UPDATE: Changes to 2022 "Transition Year" Exams

2022 has been labelled “a transition year” for GCSE and A levels by Ofqual as plans were revealed today for exams to go ahead with a grading system that aims to “maximise fairness”. Papers will be marked more leniently than 2019 but not as generously as 2021. 

The exam regulator has also revealed plans to use teacher assessed grades if Covid leads to the cancellation of exams for the third year running.

Pupils sitting exams in England will also be offered exam aids and a choice of topics in some exams during the 2022 summer series. Some education leaders have labelled the exam mitigations as “sensible”, while others warn they could lead to unfair '”topic lottery” for students. Either way, revision guidance won’t be issued until February 2022. 

In today’s announcement Dr Jo Saxton, Chief Regulator of Ofqual, said: 

“We want to get back quickly to the pre-pandemic standard, but in the interests of fairness, and balancing these objectives, we won’t do so in one jump.” 

“This approach will recognise the disruption experienced by students taking exams in 2022, over their course of study, and so provide a safety net for those who might otherwise just miss out on a higher grade. Results overall will be higher than in 2019, but not as high as in 2020.”

The intention is to return to pre-pandemic grading in 2023 but to keep the current grading system in place – so no introduction of numerical grades at A level or grade 10 at GCSE.

What changes are being made to GCSEs and A-levels next year? 

• Ofqual’s approach been set out as “fair to students”.

• 2022 labelled “a transition year”.

• Grade boundaries will be set between 2021 and pre-pandemic levels.

• Firm intention for exams to return in 2022 with a consultation launched to agree a Plan B for teacher assessed grades if exams need to be cancelled for a third year due to Covid.

• Choice of topics or content in some GCSEs including English literature, history, ancient history and geography. 

• For other subjects, students will have advance notice of exam topics to focus their revision by no later than 7 February 2022. 

• In GCSE maths, students will be provided with formulae sheets, and they will be able to use equation sheets in GCSE physics and combined science.

• Teachers told that UCAS predicted grades should “use the familiar 2019 standard” but should give borderline students the benefit of the doubt.

• Schools to be given guidance for a Plan B if exams have to be cancelled including using teacher assessed grades, asking schools to collect evidence throughout the year and information on how internal assessments should be run – just in case.

• Department for Education and the exams watchdog are seeking views on the guidance for contingency plans. The consultation closes on October 13.

• Results days are back to normal in 2022. A level results released on 18 August and GCSEs on 25 August. 

Open Consultation on Plan B in case exam cancelled 
Contingency arrangements: GCSE, AS, A level, Project and AEA

Full report on plans for 2022 A levels and GCSEs
Ofqual’s approach to grading exams and assessments in summer 2022 and autumn 2021

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