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This page may be out of date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 changes to assessment in summer 2021, here's what you need to know for AS and A-level Physics.

Please note: these changes only apply to assessments being completed this academic year.

AS practicals to be studied through demonstrations

Students can study the required practical activities by observing demonstrations and/or simulations, if it’s not possible for them to carry out the practical activities personally.

This permission only applies to students who are following an AS science pathway and aren’t intending to progress to A-level in 2021-2022. Students intending to follow an A-level pathway in Biology, Chemistry or Physics are required to carry out sufficient practical activities in order to meet the Common Practical Assessment Criteria (CPAC).

Using teacher demonstrations and simulations will enable teachers to provide effective learning opportunities to develop understanding of the skills required at this level.

Where possible, students should still carry out the required practical activities, but we recognise that this may not be possible in all situations.

Minimum number of A-level practical assessments allowed

  • A-level Biology, Chemistry and Physics students will be assessed against the Common Practical Assessment Criteria (CPAC) across the minimum number of practical activities required to demonstrate competence in all aspects. The minimum number of practical activities required will be at the teacher’s discretion. You must be confident that students are competent in all aspects of the CPAC, including coverage of the apparatus and techniques the specification
  • we will monitor a school or college’s application of CPAC by remote means for students following A-level Biology, Chemistry and Physics courses. Information about this process can be found on the A-level Science Practicals pages
  • you’ll still need to submit a signed centre declaration form for students taking exams in A-level Biology, Chemistry and/or Physics in 2021.

This will make it easier for teachers to plan and deliver the practical activities.

It should also still enable students to learn about the practical apparatus, techniques and processes in enough depth to demonstrate their understanding in exams.

Where possible, students should still carry out all of the practical activities, but we recognise that this may not be possible.

No other changes

There are no planned changes to our assessments for AS and A-level Biology (7401, 7402), Chemistry (7404, 7405), Physics (7407, 7408) and Environmental Science (7446, 7447) in 2021.

Summer 2021 exams in the A-level Science specifications will follow the same structure and format as those in summer 2019. They will assess all of the components and objectives described in the specifications, including students’ knowledge and understanding of the apparatus and techniques and the required practical activities.

Help and support

Professional development: free online training and resources

We’ve developed a Preparing for 2021 support package for GCSE science specifications and A-level Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

This support program for teachers and students will help build students’ core skills, identify gaps in learning and re-engage students who are returning to the classroom.

AQA Technician adviser online support

We offer technician support, where teachers and technicians can access guidance and support with practical activities. Experienced science technician adviser Dr Maxine Opperman is on hand to help. You can email Maxine directly with your questions at

Contact us

If you require further guidance, please contact us.