What Will GCSEs and A Levels Look Like in 2022?

Ofqual has announced changes to how GCSEs and A Levels will be graded next year and what students will be tested on. Here we detail the key changes we can look forward to...
What Will GCSEs and A Levels Look Like 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. Following a public consultation, the UK government and Ofqual has confirmed changes such as a choice of topics in some GCSE exams like English literature and history; advance information on the focus of exams to focus students’ revision on subjects, where there is not a choice of topics; and support materials like formulae sheets in maths.

The government is “firmly committed” to exams going ahead next year, after they were cancelled for two years’ running due to the pandemic. Exams will be adapted for one year to take account of the impact of factors such as school closures and online learning on the education of this year’s final year GCSE and A Level students.

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.” 

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

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

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.

The same adaptations will be made for students sitting GCSE/A Level exams in November 2021.

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