2021 exam changes
Autumn exam series
Autumn exams will take place this year. Learn what this means for your subject.
Ofqual confirmed that autumn exams can take place in 2021 for GCSE, AS and A-level, and Vocational, Technical and other qualifications along side the usual November series exams.
Find out when exams will take place, along with specific exams information for:
When exams will take place
|GCSE||AS, A-level and Level 3 Certificate in Mathematical Studies||Functional Skills English and Maths, EPQ and Level 2 Certificate in Further Mathematics|
|November and December||October||November|
Exams for Vocational, Technical and other qualifications will take place between September and January as usual.
For qualifications where there’s already an existing opportunity to sit these exams in the January series, we’ll continue to offer this.
Timetables are available on our dates and timetables page.
GCSE, AS and A-level exams
Who is eligible to sit autumn exams
Students will be eligible to enter for this series if they’ve received a grade this summer, or if an exam board reasonably believes they would have entered for the exams in summer 2021, had they taken place.
As in a usual year any student who was aged at least 16 on 31 August 2021 can take the GCSE English Language and Maths exams.
Exams that will be offered
We'll offer exams in all GCSE and A-level subjects, and AS exams in Biology, Chemistry, Further Maths, Maths and Physics.
The exams will be in their normal format.
Adaptations for GCSE exams only
Adaptations will only be made for subjects that had a previous arrangement following Ofqual’s consultation in 2020 (see below). Reasonable adjustments will be made for eligible students. All subjects will be assessed by exam except art and design which will be assessed by a task set and marked by the exam board. Students’ grades will be determined by their performance on this task.
Subjects with agreed adaptations for exams in 2021:
- GCSE English Literature – reduction in content through optionality in the papers. Shakespeare and unseen poetry will be compulsory. Then a choice of two from Anthology of poetry, Modern text and 19th century novel
- GCSE History – reduction in content through increased optionality. Paper 1 section B will be compulsory. Then a choice of two from the other three sections
- GCSE Geography – removing the need to complete fieldwork and answer questions relating to their own fieldwork experience (Paper 3 question 5). Unfamiliar fieldwork will still be assessed
- GCSE MFLs – increased optionality in the writing paper to allow students to answer on their preferred theme. Vocabulary amends to the reading and listening papers to reduce testing words outside of the vocabulary lists.
No non-exam assessments (NEA)
There will be no non-exam assessments for GCSE, AS and A-level. All grades will be determined by students’ performance in the exams only.
The only exception to this is for art and design qualifications, where grades will be determined by students’ performance in a task set and marked by the exam board.
Students will be able to carry forward their GCSE English Language, GCSE MFL and A-level Science endorsement grade/level from summer 2021 or a previous series or resit them if their school or college decides to offer the opportunity. There’s no requirement for schools and colleges to offer the endorsement this series.
If a student only sits the written paper but doesn’t complete or carry forward their endorsement result, they’ll receive a subject grade on their certificate for the written papers, but will also show a ‘not classified’ level/grade for GCSE MFL and A-level Science and ‘not attempted’ for GCSE English Language for the endorsement.
Appeals will be made available
The usual arrangements for appeals and reviews of marking will apply to the exam series.
Replacement certificates can be requested
A replacement certificate will be issued to a student showing the higher of an autumn 2021 or summer 2021 grade if a student requests this.
Vocational, Technical and other qualifications exams
As there will be no non-exam assessments this series, any Vocational, Technical and other qualifications that are 100% NEA, will not be offered this autumn.
Only exams for certain subjects will be offered in autumn, as there will be exams as usual in January and summer 2022.
Exams that will be offered in autumn
The following subjects will be offered as part of the autumn series:
- AQA Certificate Level 2 Further Mathematics
- AQA Certificate Level 3 Mathematical Studies.
EPQ and Functional Skills English and Maths will be available in November as usual.
Functional Skills English
Students will need to complete the NEA Speaking, Listening and Communicating component and send us a sample of the audio-visual recording. See our guidance on how to do this.
Only offered in January 2022
- Tech-levels - Business, Engineering, IT and Entertainment Technology (please note this is the last external exam resit and certification opportunity for this qualification)
- Applied Generals - Business and Science
- Entry level Certificates in English and Maths
- Functional Skills English and Maths (also available in November).
Only offered in summer 2022
- FCSE MFL
- ELC Science
- Tech Award – Performing Arts
- Level 1 and 2 Projects.
- Autumn exams will take place. Information available for general and non-general qualifications
- We've published information about how fees are being used this summer
- DfE and Ofqual consultation decisions published for VTQs in 2022 only
Connect with us
Exams officers can contact our customer services team by:
+44 161 696 5995 outside the UK
Our opening hours are:
8am–5pm Monday to Friday
Parents and students should contact their school or college in the first instance.