International exams will still go ahead this summer for some IGCSE and A Level students. Exam board Cambridge has announced that it “plans for exams to go ahead in June 2021 where it is permitted and safe”; in countries including the UK, where schools are currently closed, Cambridge exams are most likely to be replaced with teacher assessed grades.
For several weeks, we have known that all GCSE and A Level exams in England and Wales are cancelled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. More recently, Pearson Edexcel and OxfordAQA have cancelled their IGCSE and A Level exams for the summer 2021 season in favour of awarding students with teacher assessed grades. And last week, the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) confirmed that there will be dual route model for the May 2021 Diploma Programme and Career-related Programme exams, with schools able to choose between exams or an assessment option.
In a letter to students published on Friday (February 12), Christine Özden, chief executive of Cambridge Assessment International Education, said:
“We are planning for exams to go ahead in June 2021 where it is permitted and safe. We know that exams are the best and fairest way of assessing a student’s performance.
“There is a small number of countries (such as Mexico and the UK) and regions within countries, where running exams may not be possible because of directives from national or regional authorities. For those countries and regions, we are looking at switching from exams to an approach based on teacher assessment.
“We are monitoring the situation in the 160 countries where we operate. If it becomes clear that exams cannot go ahead in your country or region, your school will let you know and they will switch to an approach based on teacher assessment.”
While many other exam boards are cancelling exams, Cambridge remains one of the few to go ahead as (almost) normal. The decision will affect many expat students in countries including the UAE, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as students at independent schools in the UK (many of which do a mix of IGCSEs and GCSEs).
“Cambridge International is an international exam board, and we work with schools in 160 countries. This means that we need to ensure that the decisions we make about exams work for as many of our schools as possible.
“Most of the schools we have surveyed have told us they want us to give students the opportunity to sit exams on the full syllabus, wherever it is possible. We also believe that exams are the best way to assess your knowledge and attainment. At the same time, we need to help students progress, even if they live in a country where the government has decided exams cannot go ahead.”