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Exams 2021: FAQs

Updated: 24.03.21

Exams 2021: FAQs

Updated: May 27th, 2021

1. What is happening to exams this academic year?

The government has released guidance on exams, and how schools and colleges should award qualifications this year in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

For most of our students completing vocational and academic qualifications, the government has confirmed that some exams are not going ahead this year, including GCSE English and maths. 

However, there are some exceptions to this, where exams will still go ahead. This includes: 

  • Subjects where it is critical for vocational students to be able to demonstrate occupational or professional competence in order to complete their qualification and enter employment e.g. Dental  
  • Functional Skills English, Maths and ICT qualifications 
  • ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) qualifications 

2. What about the impact of Covid-19?

The safety of our students and staff remains our number one priority. Please be assured that where exams take place, this will be done safely and in a Covid-19 secure manner.

The College is also committed to ensuring that no student is left disadvantaged as a result of the pandemic and is here to support you to achieve the very best grade you can.

This year, tutors will only assess students on the content they have been taught because of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The assessments differ on a course by course basis. If you have any further questions, please contact your tutors who will be able to explain in more detail what this means for you. 

3. Do I still need to attend classes if most exams are not going ahead?

Yes. It is very important that you continue to attend and engage with your college lessons, whether they are online or face-to-face, and complete any work set for you. If you do not engage, it will be difficult for your tutors to give you a grade.

Please remember, we are here to support you through this so if you are struggling or need any extra support, please ask and contact your tutors in the first instance. 

4. How will grades be awarded in the absence of exams?

Colleges have been asked to submit teacher-assessed grades for students to exam boards in June 2021. These grades will be subject to a thorough internal and external quality assurance process with the exam board having the final say about your grades.

Please note that teacher-assessed grades are not being applied to all qualifications. There are some qualifications where students’ work will be assessed as normal and that will, therefore, not require teacher-assessed grades.

If you have any further questions, please contact your tutors who will be able to explain in more detail what this means for you. 

5. What will teacher-assessed grades be based on?

Teacher-assessed grades will be based on your performance throughout your course. Students will only be assessed on what they have been taught.

When determining the grade, tutors are required to reflect the standard at which you are performing now, not your potential. You will not be told what grade has been submitted for you.

The guidance issued by the government identifies evidence which your tutors can use to inform their decision about your final grade. This evidence can include:

  • Key pieces of work in some subjects.
  • Any coursework that has been completed or partially completed.
  • Assessments already completed. 
  • Teacher estimates from throughout the year. 
  • In-class assessments scheduled after Easter.
  • Mock exams and tests you have already completed.
  • Records of progress and performance over the course of study.

The assessments differ on a course by course basis. If you have any further questions, please contact your tutors.

6. Will grades also be decided by an algorithm, as was the case last year?

No. This year’s grades will not be determined by a computerised formula.

7. Will grades be assessed against a national standard where they do need to be teacher-assessed?

Yes. Grades will be based on a process involving teacher assessment against national standards defined by the awarding bodies and exam boards.

The awarding bodies and exam boards will review all schools’ and colleges’ internal quality assurance processes before they submit grades to ensure they are rigorous and in line with national standards.

8. What should students do to maximise their success?

It is very important that you continue to attend all classes whether on campus or remotely and complete all the work that is set for you.

9. Can students discuss their grades with their tutors?

Tutors can discuss with you the evidence that they are using to inform their judgement including marked or graded pieces of work. However, they are not permitted to disclose their final submitted grade give to the exam board.

10. Can students appeal their grades?

Students will have the right to appeal their grade if they think their grade is wrong. Grades can go up, down or stay the same as the result of an appeal.

Your first step should be to speak to the College to get feedback and advice. The deadline for an appeal is September 17th, 2021.

You can only appeal for the following reasons:

  • There was an error in the way the College followed or applied its procedure for determining your teacher assessed grade.
  • The College did not make a reasonable judgement when deciding which evidence to use to determine your teacher assessed grade.
  • The College did not make a reasonable judgement about your grade based on the evidence gathered.

In the event, that the exam board finds a grade is not reasonable, they will determine the alternative grade and inform the College.

In cases of disagreement between the College and the exam board, or if the student disagrees with the centre or the exam board, the case can be referred to Ofqual’s Exams Procedure Review Service (EPRS).

The exam board’s decision on the grade following appeal will stand unless the EPRS finds that the exam board has made a procedural error.

11. When will students receive their results?

Students will receive their results for A and AS Levels on the August 10th, 2021 and GCSEs on August 12th, 2021.

Results for vocational qualifications that are linked to progression to further or higher education, including some BTECs, will also be issued to students on or before these dates.

The publication of vocational qualifications will vary according to the awarding body.

Useful resources

For more information, please read Ofqual’s Student Guide to Awarding: Summer 2021, published on May 13th, 2021.

The Department for Education’s Awarding Qualifications in Summer 2021 guidance document also has more information.

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