Changes for 2021

This page may be out of date

The Government announced on 6 January that exams won’t go ahead as normal in summer 2021, so some of this information may change. We’ll update this page as soon as further detail becomes available.

Read about 2021 exam changes

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.

Performing music duration changes

The following changes relate to 3.2 Performing music.

  • Students will now need to submit either one solo performance with a duration of at least a minute and a half, or one ensemble performance with a duration of at least two minutes.
  • A complete, unedited recording of the live performance must be submitted with the score or lead sheet for that performance (if available).
  • Teachers will mark the piece out of 36.

Compositions a minimum of two minutes

The following changes relate to 3.3 Composing music.

  • Students will now need to compose one piece of music with a duration of at least two minutes.
  • Compositions may be in response to a set brief or be freely composed.
  • Submissions must include a complete recording of the composition with a score, lead sheet or written account produced by the student.
  • Students don’t have to perform their own composition.
  • The recording may be computer generated.
  • Teachers will mark the one piece out of 36.

Access to listening material

Component 1: Understanding music

As well as providing the CD for the exam, for the 2021 exam series and onwards, we’ll also be releasing electronic (.wav) files on e-AQA secure key materials (SKM) on the day before the exam.

Full instructions for downloading these files will be included in the teacher notes released on SKM on 1 April 2021 and in an email which we’ll send to you nearer the time.

Covid safe recording

Components 2 and 3

In situations where students have to work from home or the playing of any instruments or singing is restricted in the school or college for an extended period of time, we recommend that you allow students to record performances in another location where they have access to equipment of suitable sound quality.

Teachers will need to be able to confidently authenticate the recordings as the student’s own work, either through regular progress reviews or being virtually present at the time of recording.

All accompanying paperwork as detailed in the specification should be provided along with the audio recordings. Teachers will need to provide details of how the recording was authenticated on the candidate record form.

No other changes

There are no planned changes to the Component 1 written exam.

The 2021 composition briefs are on e-AQA.

The minimum time penalty will apply as normal to the new minimum time requirement. The size of the reduction is proportionate to the severity of the timing infringement, starting with 5% of the total available raw mark for work.

The assessment criteria in the specification remain the same, as do the component weightings.

There are no changes to the moderation process of components 2 and 3.

Help and support

Please contact your NEA adviser for further support on conducting the NEA.

If you don’t know who your NEA adviser is, your exams officer will have these details, or you can contact us.