GCSE Languages: arrangements for autumn 2021 exams

Wednesday 1 Sep 2021

Ofqual has confirmed that the planned adaptations to the GCSE Modern Foreign Langauges exams in summer 2021 will be put in place for the autumn 2021 series exams.

Here’s a reminder of what you and your students need to know for the autumn 2021 series.

Paper 4: Writing

There will be more optionality in the writing component, the writing papers will include an additional optional question for the overlap question at both tiers (question 4/question 1) and for Higher tier question 2. Students can answer on their preferred theme. For each optional question, the theme will be given in the introduction to the question in the question paper.

Foundation tier

  • There will be an additional option for question 4 and this will be numbered in the question paper as question 4.3. Students will need to answer one question from a choice of three.

Higher tier

  • There will be an additional option for question 1 and this will be numbered in the question paper as question 1.3. Students will need to answer one question from a choice of three.
  • There will be an additional option for question 2 and this will be numbered in the question paper as question 2.3. Students will need to answer one question from a choice of three.

We’ll be adding an extra five minutes to the scheduled exam time at both tiers for the Writing paper in autumn 2021, to give students time to read the optional questions. This means that:

  • the Foundation tier Writing exam will last for one hour and five minutes
  • the Higher tier Writing exam will last for one hour and 20 minutes.

Sample Foundation and Higher tier papers showing the autumn 2021 layout are available in assessment resources for each language. The sample papers are provided in French and demonstrate the layout and structure of the Writing papers for all GCSE languages in autumn 2021. The questions have been taken from existing French question papers and there’s no new content.

Vocabulary

Following the removal of the regulatory requirement for assessments to use words outside of vocabulary lists and the regulatory permission to gloss where necessary, we’ve reviewed all of our draft papers for the autumn 2021 exams. We will be making some changes at both tiers to reflect this. 

We may still include a small number of basic vocabulary items (eg primary colours, cognates/near cognates) not listed in the specification which will not be glossed and which students may need to understand in order to answer the questions. This is because excluding such items from the assessments is likely to increase the demand of the tasks.

Speaking endorsement

The speaking endorsement can be taken in autumn 2021 by students entered for the GCSE 9-1 in the autumn 2021 series, or they can carry forward their endorsement level from summer 2021. Find out more about the Autumn exam series.