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From A to U grade in just nine marks

ONLY nine marks separated an A and a U grade in this year's OCR psychology A-level coursework.

But despite the Government's exam watchdog's admission that the range was too narrow, students will have no redress.

Teachers' complaints that students who had scored A grades in five psychology units received only a U for coursework were one of the first indications of this year's A-level crisis.

A U in one unit could potentially drag down the overall A-level grade.

Psychology coursework was only included in the Tomlinson regrading inquiry because the OCR exam board volunteered to review it after pressure from schools.

According to OCR, psychology was not one of the subjects where the grade boundary movement this year was out of line with previous years. In the event, the inquiry confirmed the grade boundaries and no upgrades were made. This leaves thousands of unhappy students who received coursework results below those predicted this summer, when the number of AS and A2 entries reached 100,000.

A Qualifications and Curriculum Authority spokesman said: "The narrow range of marks between grade boundaries (between 30 and 39 out of 50) makes discrimination between scripts more difficult than on a broader range. OCR has been directed by QCA to review its mark scheme and to apply a broader range of marks for 2003.

"Although the scale used in 2002 was valid, better discrimination between scripts can be achieved."

At Knights Templar school, in Hertfordshire, 14 of 20 psychology candidates received U grades for their coursework.

Headteacher Peter Chapman said: "It is hard to imagine that candidates in this subject did not suffer. Psychology was beset by distinctive problems and surely more must be done to right it. If that means grade changes, albeit belatedly, it should be done."

The school has asked for scripts to be re-marked and returned.

A QCA spokeswoman said psychology was the only subject where the mark scheme would be rewritten for 2003.

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