2021 and 2022 exam changes

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Consultation decisions: GCSE, AS and A-level exams summer 2022

Published:Thursday 30 Sep 2021

The Department for Education (DfE) and Ofqual have confirmed the arrangements for summer 2022 GCSE, AS and A-level exams.

Summary of arrangements

These changes are for 2022 only.

Advance information

To help students revise, exam boards will provide advance information about the focus of exams for all subjects at GCSE, AS and A-level – with the exception of:

  • GCSE English Literature
  • GCSE History
  • GCSE Geography
  • GCSE and A-level Art and Design

Ofqual and the DfE have decided that exam boards will publish advance information by 7 February 2022 – or earlier if the impact of the pandemic worsens.

Optionality

Schools and colleges will be given some choice about the topics or content that students will be assessed on in the following qualifications only:

  • GCSE English Literature
  • GCSE History
  • GCSE Geography

We can already confirm the options for GCSE English Literature and GCSE History.

Formulae sheets

Students will be given a formulae sheet in GCSE Maths and a revised equations sheet in GCSE Physics and GCSE Combined Science covering all the equations required in the subject content.

We will make these sheets available to schools for use in teaching and so students can familiarise themselves with them. They will also be provided in the exams.

Practical work

There will be changes to the practical work requirements of some subjects:

  • GCSE and A-level Art and Design students will only be assessed on their portfolio.
  • GCSE Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Combined Science, AS Biology, Chemistry, Physics and A-level Environmental Science – teachers will have the opportunity to deliver practical science work by demonstration.
  • Practical Endorsement for A-level Biology, Chemistry, and Physics – teachers are allowed to assess the Common Practical Assessment Criteria (CPAC) across the minimum number of practical activities required for students to be able to demonstrate their competence. CPAC applications can be monitored remotely by exam boards.

Non-exam assessment (NEA)

Ofqual published its decisions on arrangements for NEA in June, and we’ve already confirmed the NEA changes for most of our relevant qualifications.

GCSE Modern Foreign Languages (MFL)

  • Exam boards will not have to include vocabulary that’s not on the vocabulary lists for assessments in GCSE MFL.
  • Exam boards will include an extra optional question in the writing assessment to help students to focus on fewer themes in their writing.
  • Teachers and students should prepare for spoken language in 2022 to be assessed in the normal way, through formal speaking tests. There will be a contingency of using the published criteria to award an endorsed grade if it’s not possible for the formal tests to go ahead as planned.

Arrangements still to be confirmed

These are the only general qualifications where there’s still some information to come about the arrangements for 2022:

Optionality in GCSE Geography

All exam boards are working together to finalise how the optionality will work. We know teachers need this information quickly so they can plan – we’ll let you know as soon as possible.

Non-exam assessment (NEA) in GCSE and A-level PE

We’re planning for live moderation visits to go ahead as normal for summer 2022, and we’ll be back in touch with more guidance in the next few weeks.

Vocational Technical and other qualifications (VTQs)

Ofqual and the DfE published their decisions on the arrangements for VTQs in summer 2022 back in August. We always do our best to align our VTQs where we can with our GCSEs, AS and A-levels, so we’ve been waiting for the decisions on these qualifications to be able confirm our plans. We’ll confirm our arrangements for summer 2022 soon.

Contingency arrangements

We hope exams will be able to go ahead as planned next summer, but Ofqual and the DfE have launched a short consultation on contingency arrangements in case they can’t. These proposals include using grades provided by schools and colleges for GCSEs, AS and A-levels. We’ll be responding to this and you can share your thoughts too. The consultation runs until 13 October 2021. The DfE has published separate guidance on the contingency plans for VTQs.

Grading in autumn 2021 and summer 2022

Ofqual has also confirmed its plans for grading standards for both autumn 2021 and summer 2022. In their blog they’ve explained that they’d like to get back quickly to the pre-pandemic standard, but in the interests of fairness this will be a gradual process.

For the autumn series, exam boards will look to align with summer 2021. Summer 2022 will be a transition year to reflect that we’re in a pandemic recovery period – then, in 2023, Ofqual will aim to return to results that are in line with those in pre-pandemic years.

Results days in summer 2022

The DfE and Ofqual have confirmed that the summer 2022 results days will be one week apart as usual. This means AS, A-level and similar VTQ results will be published on Thursday 18 August, and GCSEs and similar VTQ results will be on Thursday 25 August.

We're here to support you

We’re updating the qualification pages on our website to reflect the consultation decisions.

We’re here to support you and guide you through the arrangements for summer 2022. So please get in touch if you have any questions.

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