Responding to widespread criticism and the call for a review of its grading system in light of this year’s ‘disappointing results’ among Pakistani students, Cambridge International issued a statement on Sunday, asserting, “The current year’s standard has reverted to that of [the pre-pandemic standard of] 2019.”
Pakistani students who obtained their Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) AS and A-Level outcomes were left disheartened as their grades included Cs and Es, leading them to allege unfairness.
The issuance of average grades followed the cancellation of exams on May 9 and 12 due to political unrest stemming from the apprehension of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan.
Voicing their concerns, students have criticized the grading as unjust and demanded a reassessment of the scrapped papers to provide an opportunity to enhance their grades.
In a statement, a spokesperson from Cambridge International stated, “In line with other examination boards, we have been gradually aligning the standards of Cambridge qualifications with the pre-pandemic benchmark of 2019.”
The statement further underscored that this year’s standard has returned to the 2019 level, implying that a student who would have achieved an A grade in 2019 is equally likely to attain an A in 2023.
“The reversion to the 2019 standard has been observed by students worldwide,” the statement noted.
“Following the release of Cambridge International AS and A-Level results on August 10, the statement acknowledges the disappointment of certain students in Pakistan with their results,” acknowledging Cambridge International’s awareness of students’ concerns due to the absence of exam components following the cancellations on May 10-12.
The spokesperson clarified that Cambridge International furnished schools with reminders and clarifications concerning the implementation of standards and grading for the June 2023 series, aiming to aid students, parents, and schools in grasping the context of their results.
The statement reassured students about the credibility of assessed marks for those who were unable to complete exam components.
For students who couldn’t complete specific components and were assigned assessed marks based on their performance in the completed parts, Cambridge has established protocols for awarding results in such scenarios, added the spokesperson.
Assessed marks ensure that students are neither advantaged nor disadvantaged in comparison to those who managed to complete the exam, the statement affirmed.
While acknowledging that only a minority of students would opt for this method of result allocation, the statement emphasized that, given the challenging circumstances, assessed marks are the most viable solution to ensure students receive results and can progress to the next phase of their education.
Maryam advocates for CIE to review its grading system
Maryam Nawaz, Senior Vice President of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), has raised her voice on behalf of the students, urging the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) to reevaluate its grading system for this year, citing unprecedented political turmoil.
Addressing the matter on the X platform, the PML-N leader expressed concerns about the unexpected results, stating, “It appears that this year’s grading has produced unjust outcomes, causing significant unrest and anxiety among students. Projected A*s have culminated in Cs and Es.”
On August 10, more than 45,000 students in Pakistan received their Cambridge International AS and A-Level results. Overall, there were over 118,000 entries for Cambridge International AS and A-level exams in the June 2023 series in Pakistan, indicating a 10% increase since June 2022.