GCSEs 2022: Reference test used to measure Covid impact

The National Reference Test will explore impact of the pandemic on learning but not yet clear if it will help shape 2022 exam grades

Catherine Lough

GCSEs and A levels 2022: Grades to be lower than 2020 or 2021, Ofqual reveals

The National Reference Test (NRT) will be used to measure the impact of coronavirus on pupils’ education in 2022 but it is unclear whether it will influence the setting of exam grades next summer.

This year, the test was not used in the awarding of GCSE grades but Ofqual said it provided information about the impact of lost learning on that cohort of pupils during the Covid crisis.


GCSEs: National Reference Tests to show Covid 'impact'

National Reference Test 2020: What you need to know

Related: Need to know: the GCSE National Reference Test


Data from the 2021 NRT has not yet been released.

Today, Ofqual confirmed that the NRT will go ahead in 2022 and will again be used to provide “longitudinal evidence” about the impact of the pandemic on pupils.

A spokesperson for Ofqual told Tes that any final decision about how the NRT will be used to set standards in GCSE English language and maths will be made next year when the test results are available.

“In a typical year, the information from the test is used to help set standards in GCSE English language and maths, and the results are considered by Ofqual and the exam boards prior to GCSEs being awarded,” Ofqual said.

“The results of the 2021 test are being used to consider the impact of lost learning during the Covid-19 pandemic and to help understand the context of the 2021 cohort when they take other qualifications in the future.

“In 2022, the results will again provide important longitudinal evidence about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on education for school leaders, exam boards and policymakers.”

The NRT was designed to provide evidence on changes in the performance of 16-year-olds in English language and maths in England.

Each year, around 350 schools are selected to take the test, with a random sample of 60 pupils selected to sit tests – 30 sitting the NRT in maths and 30 in English language.

The tests will take place in schools over a two-week period administered by the National Foundation for Educational Research, between 28 February and 8 April 2022.

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

Latest stories