Exam prep

An update on the government’s plans for teacher assessed grades as an alternative to exams in 2021

March 7, 2021
  •  
3 mins
Sara Wright
Community Manager

Following the news in January 2021 that summer exams were cancelled, on Thursday 25th February 2021 the government revealed their plans on how A-level, AS level and GCSE students will be assessed. The statement confirmed that there would be no grade predicting algorithm, greater flexibility towards course content and the range of evidence collected, a later results release date and private candidates will be assessed in a similar way to other students.

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Last week the Department for Education confirmed that teacher assessed grades based on a wide range of evidence will be used to determine A-level, AS level and GCSE students' grades in 2021 instead of exams. Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson stated that this “approach should give students confidence, maximise remaining teaching time and be flexible to accommodate changes to public health advice.” 


The announcement also indicates that private candidates should be assessed in a similar manner to other students by an accredited exam centre, using a wide range of evidence which will be specified by Ofqual. The exams regulator acknowledged that private candidates’ different circumstances should be taken into account and the adjustment includes the need for some assessments to happen remotely where necessary. 


The decision about how students will be assessed was discussed during a two week consultation in January 2021. Considerations of how to fairly and accurately assess students whilst taking into account the impact that the pandemic has had on their learning were assessed during this consultation and the following conclusions were reached:



  • There will be no algorithm to determine grades. 
  • Students will only be tested on course content covered in their teaching sessions. Due to the exceptional circumstances and disruption caused to learning, teachers will try to deliver as much of the curriculum as possible but decide which topics to focus on and assess students with respectively. 
  • Teachers will be given assessment materials from individual exam boards which contain sets of questions, for all relevant GCSE, AS and A level subjects, taking a consistent approach across exam boards for each subject.
  • The evidence gathered by educators can include mock exams, published and unpublished exam questions, coursework and essay responses. 
  • To ensure fair and consistent standards are being met within exam centres, they will be subject to internal quality assurance checks and samples will be taken from centres to ensure quality and consistent standards are being met.
  • A Level and AS level results will be released on August 10th and GCSE’s will be released on the 12th August. This is to allow for as much time as possible to thoroughly assess candidates' evidence and ensure quality assurance policies are in place whilst also giving enough time for appeals processes to be carried out. 
  • It is likely that there will be an opportunity for students who are not satisfied with their initial grade to improve upon their teacher assessed grade by entering the Autumn exam series. 
  • If a student believes their teacher has made an error in grading them, the appeals process will go through the school first, then if a student wants to take it further the exam board will assess whether the school conducted a “reasonable exercise of academic judgement.”


Image from Unsplash under “exam.”


As a private exam centre, AEC is committed to helping students achieve their best during this exceptional time. If you have any questions, please do get in touch.


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