A leading student website has warned people not to trust doctored images of “leaked” grade boundaries, after a photoshopped image of supposed GCSE maths boundaries appeared on the site earlier this week.
The image appeared on a thread about GCSE results on popular site The Student Room. But the site has since placed a notice at the top of the thread stating that the boundaries are false.
Pete Langley, director of Study Help at The Student Room, said: “GCSE students are understandably feeling anxious before Thursday’s results and this sort of irresponsible ‘joke’ just adds to their uncertainty.
“We’ve made it absolutely clear that this image is completely fake and closed the discussion. The image has been left, as removing it could have been misinterpreted.”
He said that following the real leak of boundaries for an Edexcel maths A level last week, grade boundaries had "become a really significant source of discussion".
GCSE '"leaks" spread like wildfire'
"Now the awarding bodies hold [boundaries] for an extra 24 hours, the speculation has become even more frenzied,” he said.
Schools are able to view the grade boundaries the day before results day but they only become public after results are published.
Mr Langley added that since boundaries have been placed behind "secure" parts of exam board websites they are regularly leaked, and “that is now expected by many students”.
Because of this, some students found it “fun” to “gain notoriety by photoshopping documents to make them appear like the forthcoming grade boundaries, creating even more speculation as to their likely authenticity, and so it goes on”.
Joe Woodcock, junior community manager at The Student Room, said: “There is more and more interest in grade boundaries. Any sort of leak can spread like wildfire.
“With the rise of social media, we’ve seen how quickly these can spread. We know sometimes boundaries do get leaked, and it’s most damaging for the mentality of students if they turn out not to be true.”
He said students focused on grade boundaries because they could provide a kind of “validation” as they waited for results: “If they see a low grade boundary and they found the exam quite easy, they’ll think the higher grades are in reach.”
Leaks – both real and false – are becoming a significant problem. This month, 78 students had their A-level results withheld while Edexcel investigated whether they had benefited from a leak of the A-level maths paper.
At the time Pearson Edexcel was unable to immediately confirm the authenticity of the paper because “we get sent lots of images of question papers” and “the vast majority of these are hoaxes”.
And in June, Tes reported on how fake “leaked” GCSE exam papers were spreading rapidly online, creating panic among pupils.