Please note: The following information has not been updated since the Data Protection Act 2018 became law. Although there may be some subtle differences between the guidance on this page and guidance reflecting the new law – we still consider the information useful to those in the media. This guidance will be updated soon to reflect the changes.
If you've just received your exam results, you may be interested to find out more about how you've been marked, and the comments made about you and your exam paper. You may even want to make an appeal against a mark you've been given.
Can I find out more about my exam results?
The GDPR gives you the right to see information held about you. This means you can request information about you and your exam performance, including:
- your mark;
- comments written by the examiner; and
- minutes of any examination appeals panels.
But it does not give you the right to copies of your answers to exam questions.
How do I access my information?
To access the information held about you, write to the place that holds the information. You may be able to get the address from your school or university’s appeals procedure. To access information held about you by a state school in Scotland you should write to the local authority in whose area the school is located.
You can use email. Keep a copy of whatever you send, and write down the date you sent it.
How long will it take?
As long as the exam results have been published, your school or university must respond to your request for your information within one month.
If you request the results before they have been announced, your school or university must respond:
- within five months of the date of the request; or
- within 40 days from when the results are published (whichever is earlier).
Can I request information about my school?
You can obtain official information – such as school or university policies and procedures – under the Freedom of Information Act.
Your school or university must reply to a freedom of information request within 20 working days.
Official information held by Scottish public authorities (including schools and universities) is covered by Scotland’s own Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. This is regulated by the Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner.
How do I make an appeal?
The GDPR means that the mark you were awarded by the examiner must be recorded accurately, but it doesn’t give you the right to challenge the examiner’s decision.
You may however be able to appeal a mark you’ve been given in an exam under the examination board’s own procedures if you believe:
- a procedure wasn’t followed correctly;
- there was bias or prejudice in the decision-making; or
- the examiner has made a mistake.
First, get a copy of your school or university appeals procedure. This may be available from their website, if they have one, or by contacting their main office. This will tell you what you need to do, and who to contact.
Can schools give my exam results to the media for publication?
Publishing examination results is a common and accepted practice. Many students enjoy seeing their name in print, particularly in the local press and the GDPR does not stop this happening. However, under the GDPR schools have to act fairly when publishing results, and where people have concerns about their or their child’s information being published, schools must take those concerns seriously.
Schools should make sure that all pupils and their parents or guardians are aware as early as possible whether examinations results will be made public and how this will be done. Schools should also explain how the information will be published. For example, if results will be listed alphabetically, or in grade order.
In general, because a school has a legitimate reason for publishing examination results, pupils or their parents or guardians do not need to give their consent to publication. However, if you have a specific concern about publication of your results, you have the right to object. Schools should consider objections from pupils and parents before making a decision to publish. A school would need to have a good reason to reject someone’s objection to publication of their exam results.
Can a child make a request for their information?
The GDPR does not specify an age when a child can request their exam results or request that they aren’t published. When a child makes a request, those responsible for responding should take into account whether:
- the child wants their parent (or someone with parental responsibility for them) to be involved; and
- the child properly understands what is involved.
The ability of young people to understand and exercise their rights is likely to develop or become more sophisticated as they get older. As a general guide, a child of 12 or older is expected to be mature enough to understand the request they are making. A child may, of course, be mature enough at an earlier age or may lack sufficient maturity until a later age, and so requests should be considered on a case by case basis.