# Guide to the Uniform mark scale (UMS) Uniform marks in A-level and GCSE exams

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1 Guide to the Uniform mark scale (UMS) Uniform marks in A-level and GCSE exams This booklet explains why the Uniform mark scale (UMS) is necessary and how it works. It is intended for exams officers and others with a reasonable understanding of the exam system and its terminology. For more information contact a member of the Centre for Education Research and Practice (CERP) at

6 5.1. Calculating the cap in an AS unit The mark width from the A to B raw mark boundaries is doubled and added to the A boundary. For example, in Table 1 the cap is: 2 x = 73 raw marks. This raw mark is converted to the maximum uniform mark for the unit (120 in this case). Thus, in Table 1, students with 80, 79, 78, 77, 76, 75, 74 or 73 raw marks will all receive 120 uniform marks Calculating notional A* and the cap in an A2 unit (i) (ii) Where the mark width from the A raw mark boundary to the maximum is more than twice that from A to B, the A* conversion point is normally the same amount above A as B is below A. Where the mark width from the A raw mark boundary to the maximum is less than or equal to twice that from A to B, the A* conversion point is normally halfway between A and the maximum raw mark. This is rounded down, where necessary, to the nearest whole number below (eg 78 ½ is rounded to 78). (iii) The (raw mark) A* conversion point may be adjusted following a review of statistical and technical evidence. (iv) The cap is the same number of raw marks above A* as A is below A*. This is converted to the maximum uniform mark for the unit. The A* conversion point is converted to 90% of the maximum uniform mark. Examples are shown in Tables 2 (i) and (ii) and Figure 3 (i) and (ii). The raw mark boundaries are set by the ing committee, with A* calculated as explained above. The uniform mark boundaries are fixed at A: 80 % of the maximum, B: 70 %, etc. Note that in (ii) the A* conversion point is calculated to be 56 ½, and this is rounded down to 56, according to the rules described above. Table 2 A2 unit with maximum raw mark 60 and maximum uniform mark 80: two sets of typical A and B raw mark grade boundaries together with the uniform mark boundaries, the A* conversion point and the cap (i) Lowest raw mark in grade Maximum (cap) (A*) A B (ii) Lowest raw mark in grade Maximum (cap) (A*) A B Corresponding uniform mark Corresponding uniform mark 6

7 GUIDE TO THE UNIFORM MARK SCALE (UMS) Figure 3(i) (illustrating Table 2(i)) Uniform B A Raw cap A* (same number of raw marks above A as B is below A, converted to 90% of the max uniform mark) Figure 3(ii) (illustrating Table 2(ii)) Uniform A* (halfway between A and the maximum raw mark rounded down, converted to 90% of the max uniform mark) B Raw A cap 7

8 5.3. Calculating notional N in an AS or A2 unit The mark width from the D to E raw mark boundaries is subtracted from the E boundary. For example, in Table 1 notional N is 37-6 = 31 raw marks. This raw mark is converted to the appropriate uniform mark (36 in Table 1) Calculating A* and the cap in an untiered or Higher tier GCSE unit The A* boundary in GCSE units is calculated as follows (the same procedure as that used for A2 units in A-level): (i) Where the mark width from the A raw mark boundary to the maximum is more than twice that from A to B, the A* boundary is the same amount above A as B is below A. (ii) Where the mark width from the A raw mark boundary to the maximum is less than or equal to twice the mark width from A to B, the A* boundary is halfway between A and the maximum. This is rounded down, where necessary, to the nearest whole number below (eg 78 ½ is rounded to 78). (iii) The (raw mark) A* boundary may be adjusted following a review of statistical and technical evidence. (iv) The cap is the same number of raw marks above A* as A is below A*. This is converted to the maximum uniform mark for the unit. The A* boundary is converted to 90% of the maximum uniform mark Calculating the cap in a Foundation tier GCSE unit The cap is the same number of raw marks above C as D is below C. This is converted to the maximum uniform mark for the Foundation tier of the unit (equivalent to the top of grade C) Calculating grade D in a Higher tier GCSE unit To ensure that raw marks have the same value just above and just below the grade C boundary, the Higher tier GCSE grade D raw mark boundary is calculated arithmetically, as follows. Where the mark width from the C raw mark boundary to zero is greater than or equal to twice that from B to C, the D boundary is normally the same amount below C as B is above C. Where the mark width from the C raw mark boundary to zero is less than twice that from B to C, the D boundary is normally halfway between the C boundary and zero Calculating notional N (allowed E) in a Higher tier GCSE unit Half of the number of raw marks between C and D is subtracted from D. This raw mark is notional N (allowed E). It is converted to the uniform mark halfway between D and E 5. 4 Rounding is always carried out in students favour. This means that a calculated D boundary of 16½ (for example) is rounded to Rounding is always carried out in students favour. This means rounding down for raw marks and rounding up for uniform marks. For example, if the C and D raw mark boundaries are 37 and 30 respectively, the N (or allowed E) boundary is 30 ½ x 7 = 26½, which is rounded to 26. If the D and E uniform mark boundaries are 55 and 44 respectively, the N boundary is 55 ½ x 11 = 49½ which is rounded to 50. 8

9 GUIDE TO THE UNIFORM MARK SCALE (UMS) 5.8 Example (Higher tier GCSE) Tables 3(i) and (ii) show two sets of boundaries for a Higher tier GCSE unit with maximum raw mark 60 and maximum uniform mark 90. The A and C boundaries are set by the ing committee and B is placed halfway between A and C. In Table 3(i) A* is calculated using the procedure in Section 5.4(i) as the mark width from A to the maximum is more than twice the mark width from A to B. In Table 3(ii) A* is calculated using the procedure in Section 5.4(ii) as the mark width from A to the maximum is less than twice the mark width from A to B. In both tables D is calculated as a raw mark of 28 and notional N (allowed E) is calculated as a raw mark of 25. Uniform mark boundaries are fixed at A*: 90% of the maximum, A: 80%, B: 70% etc. Notional N is a uniform mark of 40½, which is rounded up to 41. Uniform marks between the grade boundaries are calculated in the usual way (see Section 3). For example: a student who scores 36 (exactly one third of the amount from 34 to 40) will receive a uniform mark of 57 (one third of the amount from 54 to 63) a student who scores 20 (four fifths of the amount from 0 to 25) will receive a uniform mark of 33 (four fifths of the amount from 0 to 41 rounded to the nearest whole number) in Table 3(i) students who score 60, 59 or 58 will all receive a uniform mark of 90. Table 3 GCSE Higher tier unit with maximum raw mark 60 and maximum uniform mark 90: two sets of typical raw mark grade boundaries with uniform mark boundaries, N (or allowed E) and the cap (i) Lowest raw mark in grade Corresponding uniform mark (ii) Lowest raw mark in grade Maximum Maximum (cap) (cap) (A*) (A*) A A B B C C D D (N) (N) Corresponding uniform mark 9

10 5.9. Example (Foundation tier GCSE) Table 4 shows boundaries for a Foundation Tier GCSE unit with maximum raw mark 60 and maximum uniform mark for the unit overall 90 (the same as in Table 3). As in Table 3, the raw mark boundaries are set by the ing committee. The maximum uniform mark for the Foundation tier corresponds to a top grade C. Referring to the uniform mark column of Table 3, a top grade C is 62 uniform marks. The cap calculation method is explained in Section 5.5. Uniform marks between the grade boundaries are calculated in the usual way (see Section 3). For example: a student who scores 44 (exactly halfway from 40 to 48) will receive a uniform mark of 50 (= 49.5 rounded up) students who score 60, 59, 58, 57 or 56 will all receive a uniform mark of 62. Table 4 GCSE Foundation tier unit with maximum raw mark 60 and maximum uniform mark 62 (see text): typical raw mark grade boundaries with uniform mark boundaries and the cap Lowest raw mark in grade Maximum (cap) C D E F G Corresponding uniform mark 6. Raw and scaled marks In the results documentation, students scaled marks (sometimes abbreviated to sca ) are listed for each unit or component. For most specifications, scaled marks are the same as raw marks. They may be different in the small number of specifications where a unit is divided into two (or more) components. For example, if Component 1 is marked out of 30, Component 2 is marked out of 60 and each is intended to account for 50% of the assessment of a unit, students marks for Component 1 must be multiplied by two before being added to the marks for Component 2. Thus, a Component 1 raw mark of 24 out of 30 becomes a scaled mark of 48 out of 60. For Component 2, no scaling is needed, so scaled marks are the same as raw marks. Students total marks for the unit are subsequently converted to uniform marks. In specifications which use uniform marks, scaling as described above may be needed in the few cases where a unit is divided into two components. 10

12 Table A2 Four unit A-level Grade boundaries in terms of uniform marks according to weighting of unit Weighting as % of total AS assessment Weighting as % of total Advanced assessment 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% AS subject Max uniform mark A B C D E (N) Advanced subject In the A-level subject qualification, grade A* is ed to students achieving grade A overall (ie at least 320 uniform marks) and 90% or more of the maximum uniform mark (ie at least 180 uniform marks) on the aggregate of the two A2 units. Table A3 Two unit A-level Grade boundaries in terms of uniform marks according to weighting of unit Weighting as % of total AS assessment Weighting as % of total Advanced assessment 100% 50% AS subject Advanced subject Max uniform mark A B C D E (N) In the A-level subject qualification, grade A* is ed to students achieving grade A overall (ie at least 160 uniform marks) and 90% or more of the maximum uniform mark (ie at least 90 uniform marks) on the A2 unit. 12

13 GUIDE TO THE UNIFORM MARK SCALE (UMS) Table A4 Applied A-level (continues on next page) Each unit accounts for: 33.3% of the assessment for AS single 16.7% of the assessment for AS double 16.7% of the assessment for Advanced single 8.3% of the assessment for Advanced double. Max uniform mark 100 A 80 B 70 C 60 D 50 E 40 (N) 30 Grade boundaries for each unit in terms of uniform marks Grade boundaries for single in terms of uniform marks AS Advanced Max uniform mark A B C D E In the A-level subject qualification, grade A* is ed to students achieving grade A overall (ie at least 480 uniform marks) and 90% or more of the maximum uniform mark (ie at least 270 uniform marks) on the aggregate of the three A2 units. 13

15 GUIDE TO THE UNIFORM MARK SCALE (UMS) Table A5 GCSE Science A Route 1 (4405) Grade boundaries in terms of uniform marks Each written unit (Foundation tier) Each written unit (Higher tier) Controlled assessment GCSE Weighting 25% 25% 25% 100% Max uniform mark A* A B C D (N) E F G Table A6 GCSE Science A Route 2 (4406) Grade boundaries in terms of uniform marks SCA1FP (Foundation tier) SCA1HP (Higher tier) SCA2FP (Foundation tier) SCA2HP (Higher tier) Controlled assessment GCSE Weighting 35% 35% 40% 40% 25% 100% Max uniform mark A* A B C D (N) E F G

16 Table A7 GCSE Additional Science Route 1 (4408) Grade boundaries in terms of uniform marks Each written unit (Foundation tier) Each written unit (Higher tier) Controlled assessment GCSE Weighting 25% 25% 25% 100% Max uniform mark A* A B C D (N) E F G Table A8 GCSE Additional Science A Route 2 (4409) Grade boundaries in terms of uniform marks AS1FP (Foundation tier) AS1HP (Higher tier) AS2FP (Foundation tier) AS2HP (Higher tier) Controlled assessment GCSE Weighting 35% 35% 40% 40% 25% 100% Max uniform mark A* A B C D (N) E F G

17 GUIDE TO THE UNIFORM MARK SCALE (UMS) Table A9 Each separate science: Biology (4401), Chemistry (4402), Physics (4403) Grade boundaries in terms of uniform marks Each written unit (Foundation tier) Each written unit (Higher tier) Controlled assessment GCSE Weighting 25% 25% 25% 100% Max uniform mark A* A B C D (N) E F G

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