GCSEs 2021: New details on advance material for exams

WATCH: Material for GCSEs and A levels should not be so detailed that students can memorise stock answers, says Ofqual
10th December 2020, 4:01pm
Catherine Lough

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GCSEs 2021: New details on advance material for exams

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/gcses-2021-new-details-advance-material-exams
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Ofqual has revealed new parameters for the advance exam materials the 2021 cohort will receive in January.

Launching a consultation into the matter closing on 20 December, the regulator revealed today the basic ground rules for the material.


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Ofqual has set out three basic "principles" in its consultation. That: 

  1. The advance information should not be so detailed that students are able to memorise answers to write in the exam. This would give an advantage to students who are good at memorising or rote learning - it wouldn't be a true assessment of the student's ability. Students might also memorise answers that someone else had written, so the exam would not be a true assessment of the student's ability in a subject.
  2. The advance information should not be so extensive or specific that it will damage a student's progression to higher level qualifications in the subject. Students will focus on the topics that they know will be covered in the exam, but there are some aspects of the content that will be important to be able to study the subject at a higher level. The advance information shouldn't discourage students from investing in further learning.
  3. It should still be possible to differentiate between students on the basis of their performance. The results of these qualifications will be used as an important measure of a student's ability when they apply for jobs, or to universities, schools and colleges for further learning. It should be possible to identify stronger and weaker candidates, despite the use of advance information. It shouldn't allow students to predict the questions and prepare answers in advance.

The consultation asks respondents whether they are in favour of students being told in advance "some of the topics on which exam questions will or will not focus" for next year's GCSE and A level exams.

And it also asks if there are any subjects "for which information about exam topics should not be given to students in advance of the exam".

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