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Proposed changes to the GCSE, AS and A Level assessments in 2022

Last Updated: 28 Jul, 2021

The Department of Education and Ofqual have teamed up to launch consultations on the arrangements of the 2022 exams and assessments. Keep reading to find out more about the proposed changes.

After the cancellation of formal exams in 2020 and 2021, the Department of Education and Ofqual have teamed up to launch consultations on the arrangements of GCSE, AS and A-level assessments in 2022.

During the 2020 and 2021 exam seasons, many students were left disappointed by the cancellation of exams, feeling that they had lost out on the opportunity to show their full potential. In 2022, the UK government plans to adjust the exam arrangements to ensure that students are given the best chance to do well. The new plans are guided by three principles: fairness, flexibility and certainty.


What are the main points of the proposal?


  1. Providing schools with a choice of topics or content that will be assessed in GCSE English literature, history, ancient history and geography 

For GCSE English literature, history and ancient history, the government has proposed that exam boards offer a choice of topics that will appear in the exams. GCSE geography students will be offered a choice of content. The same will not go for A level subjects. Given that A level students have more available time to study for their exams, it is not suggested that exam boards offer a choice of topic or content.


  1. Providing advance information of the focus of exam content where possible

For the majority of GCSE, AS and A level subjects, the government proposes that the exam boards provide advance notice of the focus of these exams. The only exceptions will be those subjects that are already offering a choice of topics (GCSE English literature, history, ancient history and geography).

It is proposed that the advance information be issued in the spring term to help students to focus their revision time, however this may be brought forward depending on the state of the pandemic.


  1. Giving students support materials in GCSE mathematics, physics and combined science

During Ofqual’s consultation in December 2020, 88% of respondents were in favour of students having access to support materials for some subjects at GCSE, AS and A level.

For GCSE Mathematics, the proposal suggests that students be allowed access to a formulae sheet in the exam room. Combined science and GCSE physics students should also be given an expanded equations sheet. This will include the 20 to 23 equations that they are required to recall during the examinations.


  1. Changing requirements for practical science work and practical art and design assessments

Similar to the 2021 assessments, teachers will be given the opportunity to demonstrate the practical science work in the syllabus. Furthermore, teachers will be allowed to assess the Common Practical Assessment Criteria (CPAC) for A level biology, chemistry, physics and geology across the minimum number of practical activities required for students to demonstrate their competence rather than students being required to complete at least 12 practical activities.

For GCSE, AS and A level art and design, students will be assessed on their portfolio only, as they were for the 2021 assessments. This means that they will not need to sit a task set by the exam board under timed, supervised conditions.



What about my grades?

As well as proposed adaptations to the exams, Ofqual is also considering the best way to grade the 2022 qualifications. They plan on announcing their decisions on grading this autumn after the 2021 results are released.



If you are a student, parent or teacher and think that these proposed changes may affect you, have your say by visiting the Ofqual website. The consultation will close on Sunday 1st August at 11:45pm.

If you are worried about your exams or need some last-minute revision tips, contact our expert consultants to see how we can help you.

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