Changes for 2021

Following Ofqual’s announcement about summer 2021, here are the changes you need to know about.

Please bear in mind that these changes apply to summer 2021 only.

Only three out of four studies required

For the 2021 summer series, GCSE History students will only have to answer questions on three out of four studies. There will be a mixture of compulsory and optional studies.

The compulsory study will be the wider world depth study (Paper 1, Section B).

Students will also answer questions on two out of the other three optional studies:

  • the period study (Paper 1, Section A)
  • the thematic study (Paper 2, Section A)
  • the British depth study with the historic environment (Paper 2, Section B).

Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPaG) mark allocation

In normal years, 8 marks are allocated to assessing SPaG, with 4 marks in the wider world depth study and 4 marks in the thematic study.

However, we’re reducing the overall number of marks allocated to assessing SPaG to 4 marks. We’re removing the SPaG marks from question 4 on the optional thematic study. This will ensure that all students will be marked out of the same total number of marks, and have access to the same number of SPaG mark opportunities, regardless of the combination of optional topics chosen.

SPaG marks will now only be attached to question 4 on the compulsory wider world depth study.

Total mark allocation reduced

In normal years, students are marked out of a total of 168 marks for GCSE History.

However, in 2021 students will be marked out of a total of 124 marks:

  • 44 marks will be allocated to the compulsory study, including 4 marks for SPaG.
  • 40 marks will be allocated to each of the optional studies. Students will answer questions from two of these optional studies.

This change is necessary because of the reduction in SPaG marks (see above) and because students will only answer questions on three out of four studies.

Total exam time reduced

In normal years, students have four hours of total exam time for GCSE History.

However, in 2021 students will have three hours of exam time in total, equating to one hour per study.

We will update the front sheet of the question papers to reflect this change.

Changes will also be made to the GCSE History exam timetable for summer 2021. We will publish further information once these changes are confirmed.

Entry codes will change

The alterations for 2021 also mean that the normal entry codes for GCSE History will have to be changed to reflect the new entry route combinations. These are currently being finalised, so we will publish further guidance about making entries in 2021 once the new entry codes are confirmed.

No other changes

The format and wording of the questions will remain exactly the same, as will the mark-schemes for each question.

The specification content for each individual topic will also remain the same.

The historic environment sites for 2021 are unchanged. The resource packs for these 2021 sites are available on e-AQA.

Help and support

If you require further guidance, please contact us.