2021 exam changes

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

Autumn 2021 series consultation decisions explained

Published:Wednesday 5 May 2021

Ofqual has published the consultation decisions on the autumn 2021 series for GCSEs, AS and A-levels and for Vocational and Technical and Other General Qualifications. We want to help summarise and explain the decisions, and to outline the support we hope to have in place for schools.

GCSEs, AS and A-levels

  • AS and A-level exams will be held in October, GCSE exams will take place in November and December.
  • 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.
  • Ofqual has said exam boards must offer exams in all GCSE and A-level subjects, and offer AS exams in biology, chemistry, further maths, maths and physics.
  • The exams will be in their normal format, with no adaptations.
  • There will be no non-exam assessments - 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.
  • The usual arrangements for appeals and reviews of marking will apply to the exam series.
  • 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

For Vocational, Technical and other qualifications, exam boards should continue to make assessment opportunities available between September and January as usual. For qualifications where there’s already an existing opportunity to sit these exams in the January series, exam boards should continue to offer this. Where there’s demand to offer additional subjects, in line with the arrangements for GCSE, AS and A-levels, exam boards are allowed to offer them, where appropriate.

We can confirm:

  • Functional Skills English and Maths will be available as part of the usual November exam series
  • The following subjects will be available as usual, in January 2022:
    • Tech-levels - Business, Engineering, IT and Entertainment Technology (NB 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
  • 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.

We’ll publish further information as soon as we can to confirm final arrangements for all Vocational, Technical and other qualifications this autumn.

Ofqual has also updated the Vocational and technical qualifications contingency regulatory framework.

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