Students across the UK have taken to social media, particularly TikTok, to share their GCSE exam results, highlighting the stark contrast between their predicted grades and their actual marks. This trend emerged amid a wave of dissatisfaction due to inflated mock grades leading to high expectations. Under the ‘duet’ tag, students juxtaposed their anticipated scores with their final outcomes, allowing them to commiserate or celebrate collectively.
On results day, countless students eagerly opened their envelopes to reveal their grades, marking the first traditional exam season since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, not all students were met with the outcomes they had hoped for. Particularly in England, there has been criticism of the return to pre-pandemic grading standards, which some consider unfair. In contrast, Wales and Northern Ireland have been granted an additional year to transition back to the 2019 grading system.
Notably, there appears to be a discrepancy between the grades achieved by English pupils and the marks they attained in their mock assessments. This variation prompted students to create comparison videos, which featured both their actual predicted grades and their own pre-results predictions. These videos showcased diverse reactions, with some teenagers expressing disappointment over certain subjects, while others surpassed their expectations by a considerable margin.
Among these TikTok posts, one student expressed relief, saying, “Actually was s****ing bricks for this but woohooo passed everything!” Another joyful student exclaimed, “So happy! Congrats everyone!! IT’S OVER.” Conversely, some individuals who received grades lower than their predictions offered encouraging messages, such as “Don’t let grades define you as a person.”
This trend was sparked by a viral video of student Emily Burns, who opened her results to discover that she had “failed everything.” Her genuine and candid reaction resonated with many and set the tone for the subsequent flood of comparison videos.
On a larger scale, this year’s GCSE results demonstrated a decrease in top grades awarded, aligning with efforts to return to pre-pandemic levels. Official statistics revealed regional disparities, indicating that a significant portion of students might need to resit key English and maths exams after falling short of a “standard” pass.
Comparing this year’s results to previous years, around 203,000 fewer top GCSE grades were distributed across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. However, there was a notable increase of 142,000 top grades compared to 2019. The fluctuations are attributed to the impact of COVID-19, which led to variations in grading standards and the shift from exam-based assessments to teacher evaluations.
While over a fifth (22.0%) of UK GCSE entries received top grades this year, marking a decrease from the previous year, this figure still exceeded the percentages from 2019. A pressing concern emerged as regional disparities became evident, with the gap in top GCSE grades between London and the North East widening. This year, 28.4% of GCSE entries in London achieved a grade 7 or above, compared to 17.6% in the North East. This gap widened by 0.6 percentage points compared to the previous year.
The proportion of GCSE entries achieving a “standard pass” (at least a grade 4 or a C) also experienced fluctuations, dropping from 73.2% in 2022 to 68.2% this year. Nevertheless, this figure remained higher than the percentage from 2019. These results have sparked discussions about the need to address regional discrepancies and the ongoing impact of the pandemic on educational outcomes.