Dozens of A-level candidates received an early glimpse of their results at the weekend as a result of an exam board blunder. About 50 pupils logged on to an online service run by the Edexcel exam board after it had been mistakenly opened up five days before the results were due to be published.
The error, the latest in a series of mistakes during this year's exams season, happened as exam board officials were testing the service in advance of Thursday's results. It appeared that a handful of young people logged on to the service on Thursday morning and then texted their classmates when they realised they could access the results.
The exam board immediately issued an apology for the error but added that it believed "no student will be unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged as a consequence". Last year, about 50,000 candidates chose to receive their results online instead of going to school to receive them.
It follows an exams season in which a total of 12 errors in exam board questions came to light – for which some students were given extra marks because questions were impossible to answer.
In addition, 34 students were given the wrong grades in their Scottish Higher exams in religious, moral and philosophical studies because of an administrative error. The candidates will now be given upgrades and the University and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) will be informed of the errors.
A spokesman for the Scottish Qualifications Authority said: "It was a human error, not systematic."
Earlier, some students were texted their results a day earlier than planned – also as the result of a mistake.
Meanwhile, more than 200,000 university candidates who are expected to end up without a university place are warned today they could suffer from cuts in the careers service Connexions.
"The Government's disgraceful failure to provide a replacement for the careers service it dismantled has left students without access to the clear, unbiased, relevant and up-to-date careers advice and guidance many will need," said Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.
The Government has scrapped the Connexions system that used to run the careers service and replaced it with a national advice forum that can only be accessed online, rather than give face-to-face interviews. Responsibility for arranging individual advice has been transferred to schools.
Dr Bousted added: "We fear for the thousands of students who miss out on a university place and face paying three times more next year or struggle to find careers advice following cuts."
Those students who fail to confirm a provisional university place through their results on Thursday morning will find many doors closed to them.
A poll of 60 universities revealed that one in four was unlikely to have any places available through the clearing system this year. Oxford, Cambridge, the London School of Economics, Imperial College London, Warwick, University College London, Edinburgh and Birmingham universities have all said they will be not be entering clearing this year.
Surrey, Oxford Brookes, Chester, Reading and Harper Adams University College have also said they are unlikely to be in clearing.