2021 exam changes

Your go-to place for exam changes and teacher support in 2021 and beyond

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 and A-level Functional Skills English and Maths
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

Draft timetables will be published on 7 June, and will be made available in dates and timetables.

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 (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.

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 will be available in November as usual.

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.

Summary

  • Submit grades and endorsements by 18 June, with training now available on Learning Space
  • 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
  • Creating a range of evidence for your subject – videos and written guidance now available
  • Assessment materials for summer 2021 available in Centre Services and Secure Key Materials
  • Schools should keep students' work to support quality assurance processes and appeals

Connect with us

Contact our team

Exams officers can contact our customer services team by:

Tel: 0800 197 7162

+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.

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