Additional exam information

St Peter's School

Additional exam information

How is the A* grade awarded at A Level?

Linear A Level subjects (In 2017: English, History, Economics, Business, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Art)

In the new linear A Levels a mark will be identified in each subject as the grade boundary for A/A*.  This mark will be set so that, the same proportion of pupils across the country achieve A* grades in a given subject as was the case in 2016.  

Modular (old/unreformed subjects)

To gain an A* grade two conditions must be met. Firstly, the combined UMS mark for the full A Level must be above 80%, secondly, the combined UMS mark for the A2 modules must be above 90%.

The example below is a four module course each of which has a maximum UMS of 100. The total UMS marks for the full A Level is 400.

Max UMS Pupil A Pupils B
AS Module 1 100 79 ≥70% b 95 ≥80% a
Module 2 100 79 ≥70% b 100 ≥80% a
Total 200 178 ≥70% B 190 ≥80% A
A2 Module 3 100 94 ≥80% b 88 ≥80% a
Module 4 100 91 ≥80% b 87 ≥80% a
Total 200 185 ≥90% A* 177 <90% A
Full A-Level 400 363 ≥80% 367 ≥80%

In the example above the marks in blue are used to determine whether or not an A* grade is awarded.

Pupil A has achieved a total A-level mark which is greater than 80% and an A2 mark which is greater than 90%. Pupil A is awarded and A* grade.

Pupil B has achieved a total A-level mark which is greater than 80% but the A2 mark is less than 90%. Pupil B is awarded an A grade. These two examples also illustrate two further points:  that the AS mark does not impact on the final A* grade except in so far as it contributes to the overall A-level mark which is the first condition needed to for an A*; and that a higher overall A-level mark does not necessarily mean that an A* is awarded. For most pupils an A* is entirely dependent on the A2 modules.

UMS, Raw Marks and the A* Grade Explained

What is UMS?

UMS stands for Uniform Mark Scale. This is a mark which is given to each module or paper. These individual UMS marks are added together to give a combined UMS mark for a GCSE, AS-level or full A-level. They are not used for IGCSE. Both the individual module and the combined UMS are allocated a grade. It is Uniform because the percentage of the total available UMS marks for a paper or a whole course defines the grade boundaries according to the table below.

90% of Maximum UMS A* (GCSE)
80% of Maximum UMS A
70% of Maximum UMS B
60% of Maximum UMS C
50% of Maximum UMS D
40% of Maximum UMS E


Minimum Marks for each grade based on the most common Maximum UMS
Max UMS 200 240 300 400 480 600
A* (GCSE) 180 216 270 360 432 540
A 160 192 240 320 384 480
B 140 168 210 280 336 420
C 120 144 180 240 288 360
D 100 120 150 200 240 300
E 80 96 120 160 192 240


How is the UMS created?

Individual papers are marked by examination boards and awarded a Raw Mark. This does not appear on certificates, though it is available to schools.

Exam boards then set grade boundaries based on the difficulty of the paper. These Raw Mark grade boundaries are transposed to the UMS as indicated in the tables above.

Why do different modules have different maximum marks?

Individual modules may have different maximum marks to weight one module or part of the course more or less heavily in the overall final mark. The maximum marks available for each module can be found in our GCSE and A-level Curriculum Booklets.


UMS marks are used in all A-level examinations and all GCSE examinations. IGCSE examinations do not use UMS. At St Peter’s this means that the UMS marks DO NOT apply to:  Mathematics, English, Science or Modern Languages for the 2014 results.


Data protection legislation

Whenever an external examination entry is made some personal information on a pupil is passed to an examination board; usually only their name and date of birth. The examination boards are improving their systems for post-results services (re-marks, access to scripts) and transferring to Internet based operations.

It is necessary, under data protection legislation, for you to give consent for your sons/daughter’s personal information to be used with these new systems.

We will assume that such consent is given unless you contact us and withdraw your consent.

It is very much hoped that using these Internet based systems will speed up the processes of re-marks and accessing scripts after results are published.

English Exam Qualifications for British Universities

Applicable to Overseas Pupils
New pupils who begin studying A-levels and who wish to go on to a British University may not have obtained a high enough grade in their English exam to satisfy entry requirements for a British University, (i.e. at least Grade C or above in HKCEE).

During your first year in the Sixth Form you will be given extra lessons to help achieve entry requirement level, in the I.E L.T.S. exam, (grade 6 or above).

Until recently, the required score has been 6.0 or more. However, some faculties in some universities are now expecting up to a score of 7.0. It is essential that you look at the prospectus of the individual universities before you apply, to check their requirements in this respect. If you have not achieved the required score you may need to take the exam again.

Entry for this examination will be administered through St Peter’s School. There will be an entry fee for the exam which will be charged to the school account. Also, extra lessons, if needed, will entail a charge to the school fee account.