Eighteen students who sat Chemistry in this year’s Leaving Certificate will receive the unexpected news of a results upgrade from the State Examinations Commission.

The students, who did not query their results, have benefited from a revision to the marks awarded for the paper, carried out by the SEC on foot of an appeal by one candidate.

In total, this year's appeals process has led to around 1,500 upgrades, which is in line with last year's outcome.

More than 5,000 students appealed the results they received in a total of 9,087 papers this year and 16% were upgraded.

Results were downgraded in the case of five appeals.

In one appeal, a student queried the marks awarded for an answer in the Chemistry paper.

The student argued there was another, alternative correct answer to part of question 5 (a), which asked students to define the "relative atomic mass of an element", and the SEC accepted this.

The answer was worth just three marks out of a total of 400.

As a result, the SEC reviewed an additional 208 Chemistry papers where the awarding of those three marks would lead to a higher grade and 18 of those papers were upgraded as a result.

Those students will be notified today.

The SEC said that every year it uses the appeals process as a further quality assurance check on its processes and this year's Chemistry revision was part of that.

It said the changes in grades arising from these quality assurance measures will be notified today to the candidate's schools and to the CAO. They will be updated on the SEC's online results service.

The overall number of papers appealed this year, as well as the outcome, broadly match that of last year. 

This year, a total of 5,197 students appealed more than 9,000 individual results. This year's 16% upgrade rate compares to 14.5% last year. 

In the processing of appeals, the marking of each candidate's work is fully reviewed question by question using the original marking scheme.

The review is carried out by a different examiner to the one who originally marked the work.

Last month, a High Court ruling in the case of one Leaving Certificate appellant, Rebecca Carter, placed a public focus on the exam appeals process.

Ms Carter discovered during a recheck of her Business paper that her marks had been totted up incorrectly to her disadvantage.

The High Court ruled that Ms Carter should not have to wait until the normal appeals process is concluded in October to receive the formal outcome of her appeal and miss a UCD deadline for acceptance of a place on their Veterinary Medicine course as a result.

In a statement issued with this year's aggregate appeal results, the SEC said that its board was "considering the broader issues raised very carefully".

It said it was working and collaborating with the Department of Education and Skills and representatives of the higher education sector as a matter of urgency in reviewing and identifying how the examination results timelines, the offer of places, and the commencement of the third level academic year, could interact more effectively with each other in the interests of students. 

It said that as part of this review process it was carrying out "an urgent assessment of the current timelines" involved in the Leaving Certificate appeals process in order to contribute fully and fruitfully to the broader discussions.