Will Students Sit GCSEs and A Levels in 2022?

Will exams go ahead this year? How will GCSEs and A Levels be graded, and what will students be tested on. We detail the key changes for all secondary and sixth form students in 2022...
Will Students Sit GCSEs and A Levels in 2022?
By Carli Allan
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The 2022 GCSE and A Level exams in England will be adapted to help manage the disruption caused to this year’s students as a result of Covid-19. Exams will be adapted for one year to take account of the impact of factors such as school closures and online learning on GCSE and A Level students.

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com rounds up what the key changes will be…

GCSE and A Level exams, as well as vocational and technical qualifications, WILL go ahead this year.

The UK government says it is “firmly committed” to exams going ahead this year, after they were cancelled for two years’ running due to the pandemic. Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi told Sly News this week that the summer exams will be held, and more information would be released in a few weeks' time.

Speaking on Sky News, Mr Zahawi said:

"We are going further and working with Ofqual to say ''we do want to go back to pre-covid grading and the robustness of the grading system'', but we are going to do it in two steps.
"We are going to go to the medium between the teacher assessment and the pre-Covid for this summer, and then we will go to pre-Covid grading the year after."

GCSE/A Level grades will be higher than in 2019 – but lower than in 2020

During the last two years, when exams were cancelled and students were awarded teacher-assessed grades, there has been an overall higher proportion of students receiving top grades compared to pre-pandemic years. Ofqual announced today that grade boundaries will be set by exam boards at a midway point between 2021 and 2019 (when students last sat their exams). This means that more students will get higher grades in 2022 than before the pandemic, but they will be lower than the two years when teacher assessment was used.

Ofqual Chief Regulator Dr Jo Saxton, said:

“The interests of learners are central to Ofqual’s mandate. For us, that means fairness. It means qualifications that stand the test of time, that employers, colleges and universities can trust. Our grading approach will recognise the disruption experienced by students taking exams in 2022.
"It will provide a safety net for those who might otherwise just miss out on a higher grade, while taking a step back to normal.”

Choice of exam topics and advance notice for revision

For summer 2022, students taking GCSE English literature, history, ancient history and geography will be offered a choice of topics in their exam. For all other GCSE and A Level subjects, students will be given advance information about exam topics by February 7, 2022 at the latest to help them plan their revision.

Formula and equation sheets for maths and science

For summer 2022, students will be given a formulae sheet for GCSE maths and equation sheets for GCSE physics and combined science, which can be used in the classroom, for revision and in the exam.

A return to centre-assessed practical work

Students can return to completing practical work in GCSE biology, chemistry, physics, combined science, geology and astronomy, AS level biology, chemistry, physics and geology, and AS and A Level environmental science, after these hands-on activities were cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Students taking GCSE, AS and A Level art and design will be assessed on their portfolio only.

2022 exam results return to the original date

Results days for exams in 2022 will return to their normal format, with AS and A Levels being released on August 18, and GCSEs on August 25. Vocational qualifications will be issued on or before the same days, or throughout the year.

Will students be able to sit online GCSE and A Level exams this year?

No, but there is a possibility that GCSEs and A Levels may switch to online by 2025. More than 2,000 students in the UK will trial online GCSEs this spring, as part of a pilot run by the UK's largest exam board, AQA.

What about BTECs and other vocational qualifications?

Ofqual has not announced specific measures for BTECs and other vocational qualifications, but it has recommended that a similar approach to GCSEs and A Levels be taken by the examining boards.

The UK government and Ofqual confirmed the above changes after a public consultation in 2021. The consultation gathered more than 6,000 responses – with almost a quarter from students.

Education Secretary  Nadhim Zahawi said:

“We’ve put fairness at the heart of our approach and listened to pupils, teachers and parents. The measures we’re putting in place will  help reduce the impact of the significant disruption this group of young people  have had to face – allowing them to move onto the next stage of their lives.
“We are committed to rigorous standards being fairly applied, and exams are the fairest way to assess students, which is why  they will take place next year. The return to exams means  teachers will be able to focus on teaching  and helping students catch up on their learning, while adaptations ensure fairness for students and help them to focus their revision.” 


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