2021 exam changes

Your go-to place for exam changes and teacher support this summer

Applied Generals: how we're calculating January 2021 series results

Published:Friday 12 Feb 2021

For students entered for our Applied General Science or Applied General Business qualifications in January 2021 and are receiving certificates in this series, we’ll use an estimated (back-calculated) mark for any units taken in summer 2020, and which are now being used for certification.

Results for the January 2021 exam series are published on Thursday 4 March.

The unit result for summer 2020 will be estimated using a z-score calculation – and is the same method used for those students who were absent from an exam for an acceptable reason. JCQ’s document explains how missing marks are estimated.

To ensure we maximise the evidence available, we’ll only carry out the back-calculation when the student certificates for the exam. If a student resits a unit and scores less than their back-calculated mark, for future certification purposes, we’ll recognise the best achievement for the student.

The approach to awarding grades in summer 2021 is still being considered. We’re waiting for the outcomes from the joint DfE and Ofqual 2021 series consultation, and we’ll publish further information when we know what this means for schools/colleges and their learners.

Students awarded the Certificate in summer 2020 and wanting to improve their grade

As in a normal year, if a student has previously been awarded the Certificate they’d need to resit all units to receive a new grade - they can’t, for example, resit some units and get a back-calculated result for others, in order to improve their grade.

Schools will need to withdraw any entries where a student has been entered for a re-certification and they haven’t been entered for all units.

Students awarded the Certificate in summer 2020 and proceeding to the Extended Certificate

For students who were entered and awarded the Certificate in summer 2020, and then enter for the Extended Certificate in January 2021, the grade for the Certificate issued in summer 2020 won’t count towards the Extended Certificate result. Instead, students will receive back-calculated marks for units entered in summer 2020, based on performance in completed units.

If the back-calculated marks mean that the Certificate grade would be lower than the result issued in summer 2020, then those marks will be reviewed and where appropriate increased so as to produce a Certificate grade which is the same as the grade issued in summer 2020.

How we decide which units marks to use when back-calculating marks from summer 2020

We’ll look to use the most appropriate evidence that’s available for the student. This will depend on the situation, and there’s some general principles that we’ll apply:

  • where possible, units used to back-calculate marks will be at the same level - for example, the back-calculation of a mark for a unit that contributes to the Certificate will use performance in other units that contribute to the Certificate
  • a unit result won’t be used in the back-calculation of a mark for the same unit - for example, a mark in ABS1 in January 2021 will not be used to back-calculate a mark for ABS1 from summer 2020
  • if a student has two actual results for a unit, as well as an entry in summer 2020, the most recent result will be used - for example, if a student had an entry for a unit in January 2020 and January 2021 (as well as in summer 2020), then the January 2021 result would be used in the back-calculation
  • a previous unit result (pre-summer 2020) won’t be used in the back-calculation if there was an entry for that unit in summer 2020 because the student had planned to resit the unit in summer 2020.

Example scenarios

Candidate 1: Entered for units 1, 2 and 3 and certificated for the Certificate in summer 2020. In January 2021, enters for units 4, 5 and 6 and certificates for the Extended Certificate.

Uniform marks for units 1, 2 and 3 will be back-calculated using the results for units 4, 5 and 6.  These will be reviewed to ensure that they would give a Certificate grade no lower than the grade issued in summer 2020. For example, if the student received a Merit in summer 2020 but the sum of the back-calculated marks is less than 180 UMS (the lowest uniform mark (UMS) associated with a Merit), then those marks would be uplifted to make a total of 180 UMS.  In this example it isn’t possible to apply the principle that units used to back-calculate marks will be at the same level.

Candidate 2: Entered for unit 1 only in summer 2020 and didn’t certificate, so didn’t receive a grade. In January 2021, enters for units 2 and 3 and certificates for the Certificate.

The uniform mark for unit 1 will be back-calculated using the results for units 2 and 3.

Candidate 3: Has a result for unit 1 from January 2020. Entered for units 2 and 3 and certificated for the Certificate in summer 2020. In January 2021, enters for units 4, 5 and 6 and certificates for the Extended Certificate.

The actual result for unit 1 from January 2020 will be used. Uniform marks for units 2 and 3 will be back-calculated using the results for unit 1. If the total UMS of the three units is less than the grade issued in summer 2020, we’d only uplift the back-calculated marks (for units 2 and 3) and not the mark for unit 1 from January 2020.

See all 2021 exam changes

Get updates by email
Sign up or update your contact details to receive news and updates about changes.

Follow us

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.

Sign up for updates

Let us know if you’d like the latest updates about your subject.

Sign up for updates