Results and certification

Understanding marks and grades

Get an overview of how we mark assessments and consistently award grades that fairly reflect a learner's performance.

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To ensure that our qualifications continue to receive recognition from employers and education providers, we have to demonstrate that learners of the same ability are awarded the same grade, regardless of when they completed their course. The information below explains how we do this.

Quality marking

The documents below explain the processes we have in place to ensure that learners are awarded the correct mark for externally assessed exams or internally assessed/externally moderated coursework.

There are two main ways that your work can be assessed to award a mark or grade:

Internal assessments

This usually applies to controlled assessments, coursework and projects.

Work is marked by schools and colleges. We then sample their assessment decisions to check that they have marked work accurately and consistently, to the standard set by our subject experts and outlined in the specification.

Internally assessed work is sampled through a process called 'standards verification'. Schools and colleges send our Standards Verifier the selection of learner evidence we've requested to review, along with a range of supporting documents.

Most of the time, we will agree with the assessment decisions made by the school or college and agree that certificates can be issued to learners. However, sometimes we find that the evidence provided doesn't meet the requirements of the course, so additional work will need to be completed before we can issue a certificate.

Find out more about our quality assurance processes

External assessments for BTEC (NQF)

Set tasks for Art and Design

Work is marked by schools and colleges. We then sample their assessment decisions to check that they have marked learner work accurately and consistently, to the standard set by our subject experts and outlined in the specification.

Work is sampled through a process called 'moderation'. School and colleges will send our moderator the selection of learner work we've requested to review. Most of the time, we will approve and accept the school or colleger’s marks unchanged. However, sometimes marks are reduced or raised if we judge that their marking has been too lenient or too harsh.

Paper-based exams, onscreen, on demand tests for and set task for Performing Arts

Paper-based and onscreen, on-demand tests are marked online by a team of trained examiners. The Performing Arts set task is sent to an examiner for marking.

Understanding onscreen, on demand test results


Setting grade boundaries to fairly reflect performance

We set new grade boundaries each time a new exam or assessment is completed. They indicate the minimum number of marks students need to achieve to get a particular grade.

The video below explains how we set grade boundaries to ensure that students are awarded grades that fairly reflect their performance.

What evidence do the awarding committee review?

Our experts need to balance a range of evidence when deciding where the grade boundaries should fall. This ensures that students receive a fair and consistent grade regardless of which awarding organisation they take their qualification with or when they complete their course.

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Balanced evidence image

The raw mark is the number of marks a learner achieved on an exam or assessment.

The UMS mark (Uniform Mark Scale mark) or points score is a conversion of the raw mark.

The raw mark is never shown on your results slip, so students will either see a UMS mark, a points score or no numerical mark at all.

Exams Officers can find the raw mark on the 'Component Mark List' report from Edexcel Online. If you have access to ResultsPlus or ResultsPlus Direct, you can also find the raw mark on the question paper screen.

For some of our qualifications, components can be taken at different times throughout the course. For example, some of our Edexcel A level Mathematics exams can be completed in the first or second year of study.

To make sure that any differences in the difficulty of exams or assessments are taken into account when adding up your marks to give an overall grade, we convert the ‘raw’ or exam paper mark into a UMS mark.

UMS grade boundaries are fixed so they are the same for each exam session. Raw mark grade boundaries may change for each exam session.


Points scores are used in qualifications like Edexcel Functional Skills and BTECs. They are a numerical representation of Pass, Merit and Distinction grades.

Your overall qualification grade is calculated by converting your unit grades into points scores, adding them together and comparing your total points score to the grade boundaries. 

Read more about how to calculate a BTEC qualification grade


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