Collecting your results Edit
Your exam centre should tell you how they will make results available. Make sure you know how this will happen.
Some will email results to you on the day they come out, while others will only post them and may require an SAE. Some require them to be collected in person, and may require written permission to release them to parents if the candidate is not present.
Some exam centres use online results services like Edexcel Results Plus, where candidates are given an PIN and can log in to obtain their results plus, sometimes, analysis of their score in relation to grade boundaries.
The date for release of results to candidates for GCSEs taken in Summer 2016 is Thursday 25 August 2016, and for A-levels and AS-levels it's Thursday 18 August 2016. See the JCQ Key Dates for results dates for other exams.
AQA has a helpful page with information about results day. It tells you about how marking works, what a statement of results might look like, and where to get more information relating to results.
What do my marks mean? Edit
Different exam boards give your marks in different ways. CIE results can be slightly more confusing than the other boards' - see below.
CIE - Understanding your results, including how they set their grade boundaries.
Edexcel - Understanding Marks and Grades - page full of information, presentation on grading and how grade boundaries are set. Edexcel IGCSE grade boundaries are given in raw marks.
Understanding CIE results Edit
On the initial results slip from your centre you may see one overall percentage. This is not your direct score from the papers, which is why it doesn't tie in to the published grade boundaries. It's something called PUM which only CIE do. The other exam boards' Uniform Marks (UMS) would be in this box.
The PUM shows whether you got, say, a high C or a low C. So A* is always 90-100% on this scale, but it's different from the raw marks. Explanation of Percentage Uniform Marks (PUM) from CIE.
How are grade boundaries set? Edit
Grade boundaries change every year to reflect the difficulty of the questions. Exam boards can be a little secretive about how they set their grade boundaries, but generally there is some combination of 'criterion marking' and 'norm referencing'. Criterion marking means that you are expected to know a certain syllabus and are marked according to how well you demonstrated this. Norm referencing means that you are ranked against other students rather than graded solely by your own performance. There is a great explanation on Criterion- Versus Norm-Referenced Testing by Huitt, W. http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/topics/measeval/crnmref.html
Usually, grade boundaries are only set after all the raw marks have been collected. The exam boards usually use some degree of norm referencing to adjust for the difficulty of the questions, on the assumption that the ability range over large numbers of students won't change much year-on-year.
Appeals, Re-marks - Enquiries About Results Edit
Enquiries about results (known as EARs) can include a review of scripts, review of marking, or requesting "access to scripts". These are all known as "post-results services". Normally you must make these enquiries via the exam centre where you sat the exam. AQA say that they will respond to enquiries about results directly from private candidates, but in practice you may well get a speedier response via the exam centre.
Access to scripts means you get a copy of the marked exam paper back so you can see where marks were lost. You can't usually get this until after any review of marking has been carried out.
Collecting your Certificates Edit
Exam certificates are usually issued by the end of October for examinations taken in the summer. The exam centre is obliged to ensure that these are kept safe until they are passed to you, so please do the centre a favour by collecting your certificates promptly! Ask the examinations officer whether you should collect the certificates or if they can be posted.
See the JCQ Key Dates document for confirmation of these dates.
Still have questions? Edit
If you've read this page but still have questions - Join the HE Exams community to get support from fellow home-educators. There is a Facebook group: Home Education UK Exams & Alternatives, and an email group, the HE Exams Yahoogroup.