At a glance: how GCSEs and A levels will work in 2021

​​​​​​​The consultation on the 2021 GCSE and A-level exams has revealed what schools and students should expect this summer

Grainne Hallahan

exams consultation

The Department for Education is consulting on their current plans for exams – but what do those plans look like? Below is a brief overview; for full details, click here

What will happen when?

Teachers will assess students in May and the start of June, and then submit grades mid-June. Exam boards would then perform quality assurance and students will receive their results in mid July. Students will be allowed to appeal these grades, and in the first case, the appeals will be heard by the school.

Coursework should still be completed, and could inform the teacher-assessed grade (TAG).

What will these grades be comparable to?

These grades, like the 2020 CAGs, will be indistinguishable from other years. The consultation document proposes that teachers won’t be asked to predict what students might have achieved if the pandemic had not happened, and instead will be basing their assessments on the “standard at which their students are performing”.

What will the assessments look like?

The consultation proposes that the TAGs are evidence based, using a breadth of evidence, and this evidence needs to be recorded. Exam boards will be supporting teachers with guidance and training, including supplying exam papers that teachers can use, and offering moderation sampling.

The papers provided by the exam boards will be similar in style and format to those in normal exam papers, and provide a range to allow teachers to choose topics that their students have covered.

Teachers will also be able to use formal tests and mock exam results, and any completed coursework required for their subject. Work completed closer to the end of the academic year will be given more weighting. 

What will the consultation be asking?

The consultation will invite views on whether these papers should be compulsory or optional, and whether the teachers should be able to choose which topics their students can answer. It will also ask if teachers should be required to assess a certain percentage of the overall subject content for each subject, and if the marking should be carried out by teachers.

The consultation will also be asking for views on how to keep the exams produced by the exam board secure. Perhaps by asking that they are sat within a set period of time, or by producing a "menu" of papers. It will also ask for views on where these exams are sat, and if they should be able to be completed at home.

Further information

GCSEs 2021: Teachers to mark exam board questions

Exams: Ofqual's letter on summer grades

In full: Gavin Williamson's exams letter to Ofqual

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Grainne Hallahan

Grainne Hallahan

Grainne Hallahan is Tes recruitment editor and senior content writer at Tes

Find me on Twitter @heymrshallahan

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