’t worry clashes will be resolved by the Exams Officer. Just make sure you check your individual time table when you receive it. Usually you will sit clash papers one after the other, sometimes with a supervised break in between, depending on the length of the exams.

Time tables

Closer to the exam season you will receive another individual time table which will contain your room & seating arrangements. This confirms your personal details and exams entries, including any amendments made since the original entries. An amendment is a change to your entry such as a change of tier between higher and foundation. Your individual time table will tell you:

  • The details of each exam including the paper code and how long the exam lasts.
  • The date of the exam.
  • The time the exam will start.
  • The room and seat number

Candidate Number

You have been allocated a 4-digit exam candidate number which will be on your individual time table. You must try to learn it. This number is unique to you throughout your time at Alsager School and is used to identify you for all your exams. You will normally be seated in candidate number order and you will need to write the number on all your exam scripts.

Centre Number 40601

JCQ Information for Candidates Documents You must read the JCQ documents on the school website exams page. They explain the rules you must follow whilst doing coursework/controlled assessments and when sitting exams. Equipment Check that you have all the equipment you will need for your exams. Always bring at least 2 black pens and a pencil. Check with your teachers if you will need other equipment such as calculators. School cannot guarantee to supply replacement equipment and you must never try to borrow equipment from other candidates during an exam.

On Exam Day

  • Make sure you are outside your exam room at least 10 minutes before the scheduled start time on your timetable.
  • Check the seating plan outside the room to make sure there are no last minute changes.
  • Bring all your equipment in a transparent pencil case or clear plastic bag.
  • If you bring a drink, make sure it is in a clear plastic bottle with any labels removed.
  • Do not bring mobile phones, iPods, mp3 players or headphones into the exam room. If you forget, make sure they are turned off and handed to an invigilator before the exam starts. ABs deal very severely with candidates who ignore the regulations. Misconduct may lead to loss of all marks for a paper and ultimately the AB could decide not to award you a grade.
  • Make sure you sit in the correct seat.
  • If you are too ill to attend an exam your parent/carer must inform school before 8.45 am on the day. If you fail to attend without a valid reason you may be charged for your entry fee.
  • If you are delayed try to contact school. Students who arrive very late may still be allowed to sit the exam but a report must be sent to the AB and they could refuse to accept your work.

During the Exam


The school employs external invigilators to conduct examinations. You must behave in a respectful manner towards invigilators and follow their instructions at all times. Their main role is to ensure that the AB procedures are followed and if they suspect that you are breaking any of the regulations they must inform the Exams Officer. Invigilators cannot read any words printed on the question papers for you, other than the instructions on the front cover. They cannot offer advice on which questions to answer or explain questions to you. If you need assistance, e.g. if you need more paper or if you feel ill, raise your hand and wait for an invigilator to come to you. Never try to communicate with other candidates in the exam room.

  • Check you have the correct paper, especially if there are higher and foundation tiers.
  • Read the instructions carefully before you start to answer the questions.
  • Don’t use eraser pens, brightly coloured pens or highlighters within your answers.
  • Make sure you put your candidate number and name on all the answer sheets you use.

Leaving the exam room

Under normal circumstances you will not be permitted to leave the room until the end of the exam when the senior invigilator dismisses you. If you finish early, use the time to check your answers. Remember you are still under exam conditions until you have left the room.

After the Exam


Dates for the publication of provisional results can be found on the school website exams page. Results will only be issued to the student to whom they belong. If you are unable to collect your own results a relative or friend may collect them on your behalf but only if they bring to school a letter signed by you giving them permission to collect your results. Results will not be given out over the telephone under any circumstances. You should keep your provisional results slips until you have received your certificates.

Enquiries about Results (EaR’s)

If you have any concerns about your results or want to see a copy of your marked script you should discuss this with subject teachers in the first instance. There are various options available and deadlines are tight so you must act quickly once you have your results. EaRs can only be submitted by the school and you will have to sign a consent form before the exams officer can process your request. Fees and forms are available from the Exams Officer on request.


Certificates are stored securely in school. If you are unable to collect your certificates in person they can be collected from the exams office. A relative or friend can collect them for you, but only if they bring to school a letter signed by you giving them your permission.

Exam Glossary

UCI & ULN: Unique Candidate Identifier and Unique Learner Number. Numbers used by the ABs to identify individual learners and store information on all their entries and results.

Cash-In Code: Also called aggregation or certification. When final entries are made for a subject, entry for a cash-in code is also made which draws together the individual units for your qualification to give you an overall grade. The highest mark is used.

Special Consideration: sometimes adverse circumstances just before or during exams can affect your performance. ABs do make allowances in certain situations such as illness or bereavement, providing the school has appropriate supporting evidence. Speak to your Exams Officer as soon as possible if you think this may apply to you.

Access Arrangements: some candidates qualify for slightly different exam arrangements (e.g. extra time, word processor, reader, modified papers). Applications for access arrangements must be made by the school well in advance of exam series and require appropriate evidence of need. Temporary arrangements can also be made in emergency situations, e.g. a hand injury that prevents you from writing where you may need a scribe to record your answers.