GCSE and A level exams How will exams be handled in 2021?
This page was updated on 19th January 2021.
We will be updating this page as and when we receive the latest information from the government and relevant awarding bodies. Please continue to check back on this page for the latest Summer 2021 exams news. Thank you for your patience at this time.
Ofqual Open Consultation - deadline 29th January
Open consultation on how GCSE, AS and A level grades should be awarded in summer 2021:
Ofqual have published a consultation document about the cancellation of the summer exams. We encourage students and other interested parties, for example, parents, to read it and to send in your comments on the proposals by the deadline of 29th January.
Follow the link for further information: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-how-gcse-as-and-a-level-grades-should-be-awarded-in-summer-2021
FAQs: Summer 2021 Examinations A level and GCSE - updated 11th January 2021
The following FAQs are correct as of 11th January 2021 and have been developed in good faith using the information that we have to date. Please be aware that NEC has to follow the guidance provided by Ofqual and the awarding bodies.
The Education Secretary has confirmed that GCSE, AS and A level exams will not go ahead this summer and will be replaced by a form of teacher-assessed grades. The awarding bodies are currently working with Ofqual and the Department for Education to understand the implications of the announcement and will release further details to schools, colleges and learning providers once these details are confirmed. We will of course update students as a matter of urgency.
Pearson Edexcel have announced that IGCSE exams will go ahead as normal in summer 2021.
CIE are yet to make a decision, but have expressed their desire to proceed as normal with exams.https://www.cambridgeinternational.org/news/news-details/view/update-for-cambridge-schools-on-2021-exam-series-20210108/. Decisions on exams are likely to be made locally, so we will keep you informed.
The information below is not relevant to your IGCSE exam booking and you should continue to prepare for the examinations as planned. Should this decision change, we will of course let you know.
Yes. Although we are waiting for clarity on the form of assessment that will replace exams, you must still have an exam booking in place to be eligible for a grade.
Check with your centre. If your private centre is happy to generate and submit a centre assessment grade (without assistance from NEC) for you then this is not a problem. However, if they want NEC to send a grade to them, or if they are unable to help at all, you will need to cancel this entry and enter through NEC.
You can find the exam application form and information by clicking here. You must book your exams as a matter of urgency. You must have an exam booking with NEC in order to be eligible for a grade from NEC.
Although we have not yet been sent the details of how grades will be awarded this summer, based on last year, the assessment will likely be weighted heavily on assignment submissions.
When the situation about the exams was uncertain, we were advising students that they should have completed at least 80% of their academic course assignments to be eligible for a centre assessment grade.With this in mind, if you are not already at the halfway mark in your course, it is unlikely that you will now have the time to be able to get the rest of your assignments produced to a standard that best reflects your true ability.
We would therefore advise you to aim for summer 2022.
Until we have further guidance from Ofqual and the awarding bodies it is difficult for us to say for certain what will and won’t be acceptable. However, we do know that we will need to see a clear picture of progression during the course of your enrolment period. For now we would advise you to continue to work through your course.
All students that have entered for their exams at one of NEC’s partnership exam centres will be contacted as soon as we have more information about the assessment process and criteria. However, If you have not completed around 50% of your course by this point (Jan 21), it is unlikely that we will be able to support your request for a centre assessment grade. However, you are able to defer your exam entry to the next available exam session at no extra charge.
Yes. Continue to work steadily through your course or courses. However, please do not upload multiple assignments at once. You must continue to upload assignments one by one and wait for your tutor's feedback before submitting the next one. It is crucial that you demonstrate consistent progression by submitting assignments one by one and taking note of the feedback provided by your tutor/s.
We have been advising students that if centre assessment grades are awarded in summer 2021 they would need to have completed at least 80% of their academic course assignments to be eligible for an award. The more assignments you have completed, the better position you will be in for a centre assessed grade and you should therefore aim to complete all of your assignments.
Please remember to reference your work appropriately and ensure that you avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism may be accidental, for example if you forget to acknowledge the source of material you include in your assignment, or it may be deliberate.
NEC will not accept any plagiarised work, and when this is identified, either by a tutor or by the use of plagiarism software tools, the work will be discounted and will not be used as part of centre assessment grading.
Not as yet! We appreciate that this is an important question for students, but until we have more guidance from Ofqual and the awarding bodies we aren’t able to answer this. The best advice we can give is to continue working at a steady pace, submit assignments one at a time and show that you have taken note of the feedback provided by your tutor/s in the assignments that follow. It is important to take your time when working on your assignments in order to produce a good quality of work.
No. You should continue to follow the existing assignment submission guidance provided.
Yes! Last summer, coursework was a really beneficial piece of evidence for students, so please continue to work to the deadlines given.
Unfortunately not. Although you are no longer physically sitting exams at a centre, the process of assessing eligibility for any alternative assessment and the processes around arranging alternative assessment eg centre assessment grades will require significant administration. In addition, an exam entry still has to be in place for you to receive a grade.
Until we have more information regarding how the assessment will work, we are unable to confirm either way.
No. If you think that the work you have submitted to NEC won't reflect your true ability then we would strongly advise you to defer your exams until the next available session. We will contact all students once we have more information from the awarding bodies and Ofqual to confirm which route they wish to take.
You will not be asked to pay any additional fees to defer your exams to the next available session.
Although we do state in our terms and conditions that exam fees cannot be refunded, under these unusual circumstances we would be happy to offer you a refund of your fees, minus a £50 administration fee to cover our costs. Should your exam entry fees include any practical endorsements or access arrangements, the amount we will be able to refund you will be decided on a case by case basis and may be dependent on further announcements from Ofqual and the awarding bodies.
You should not consider a predicted grade to be indicative of the centre assessment grade you may be awarded: centre assessment grades may be lower or higher than the predicted grade you have received previously ,as the eligibility criteria determined by the academic staff will be different than the criteria for awarding predicted grades.Your predicted grade will be aspirational and based only on a minimum of 50% assignments submitted. Your centre assessed grade will be based on more work and it could include a requirement to have completed specific assignments or reached a specific point in the course.
Latest update from our Exams team:
Date of statement publication: 07/01/21
Following the recent announcement by the UK government about the cancellation of the summer 2021 GCSE and A level exams, we understand that you will be anxious for further information about how the exams will be replaced. The awarding bodies are currently working with Ofqual and the Department for Education to understand the implications of the announcement and will release further details to schools, colleges and learning providers once these details are confirmed.
Please be assured that we are here to support you through these unprecedented times. Our committed and experienced staff and tutors delivered centre assessed grades for all our eligible students at very short notice when the exams were cancelled in March last year.
Our advice to NEC students who intended to sit exams in Summer 2021 is to:
- book your exam place as a matter of urgency. You can find the exam application form and information by clicking here. If you have booked an exam at a private centre, you will need to cancel this entry and enter through NEC. This is the only way we are able to provide a centre assessed grade.
- continue to work steadily through your course or courses. Please do not upload multiple assignments at once. You must continue to upload assignments one by one and wait for your tutor's feedback before submitting the next one. It is crucial that you demonstrate consistent progression by submitting assignments one by one and taking note of the feedback provided by your tutor/s. We have been advising students that if centre assessment grades are awarded in summer 2021 they would need to have completed at least 80% of their academic course assignments to be eligible for an award. The more assignments you have completed, the better position you will be in for a centre assessed grade and you should therefore aim to complete all of your assignments.
When completing your work it is important to remember that you should reference your work appropriately and ensure that you avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism may be accidental, for example if you forget to acknowledge the source of material you include in your assignment, or it may be deliberate. NEC will not accept any plagiarised work, and when this is identified, either by a tutor or by the use of plagiarism software tools, the work will be discounted and will not be used as part of centre assessment grading.
Students can find help and guidance on how to avoid plagiarism in the Student Support site on learn@nec.
You will find updates and detailed information on the Exams and Assessment page of learn@nec and also on our 2021 exams page on our website.
You can also view the Ofqual response to the announcement by clicking here.
As and when more information is released, we will let you know and also update these pages.
Previous updates from our Exams team will be listed below:
Date of statement publication: 05/01/2021
Following the recent announcement about the cancellation of the Summer 2021 GCSE and A level exams by the UK government, we understand that you will be anxious for further information about how the exams will be replaced. The awarding bodies are currently working with Ofqual and the Department for Education to understand the implications of the announcement and will let us know when they have decided how to replace the exams.
Our advice to students aiming for the summer 2021 exams, is to book your exam place as a matter of urgency (if you haven't already) to ensure you are eligible for any alternative assessment.
Please note that we are only able to provide centre assessment for students who have booked with NEC. Therefore if you have made your own booking with a private centre, we advise you to cancel that booking and to rebook with NEC. You should also continue to work steadily on your course/s.
Some of you may have queries about the January examination series for International GCSEs. These exams are still intended to be available as planned. However, due to school closures there may be issues around this and we will be in touch to confirm details.
Please be assured that we are here to support you through these unprecedented times and as soon as we have more information, we will let you know.
- Ofqual - A message from Simon Lebus, Chief Regulator, on exams 2021 (published 06/01/21) - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/a-message-from-simon-lebus-chief-regulator-on-exams-in-2021
- Ofqual - Simon Lebus responds to the Secretary of State's letter of 13 January 2021 (published 13/01/21) - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/simon-lebus-responds-to-the-secretary-of-states-letter-of-13-january-2021
What did we do when the 2020 exams were cancelled?
GCSE and A level results last year were extraordinary to say the least. With the coronavirus pandemic forcing the cancellation of the Summer 2020 exams, a new assessment model was put in place. This was based on centre assessment grades (CAGs) produced by teachers and moderated nationally through an Ofqual produced algorithm, which then had to be swiftly withdrawn in a major government U-turn to allow students to be awarded their original centre assessment grade. In our 57 year history as an education provider, we can safely say that we had never experienced anything like it before.
While the attention around the grade moderation fiasco centred on the disproportionate downgrading of state schools compared to independent schools, thousands of private candidates faced their own set of unique disadvantages. Many private candidates, including second-chance learners and home-educated children, were unable to be entered for a centre assessment grade (CAG) at all because they were not registered with an exam centre.
As NEC is a registered exam centre, our students, who had submitted enough work to be assessed, received a CAG based on assessment by their tutor. For those who were not eligible, we were in the position to defer their entry to the autumn sitting and have proceeded to aide those students with the booking process.
We found, as did many other schools and colleges, that the Ofqual moderation process for A levels had seriously disadvantaged some NEC students, with some dropping as many as three or four grades. Up until the government U-turn and switch to CAGs we had been engaging with the exam boards and working tirelessly to appeal grades on behalf of these students.
We worked extremely hard to work towards the best outcomes for our students, including submitting centre assessment grades, dealing with individual students' cases and keeping students and their parents as up-to-date as possible during unprecedented times.