External Examinations

What are Uniform Marks?

The Neill Buidling


When an examiner marks your paper, they follow a mark scheme and reward creditworthy responses according to the standard. The raw mark is the number of marks you achieved in an exam or assessment.

However, most subjects offered in Bloomfield are divided into units which candidates can take at different stages during the course and may be retaken before a final grade is awarded. For example, our pupils sit the first GCSE English Language unit at the end of Year 11 and some will re-sit the exam in November or at the end of Year 12.

The examination boards map the raw mark to a uniform mark because each exam paper is unique and the difficulty will vary slightly from series to series. This conversion from a raw to a uniform mark ensures any differences in the difficulty taken into account when adding up your marks to give an overall grade.

There will not necessarily be an obvious direct relationship between raw and uniform marks. It is also worth noting small variations in raw marks may in some circumstances lead to larger UMS differences.

Grade Boundaries

UMS grade boundaries are fixed so they are the same for each exam session. By contrast, raw mark grade boundaries may change for each exam session. You can view CCEA’s grade boundaries by clicking the following button:

Linear Subjects

In linear specifications, including AQA A Level Psychology and EDUQAS PE, students take all papers in the same exam series, so the examination boards simply scale the raw marks to comply with paper weightings in that course. Your marks are added to give a total mark for the exam as a whole. Using the grade boundaries set by the awarding committee, subject grades are then allocated.

That is why some examination boards, such as Pearson, don’t need to publish the raw marks on the candidate’s provisional statement of results.

A Worked Example

CCEA created a worked example to show why they needed to have both raw marks and uniform marks. It describes two candidates following a unit of study in different years and sitting examinations in different years. This example shows, in broad terms, why the examination boards use uniform marks and how they determine overall qualification grades.

John and Sarah both studied Government and Politics at AS level. John sits the unit 1 examination in summer 2015. Sarah sits the unit 1 examination in summer 2016. Unit 1 is marked out of 50 raw marks.

When John sits the examination in summer 2015, he scores 42 raw marks out of the possible His answer was just within the grade boundary for an A grade answer. When Sarah sits the examination in summer 2016, she scores 40 raw marks out of the possible 50. Her answer was also just within the grade boundary for an A grade answer.

John and Sarah’s answers are of the same standard but Sarah has scored a lower raw mark than John. This is normal. The raw mark that represents just within the grade boundary for an A grade answer can differ from series to series for any unit in any subject. This is because the level of difficulty in a unit of study’s examination questions can differ slightly from year to year. In the example above, Sarah’s examination was slightly more difficult than John’s was, so it was not as easy for her to score raw marks.

Even though this situation is normal, it creates a problem. John and Sarah are taking a unitised AS Government and Politics qualification. This means that they must score as many marks as they can for each unit so their final total marks are as high as possible.

Sarah has fewer marks for unit 1 than John to add to the marks she scored in her other units, even though her answer in unit 1 was the same achievement level as John’s. This would not be fair, and that is why we use the Uniform Mark Scale.

In the Uniform Mark Scale, the uniform mark that represents the standard just within the grade boundary for an A grade answer will always be same. In this example, John and Sarah will have received the same uniform mark even though their raw marks were different.

CCEA’s Provisional Statement of Results

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