Autumn 2023 support

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On this page we’ll provide updates and information from Ofqual, the Department for Education (DfE), the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) and Pearson, relating to the exams and assessments for our GCSE, AS and A level qualifications.

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From announcements and news to support materials and updates, we’ll make sure you have all the information and tools you need to teach our qualifications, help your students with their assessments and post-results support, to enable them to progress.

Summer 2024

Welcome to the summer term. We're ready to support you and your students through this important term and we'll keep updating this page to ensure you've got all the latest information you need, including Subject Advisor support, professional development courses and how to get in touch with us.

The new Ofqual Chief Regulator, Sir Ian Bauckham CBE, has written a letter schools and colleges where he talks about preparing for the summer exams, grading arrangements, resources to support schools, colleges and students, plus results days and next steps.

Read the Letter for schools and colleges April 2024

Read the Ofqual guide for schools and colleges 2024

The Ofqual Student Guide 2024 provides students with information about this year’s arrangements for GCSE, AS and A level qualifications, and explains what support is in place when taking exams and assessments.

Read the Ofqual Student Guide 2024

Ofqual have shared their student checklist providing information on what they need to know before their exams, plus what they can and cannot take into the exam hall.

Downoad the checklist for your students

Ofqual have also produced a guide for students on coping with exam pressure.

Download the guide: Coping with exam pressure – a guide for students

The Joint Council for Qualifications has a range of information and support for students – from coursework and onscreen exams to written exams, along with a checklist for exam day. 

Take a look at all the support JCQ have to offer for students

Everyone’s exam experience is different, and we understand that preparing for and sitting exams can be overwhelming for many.   

Our exam wellbeing support is here to help you and your students navigate this time – from the run-up to exams, exams day and beyond.

Visit the exam stress and wellbeing hub

Your students may also like to view our #examspelledout videos that explain all about the assessment process from the writing of the exam papers and modified papers to what happens to exam papers once they’ve left the school, grade boundaries and results.

View all the videos

Did you know that the most common form of candidate malpractice every exam series is the possession of a mobile phone?

According to data published by Ofqual, possession of a mobile phone accounted for 44.5% of all cases of student malpractice - 2,180 cases - in the summer 2023 series. This was an increase on the 1,825 cases seen in the summer 2022 series.

The JCQ awarding bodies have set out the agreed sanctions for the different types of candidate malpractice, including for possession of a mobile phone. These can be found in Appendix 6 of the JCQ Suspected Malpractice Policies and Procedures. You can see that the sanctions for possession of a mobile phone are severe, because we need to maintain the security and integrity of our exams:

  • mobile phone in the candidate’s possession but no evidence of being used by the candidate – loss of marks 
  • mobile phone in the candidate’s possession and evidence of being used by the candidate – disqualification.

We really want to see a reduction in this form of malpractice, which has such a significant impact on so many candidates. Please ensure that you’ve taken the following steps to help your learners avoid committing malpractice:

  • clear communication to learners and their parents about items prohibited in exams, including mobile phones 
  • clear publication and display of the JCQ exam room posters
  • sharing the JCQ Preparing to sit your exams infographic with learners and their parents
  • having a member of your centre’s Senior Leadership Team (SLT) deliver a pre-exam series assembly, to clearly explain the expectations of learners and the exam rules
  • ensuring you have in place, and learners know about, a process for the safe collection and storage of their mobile phones during exams.

On 2 February the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) published their updated JCQ guidance on AI Use in Assessments.

The guidance is designed to help students and teachers to complete NEAs, coursework and other internal assessments successfully, giving students the chance to demonstrate skills which cannot be assessed in exams.

Please do share the latest version of the guidance with senior leaders, teachers and assessors in your school or college. It’s vital the guidance informs school policies on AI use, and schools and colleges provide staff and students with clear information.

A summary of the key updates is available on the JCQ website. They've also produced a poster for students on the use of AI and assessments and an information sheet for teachers along with PowerPoint presentations for teachers and students. 

Read all the information on JCQ blog and download the updated guidance and support materials

On Tuesday 19 December Ofqual confirmed the outcome of its consultation, and students taking GCSE maths, physics, and combined science exams in 2024 will be provided with formulae and revised equation sheets. 

The formulae and equation sheets will be available with the exam booklets in the summer, but you can download them now so your students can become familiar with them ahead of their exams.

GCSE Maths Foundation Tier formulae sheet

GCSE Maths Higher Tier formulae sheet

GCSE Physics and Combined Science equation sheet

The Ofqual decision relates to GCSE mathematics, physics and combined science exams being taken in 2024 only. For GCSE mathematics this will apply to exams taken in November 2024. DfE has confirmed that 2024 will be the final year for these changes to its subject content requirements. There will be a return to normal exam arrangements for these subjects in 2025. This means that formulae and revised equation sheets will not be available after 2024. Students preparing for GCSE mathematics, physics and combined science exams in 2025 and beyond will be expected to know and recall all the usual formulae and equations set out in DfE’s subject content.

Read the full details of the Ofqual consultation outcome

We can confirm that we will be taking the same approach for our International GCSE Physics and International GCSE Science Double and Science Single Awards (physics papers) where students will have access to a revised equation sheet for Summer 2024 exams. We’ll confirm when the 2024 equation sheet is available, for now you can use the equation sheet from 2023.

International GCSE Sciences equation sheet

JCQ have produced new guidance for centres on cyber security in order to safeguard sensitive information, including personal student data, and to protect the integrity of secure assessments.  

In today's digital landscape, it is crucial to adhere to industry best practices to mitigate the risk of cyber threats. Please read the information provided by JCQ that includes key guidelines that align with industry standards and will help protect your digital assets.  

Ofqual Guidance on collecting evidence of student performance to ensure resilience in the qualifications system for GCSE, AS and A levels, Project Qualifications and AEA. This guidance also applies to our Edexcel Level 3 Mathematics in Context (Core Maths) and Edexcel Awards in Mathematics. 

Summary for Pearson Centres 

On 21 September 2023, Ofqual published the resilience guidance for centres delivering: GCSE, AS and A levels, Project Qualifications and Advanced Extension Award in maths (AEA). This guidance also applies to our Edexcel Level 3 Mathematics in Context (Core Maths) and Edexcel Awards in Mathematics. We will provide specific guidance on resilience arrangements for other qualifications, including Technical Qualifications in T Levels, where necessary.  

The guidance lays down the arrangements that schools and colleges are asked to make to provide resilience in the exam system, in the unlikely event that the government determines that exams are not able to go ahead in future.   

Centres should read the guidance in full to ensure they understand the details of the arrangements.  

The guidance asks that schools and colleges:  

  • ensure students sit mock exams in exam conditions and that these are retained, either digitally or physically
  • aim to complete assessments in the first half of the academic year where possible
  • plan assessment opportunities to gather evidence of student performance in line with their usual assessment approaches
  • provide assessment content, similar to that which students would expect in their summer exams, and across the assessment objectives for the qualification
  • plan for total assessment time that does not normally exceed the total time students would spend taking exams/non-exam assessment for the relevant qualification
  • provide assessments that are similar to full or parts of the exam papers students are preparing to take next summer, based on exam board materials as far as possible
  • continue to allow private candidates to register with them in the usual way
  • apply the same reasonable adjustments for disabled students as would be made for summer assessments, retaining records of the adjustments and the reasons for them
  • record any special consideration issues (such as illness or family bereavement) so that these can be taken into account when determining a grade, if necessary
  • make it clear to students that it is expected that exams and formal assessments will go ahead as planned
  • make it clear to students that any assessment evidence collected and retained will be used to determine grades only in the unlikely situation that exams and formal assessment could not go ahead
  • make it clear to students, before they take any assessment, whether their performance in the assessment would be used as part of evidence to determine a grade for them if exams cannot go ahead as planned
  • ensure that students are assessed under exam-like conditions wherever possible i.e. supervised, working independently, under timed conditions etc. 

The guidance asks that teachers: 

  • mark the assessments in line with published exam board mark schemes and guidance where appropriate
  • not use grade boundaries from autumn 2020 and 2021 and summer 2022 when they are providing an indicative grade for students
  • provide students with feedback, which could include marks or comments
  • make it clear to students that any grade used to indicate the level at which the student has performed is not an indication of what their final grade would be if it became necessary to award a qualification using the evidence
  • make it clear that it is not possible to determine a final qualification grade unless Ofqual sets specific guidance on this, which Ofqual will do only if exams do not go ahead
  • support their students to complete non-exam assessment (NEA), in line with the timescales set by exam boards
  • record the reason for any late identification of reasonable adjustments and where possible allow the student to take a different, but equivalent, assessment with the reasonable adjustment in place.  

Teachers may tell the student the grade at which their performance in the assessment indicates they have performed.  

On 15 September 2023 the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) updated its ‘Instructions for the Conduct of Qualifications’ document for the 2023/24 academic year to provide more clarity to candidates, exam officers and teachers given recent changes in technology. 

In particular, the use of calculators in exams has been updated in Section 10 ‘Using calculators’. The use of calculators applies to a number of different subjects so please do pass this information to all who need to read it.

Full details can be found in the in the JCQ booklet 'Instructions for conducting examinations 2023-2024'. There is also a set of FAQs about using calculators.

Please visit the the JCQ website

Visit our Professional Development Academy where you'll find plenty of courses across subjects, throughout the year, to support teachers and educators in their continuous professional development.

Take me to the Professional Development Academy 

Exams Officers, we've got you covered. Take a look at our guidance for essential exam administration processes for spring and summer 2024. 

Our support article covers all you need to know to run a smooth exam series. Bookmark this article so you have it to hand when you need it.

EO Support: spring and summer essential information

Year round support

We'll be updating this page regularly and provide news and information in our monthly Pearson qualifications bulletin. For subject-specific support, please do stay in touch with your Subject Advisors or you can also contact us directly if you have any other queries.

Exams officer support

Read the latest Pearson qualifications bulletin

Contact your Subject Advisor

Contact our customer service team