Five tips for effective exam analysis

By Jason Hewer

As the busy exam season comes and goes, analysing your final exam results begins to rank highly on the list of priorities. Schools have certainly become accustomed to adapting to exam changes, and this year is no different with the arrival of the first 9-1 results for many English, English Literature and Maths GCSE courses.

One of SIMS’ many advantages lies with its flexibility and adaptability to schools’ individual needs - here’s how you can make the most of SIMS at exam analysis time and how changes to the PI Report will help independent and international schools analyse results more effectively through SIMS:

1. Exam Analyses
Once your exam season is up and running in Exams Organiser, running the Exam Analyses routine will automatically build analysis tools to be populated with your results once they are received. The analyses that are created – aspect, result set and group analysis grids - can be cloned, new column patterns can be added and they can then be attached to relevant staff members’ Homepages for instant display of results once your results embargo has ended. Furthermore, with the arrival of new 9-1 GCSE results, grids representing this new gradeset will also be created.

This routine can be found in the following menu: Tools > Performance > Analysis > Exam Analyses.

Result Set: Summer Exams 2017


2. PI Reports

Performance Indicator Reports provide a quick way to view your school’s headline results measures at GCSE and A Level and might be used to inform senior leaders or create a press release on results day. Measures such as Attainment 8 and % A*-C at GCSE and % of pupils achieving AAB and above at A Level are included and the reports can be run with filters to display outcomes for key pupil groups such as SEND.

This year, we’ve reworked how the Performance Indicator (PI) file operates in SIMS, by giving control to schools on which qualifications they are running. Traditionally, these measures have been of limited use to Independent schools who are not measured by the league tables. However, by giving control to schools to adapt the measures to best suit them, this brings a whole new relevance to the running the PI Reports in SIMS for Independent schools as it allows them to define the variables that are measured.

The new guide with an easy-to-follow checklist is available on the Documentation Centre here

Performance table report

Not only do the PI Reports provide a quick way to calculate your headline figures, the added benefit of running these in SIMS is the subsequent visibility of the results in SIMS Discover. SIMS Discover opens up a world of possibilities when analysing exam results. It gives you the ability to cross-reference with other data from SIMS such as attendance and assessment, track outcomes for G&T, SEND and pupils with a scholarship or bursary, and create distinct graphs that can be used in reports or displays around the school.

3. Exam results in marksheets
By using the ‘View Exams’ option in SIMS (Tools > Performance > Options menu), you can view results from Exams Organiser in your assessment marksheets. This is an effective way to support and inform teachers throughout the year – marksheet columns can be created to view (but not edit!) final grades or modular results alongside internal assessment data, or used in formulas to highlight differences between predicted and actual grades.

4. Reports in Exams Organiser
These reports provide a quick and easy way to view results in a number of different ways, using straightforward selection criteria. They might form the basis of a school’s initial reporting once results are received, giving teachers an overview of pupil results to allow them to discuss their next steps, or providing department heads with an indication of how well they’ve performed.

Three key reports are:

  • Certification broadsheet – displays all results by individual pupil, for each subject taken
  • Group Performance Analysis – displays the number (or %) of each grade received and residual value, by academic class. Cumulative view of grades also available for an indication of each threshold achieved
  • Subject/Grade Analysis – totals of each grade achieved by subject, including thresholds such as A*-B

These reports can be printed or exported, allowing them to be easily handed out or emailed. They can also be run by anyone with limited Exams Organiser permissions, without the Exams Officer being present, restricting access to the more advanced features.

5. SIMS Discover
With SIMS Discover, you can display figures from your PI report calculations in graphs and then drill down to classes and pupils for further analysis. You can also combine data such as SEND, attendance and scholarship information, allowing you to identify important trends and monitor pupils more closely.

Schools also like being able to create dynamic groups to flag changes automatically. Want to monitor pupils who fall below A*-B in English? Simply create a dynamic group to send alerts whenever a pupil falls out of this category. A hugely valuable timesaver.

Once installed, Discover is accessible from the icon menu in SIMS. For further guidance see the Discover Handbook.

KS4 Grade Distribution


Being able to gain insight from your data is crucial to informing your strategic decision-making - the tools in SIMS will help you to plan ahead and celebrate in the achievements of your school.

Here’s wishing you every success at the end of another eventful year.


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