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Exams 2021

Skills for Life Network

An overview of the current situation regarding GCSE, National and A level exams next summer in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

England

GCSE and A level exams are still set to go ahead in England next year, but with a three week delay. Key points:

  • More generous grading, advance notice of exam topics and additional papers are promised by the Department for Education to make up for the disruption faced by students during the pandemic.
  • Those who cannot sit exams due to self-isolation rules will still get a grade.
  • The summer exam series will start on 7 June and end on 2 July for almost all AS/A levels and GCSEs. This will allow students more time to prepare, to help address the disruption caused by the pandemic.
  • Results days will be Tuesday 24th of August for A/AS levels and Friday 27th of August for GCSEs.
  • The Department for Education says it expects vocational qualifications to also align with this changed timetable. 

For more information, see Guidance to support the summer 2021 exams: What schools, colleges and students need to know about taking GCSEs, AS and A levels and other qualifications in summer 2021 on the gov.uk website.

You can read about arrangements that were made for GCSE exams and functional skills assessments in England in 2020 here

Wales

An independent review set up by the Welsh Government concluded that any form of exams in 2021 would be unfair. Exam regulator Qualifications Wales also said GCSE exams should be cancelled but some A-level exams should still take place. Education Minister Kirsty Williams has now considered both recommendations and announced on the 10th of November that Wales’ GCSE, AS and A-level exams in summer 2021 are to be cancelled, with grades based on classroom assessments. Assessments will be done under teacher supervision, and will begin in the second half of the spring term. They will be externally set and marked but delivered within the classroom. Read more

Scotland

In Scotland, the GCSE-equivalent National 5 exams are cancelled and replaced by teacher assessments and coursework, but Higher and Advanced Higher exams will just be delayed by two weeks. Read more

Northern Ireland

Exams in Northern Ireland are still going ahead but the number of papers in some subjects has been reduced. However, Northern Ireland’s Children’s Commissioner Koulla Yiasouma has called on next summer’s school exams to be cancelled. Read more

Further Information

No further information
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