Changes for 2021 exams for GCSE, AS and A-level Design and Technology

Wednesday 23 Sep 2020

We’ve been working hard to make the relevant changes to our qualifications following Ofqual’s decisions on summer 2021 exams, so here are the changes you need to know about.

The following changes apply to our GCSE, AS and A-level Design and Technology qualifications and only for the 2021 exam series.

GCSE Design and Technology (8552)

All sections of the non-exam assessment (NEA) up to and including ‘Developing design ideas’ will remain the same for 2021.

Changes for 2021

Realising design ideas

  • This section has been reduced from 20 to 10 marks
  • Students will no longer be assessed on the skill of making but will be required to show their ‘intentions of prototypes’ and demonstrate their understanding of the processes involved in making
  • The assessment no longer requires students to make a final prototype - instead, they can show their understanding of the processes involved in making by writing about them. However, making skills are important for progression to future study, and for students understanding, so we’d encourage you to continue to allow students to make wherever possible. This is one way of demonstrating the knowledge tested in the 2021 ‘Realising design ideas’ section and is the best way to inspire and enthuse students in the subject.

Analysing and evaluation

  • This section has been reduced from 20 to 15 marks
  • Analysis and evaluation throughout the design process can take place in relation to prototype ideas and models
  • There’s no expectation to test a final made prototype but students should find ways of testing prototype designs.

NEA will still count as 50% of the overall GCSE qualification.

No planned changes to exam

There are no planned changes to the exam. The same specification content should be covered as always; the exam questions and associated mark schemes will look the same as in previous years of this specification.

AS and A-level Design and Technology: Fashion and Textiles (7561, 7562); Product Design (7551, 7552)

All sections of the NEA up to and including ‘Development of design proposal’ will remain the same for 2021.

Changes for 2021

Development of design prototype

  • This section has been reduced from 25 to 15 marks at A-level, and from 20 to 10 marks at AS
  • Students will no longer be assessed on the skill of making but are required to show their ‘intentions of prototypes’ and demonstrate their understanding of the processes involved in making
  • The assessment no longer requires students to make a final prototype – instead, they can show their understanding of the processes involved in making by writing about them. However, making skills are important for progression to future study, and for students understanding, so we’d encourage you to continue to allow students to make wherever possible. This is one way of demonstrating the knowledge tested in the 2021 ‘Development of design prototype’ section and is the best way to inspire and enthuse students in the subject.

Analysing and evaluation

  • This section has been reduced from 20 to 15 marks at A-level and from 16 to 11 marks at AS
  • Analysis and evaluation throughout the design process can take place in relation to prototype ideas and models
  • There’s no expectation to test a final made prototype but students should find ways of testing prototype designs.

NEA will still count as 50% of the overall AS or A-level qualification.

No planned changes to exam

There are no planned changes to the exam. The same specification content should be covered as always; the exam questions and associated mark schemes will look the same as in previous years of this specification.

We understand that you’ll want to know more about these changes and what they mean for your subject for next summer. We’ll be publishing further guidance about the summer 2021 exams over the coming months.