Ministers believe the experiment will reduce the number of pupils appealing against the grades they are awarded in the exams by confronting them with their mistakes. The Government also wants to make marking procedures more open.
Evidence from the Republic of Ireland, which decided last year to return marked papers, showed a reduction in appeals.
The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has prepared pilot schemes for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, first announced last year.
This year, GCSE candidates in 200 schools and colleges will be entitled to inspect their exam scripts. For some, all the papers will be returned to their school; others will be able to look at them in exam board offices.
A-level candidates in 1,000 schools and colleges will also be able to collect photocopies of marked scripts in 10 subjects.
John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said there was little support in schools for the move. "It ignores the practical difficulties of photocopying, returning, storing and distributing about five million examination papers. A particular concern for secondary schools and colleges is that this will cause an increase in the costs of external examinations. This has already reached pounds 50,000 per year in a 1,000-pupil school," he said.
A senior government source said: "It will be for schools to decide whether they want the scripts returned. It needn't necessarily be more expensive. This is about open government. It is about saying if you have sat an exam you have a right to at least see how it was marked."
David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, also announced a new appeals system to ensure that GCSE and A-level results are consistent and fair.
A new Examinations and Appeals Board will replace the existing appeals system and will monitor exam boards' appeals hearings.
Ministers hope that the new board, which will be chaired by David Mallen, the former education officer for East Sussex County Council, will speed the outcome of appeals.Reuse content