GCSEs: National Reference Tests to show Covid 'impact'

Test will not be used to inform GCSE grading but 'will provide important evidence about the impact of lost learning'

Catherine Lough

GCSEs: National Reference Test will take place this year to 'show Covid effect', says Ofqual

The National Reference Test will be going ahead this year to measure students' learning loss during the pandemic.

This year, the test will not be used in the awarding of GCSE grades, but its results "will provide important evidence about the impact of lost learning during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and help to understand the context of the 2021 cohort when they take other qualifications in the future", a statement from Ofqual says.

"The results will also provide valuable longitudinal data which can then be used to help set standards and inform GCSE awarding in future years," it adds.


National Reference Test 2020: What you need to know

Related: Need to know: the GCSE National Reference Test

Coronavirus: 'Use national test to check GCSE grades'


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 be administered in schools between 19 April and 21 May 2021.  

The National Foundation for Educational Research will carry out the tests on Ofqual's behalf.

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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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