Under exam rules, students can apply for 'special consideration' if they can show that factors such as recent family bereavement or illness seriously affected their performance. The system, which can
allow pupils to receive A and B grades even if their exam scripts were poor, is meant to be used only in exceptional circumstances.
However, the exam boards are experiencing a surge in appeals, many offering outlandish excuses, and warn that some schools, which must approve their pupils' claims, are being too lax. Among the
upgraded in several papers. One school claimed that a roomful of students had under-performed after a girl allegedly saw a spider in the exam hall and ran out screaming with fright.
The increasing use of appeals, which has emerged as thousands of pupils prepare to take this year's GCSEs and A-levels, was confirmed by Ron McLone, convener of the Joint Council for General Qualifications, which represents the country's examination boards.