These are extraordinary times and, after the cancellation of the summer 2020 exam series, we're delighted to be able to share information on the autumn 2020 exam series for General Qualifications, International Qualifications and Vocational Qualifications.

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The Department for Education has announced that support will be available to schools and colleges offerng an autumn exam series this year. This includes a guide for schools and colleges on who should enter students for autumn exams. It also explains the support DfE is giving for exam fees, sites and invigilators. Please read the guidance for further information.

On 29 September the Department for Education published an update to their public health guidance to support autumn exams.  The update includes:

  • setting out the expectation that schools and colleges will run autumn series exams, including where the school or college is only open for smaller student groups
  • setting out the expectation that schools and colleges in areas of local restrictions will run exams
  • explaining that candidates who have taken the minimum necessary assessments for their subject in the autumn series can apply for special consideration and still be awarded a grade, even if they are not able to sit all of the exams
  • reminding schools and colleges of the need to continue to provide reasonable adjustments to support candidates with special educational needs and disabilities during the exam series.

Please read the guidance for full details.

We’ll be offering a full suite of exams for all our GCSE, AS and A level subjects* in autumn 2020.

Entries for these examinations can be made for GCSE, AS and A level students who had entries for the summer 2020 series, (whether those were with Pearson or another exam board), OR students and centres that can prove that there was an intention to sit an examination in summer 2020 but who were unable to, i.e. private candidates. 

The usual age requirement that any student needs to be 16 on or before 31 August to be eligible to take an assessment in English Language or Mathematics in November, does not apply to the November 2020 GCSE series for students who were entered for the relevant subject in the summer 2020 series. Therefore, the November 2020 GCSE series is available to:

  • students who were either entered for a subject, or where their centre has evidence that they intended to enter for the subject in the summer 2020 series, regardless of their age.
  • students aged 16 on or before 31 August 2020 entering for Mathematics or English Language, even if they had no summer 2020 entry.

*Any qualification subjects without any entries by the deadline date will be removed and late entries will not be accepted for any removed qualification subjects.

Important dates and entry deadlines

Qualification Examination window Entries open Entries deadline Late fees Results day
GCE 5 - 23
October
12
August
4
September
5 September 17 December
GCSE 2 - 23
November
19
August
18 September 19 September 11 February
GCSEs in English Language and Maths 2 - 23
November
19
August
4
October
5
October
14
January

See our lates exam timetables now published on our Timetables support page

Coursework and NEA (Non-Examined Assessment) 

The  Ofqual consultation on an additional GCSE, AS and A level exam series in autumn 2020 concluded that: 

  • exam boards must base results on students’ performance in exams alone and not on any non-exam assessment, with the exception of art and design qualifications. 

Therefore, there will not be any coursework or other NEA components (including the speaking assessment for GCSE and GCE languages qualifications) offered in the autumn series for GCSE, AS or A level subjects.  

The removal of coursework and NEA component for autumn 2020 means that the weighting of the exam components has been adjusted to make up 100% of the qualification. We will apply a scaling factor in accordance with the subject weighting to reflect the changes in relative weightings for each component.  

Where there is more than one exam component, the amended weightings can be seen in the document below. 

For qualifications where the removal of coursework/NEA leaves only one exam component, the exam will contribute 100% of the qualification outcome. The subjects with one exam component only can also be seen below. 

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Autumn 2020 series fees

As this is an exceptional year, we are freezing the autumn 2020 exam series fees, which means that the fees for all general qualifications in this series will remain the same as the fees published for 2019/2020. More information on these fees can be found in the following document.

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For international general qualifications (iPrimary, iLowerSecondary, International GCSE, and International AS/A Level), we've made a number of additions to the October/November 2020 series and some refinements to the January 2021 series for these international qualifications.

These arrangements are available to all students using international qualifications, including new entries, deferrals and students wanting to resit from any previous exam series, including the May and June 2020 series, and are subject to demand (see below for further details).

View the full list of subject availability and changes for each qualification in the autumn series ( PDF | 73 KB )

Coursework and NEA (Non-Examined Assessment)

In response to the ongoing need for social distancing, we can now confirm the following in relation to coursework and NEA:

International GCSEs in Chinese, French, German, Spanish

Following the same approach as the corresponding UK GCSEs, these qualifications will NOT include the speaking units in the autumn 2020 series.

The removal of coursework and NEA components for Autumn 2020 means that the weighting of the exam components has been adjusted to make up 100% of the qualification. We will apply a scaling factor in accordance with the subject weighting to reflect the changes in relative weightings for each component.  

Where there is more than one exam component, the amended weightings can be seen in the document below. 

For qualifications where the removal of coursework/NEA leaves only one exam component, the exam will contribute 100% of the qualification outcome. The subjects with one exam component only can also be seen below.

Autumn 2020 exam series weightings - more than one exam (PDF | 886 KB)

Autumn 2020 exam series weightings - one exam only (PDF | 594 KB)

International GCSEs in English Language A, English Literature, Art & Design

These will be delivered in full, including coursework, in autumn 2020.

Special consideration

Special consideration is a post examination mark adjustment processed when students are disadvantaged during their exams.  

If a student can only sit some of their scheduled exams, or have banked IAS/IAL units from previous series, it may be possible to award a qualification grade based on these results. To request this, the exam centre should apply for Special Consideration according to the processes outlined on our special requirements page.

The criteria for this award in the October/November 2020 or January 2021 series are: 

  • students are eligible for this type of special consideration if they have completed 25% of the total assessment (in the current or previous series) for the subject award. 
  • if an IAL candidate has only AS unit(s) banked and is missing all A2 units – the banked AS score(s) can be used to calculate the award. However, if the candidate has a banked score for another A2 unit, this will be used to determine the aegrotat for an A2 unit that has been missed 
  • the candidate must have unit entries for the current series for all remaining units of the specification (IAS/IAL only)
  • the candidate must have made a cash-in entry for the qualification to be awarded.

The outcome of all special consideration requests is dependent on the different circumstances of each candidate and each case is considered on its own merits. All special consideration requests must be received within 7 days of the last examination of the series.  

NOTE: Special considerations will not be applied in relation to lost teaching time during the school year. 

You can download our autumn series arrangements FAQs:

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October/November 2020 series fees

Where special consideration (as described above) is not an option, exam centres can request that the corresponding entry fee be credited to the centre to be applied against future entries. The details of these arrangements are outlined below: 

 

Individual candidates

Group of candidates

Evidence

Centres requesting credits for individual candidates’ entries should provide as much evidence as available to demonstrate why a candidate could not attend an exam. This could include a:   

  • medical certificate 
  • positive COVID test result (own or of a household member) 
  • statement from exam centre confirming, for example, ‘failed’ health check on the day of the exam; self-isolating requirement etc.  

Centres requesting credits for groups/cohorts’ entries should provide as much evidence as available to demonstrate why a candidate could not attend an exam. This could include a: 

  • official/government documentation confirming exams cannot be run 
  • statement from exam centre confirming details of why exams could not take place.

Entry management

Centres must withdraw entries from the current series and enter them for a future series

Fees

Entry fees will be credited to the centre’s account. Note that this credit will be for the standard entry fee only – late fees cannot be credited.

Process

1. Exam centre withdraws entries*

2. Exam centre requests credit for the withdrawn entries by emailing pqs.internationaleo@pearson.com with the subject WITHDRAWAL CREDIT REQUEST

The following information must be provided for each candidate**:

- entry code
- full name
- UCI
- Date entry was withdrawn

3. Pearson Customer Services will review each request and reply to the requesting exam centre within our standard SLAs.

4. Once confirmed, the credit will be applied to the exam centre’s account and can be applied against future entries. Please note that this credit will be for the standard entry fee only, late fees will not be credited.

*If withdrawals could not be made before the exam date, this should be clearly indicated in the email.

**Wherever possible, please include all candidates/exams in the same email

The latest exam timetables are now published on our support page.

Exam timetables

* It's important that you make your entries before the deadline date as any qualification subjects without any entries by the above deadline date will be removed and late entries will not be accepted for any removed qualification subjects.

As many centres around the world prepare to deliver exams in the coming months, we would like to support your efforts to ensure that students and staff are kept safe during this period.

Centres must always follow the regulations and guidelines issued by their local government to keep candidates safe before, during and after sitting examinations.

To assist you, here are some examples of how organisations are preparing for the return of students to schools and administering exams. You may find these a useful reference to adapt to your local situation and conditions.

Please note that these are provided as a reference only and local regulations must always take priority.

Some key measures that centres may wish to consider in preparation for exams are:

Health and safety risk assessment - Update your risk assessment relating to the conduct of examinations to be sure you have identified the risks presented and take steps to manage these risks effectively. For example – you may want to consider any risks associated with students waiting to enter the exam room, when they are in the exam room and when they leave and how you will help them to keep a safe distance from each other at all times.

Capacity - Consider in advance your centre’s capacity to accommodate exams using your existing sites and staff. Will you have sufficient space for all your students if you increase the distance between them etc. You may need to consider booking alternative sites or invigilators so you can provide more distance between students during exams.

Social distancing - Make adaptations to rooms to support distancing where possible.

Ventilation - Ensure all exam rooms are well ventilated before, during and after exams.

Hygiene - Ensure that cleaning / hygiene procedures are in place for in all areas occupied by staff and students during exams.

Communication

  • state clearly that candidates must not attend exams if they are experiencing possible COVID-19 symptoms
  • provide clear instructions regarding safety processes to staff and candidates before and on arrival e.g. hygiene procedures; how to enter and exit the exam room in a safe way; how to avoid gathering in large groups before or after the exam
  • contact Pearson if an exam is not able to proceed as planned because of local lockdown advice.

Contingencies - Anticipate and plan for the need to adapt e.g. what will you need to do if students appear unwell before or during an exam.

Training - Ensure invigilation staff are trained on all procedures and have a clear understanding of how to behave so they do not make students feel uncomfortable or put them at risk

Tracking - Ensure that you are formally tracking attendance to support COVID-19 track and trace measures in your country.

2020 has been a challenging year for students, parents, teachers and schools, with the closure of schools, cancellation of summer 2020 examinations and ongoing disruption caused by COVID-19. We understand how stressful this has been.

While many parts of the world are returning to school, we recognise that students around the world are facing different circumstances depending on the local government guidance in place, including some specific restrictions.

Our priority is to support students, whatever circumstance they face, to continue to move forward with learning, assessment and progression. As such, we are making available an autumn series for our international general qualifications, which will run in October and November 2020. This provides an opportunity to take examinations in 2020, with an exam-based grade. The autumn series for international qualifications are open to all students, and we know that they are particularly important for students who deferred or were not able to receive a grade in the summer series.

Frequently-asked questions

I’ve missed teaching time this year, and don’t feel ready to sit exams. What are my options?

We recognise that some students may not feel ready to enter for exams in October/November due to missed teaching time earlier in the year. If this is your situation, please discuss with your teacher and school who will be able to advise you. If this is not the right time for you, future series will be available in January and summer 2021. Find out which qualifications are available (PDF, 0.73 MB) in autumn 2020 and January 2021 series respectively.

I’m worried that I might not be able to sit exams in October/November. What are my options?

Some students may not be able to sit exams in October/November due to continued school closures through this period. If this is your situation, future series will be available in January and summer 2021.

Some students may experience disruption during the autumn series, due to school closures or local instances of COVID-19 outbreaks. If you experience this situation and have been able to sit some exams during the autumn series, your school may be able to apply for special considerations to receive grades. Please refer to the 'General qualifications for international schools and colleges' accordion, above.

Why are the autumn examinations running? Why aren’t Centre Assessment Grades being used for the autumn series, as in summer 2020?

We appreciate that some students may have queries whether the autumn series should apply the Centre Assessment Grade/calculated grade approach from the summer rather than the usual examination approach. The Centre Assessment Grade/calculated grade approach was put in place as a consistent global response to the circumstances of the summer. As education around the world starts to move towards to its usual rhythm, examinations are an important part of enabling learners to progress – and we have heard from your feedback this year how critical a return to examinations is. We have added the autumn series as an exceptional series in response to customer feedback requesting that students have the opportunity to receive a qualification grade based on the performance in an examination. If the autumn exam series is not right for you, please do refer to future series and the routes above.

Where can I find out more and get support on 2021?

Lots of information is available via our website and we will continue to share further details on arrangements for 2021 assessment on our website. If you would like to get in touch with us, please contact us.

Where can I find out more and get support on wellbeing?

Feeling a certain amount of concern or worry is natural when we encounter difficult or unsettling times. We would like to support wherever we can, from mindfulness practice to safeguarding, and are providing a range of resources suitable for teachers, parents and young people. If you are feeling anxious or upset, please remember to always talk to someone. If you are a student, talking to your family/parent/guardian or your close friends can help.

BTEC Levels 1-3 series-based external assessments

Many of the BTEC external assessments are available at multiple times of year. Learners will be able to sit/resit the external assessment in the next available window:

  • BTEC Level 1/2 Firsts - on-demand, Jan 2021, February 2021 or May/June 2021 (depending on sector/unit)
  • BTEC Level 1/2 Tech Awards - February 2021, or May/June 2021 (depending on sector/unit)
  • BTEC Level 2 and 3 Technicals - on-demand, March, or May/June 2021 (depending on sector/unit)
  • BTEC Level 3 Nationals - Jan 2021 or May/June 2021 (depending on sector/unit).

Find out the next available external assessment opportunity for your BTEC qualification by consulting our exams timetables page

In addition, we're offering external assessments linked to Licence to Practice units (including Units 1 and 2 in the BTEC Level 3 Nationals in Children’s Play, Learning and Development (CPLD) and Unit 2 in the BTEC Level 2 Technical Diploma in CPLD). We're not planning on offering additional assessment opportunities during autumn 2020 beyond this.

Series Qualification Sector Unit code Unit title
Autumn 2020
BTEC Nationals
CPLD
20780E Unit 1: Child Development
Autumn 2020 BTEC Nationals CPLD 31597H
Unit 1: Children's Development
Autumn 2020 BTEC Nationals CPLD 31598H
Unit 2: Development of Children's Communication, Literacy and Numeracy Skills
Autumn 2020 BTEC Technicals CPLD 21221K Unit 2: Child Development from Birth up to Five Years

Entry deadlines

Series Basedata issued Entry window opens Entries deadline
Late fees charged from High late fees charged from 
Autumn 2020
24
August
2020
24
August
2020
11 September 2020
12
September 2020
30
September 2020