October/November 2021 exam series
Following the cancellation of the summer exam series we are now able to share information on the October/November 2021 exam series for our general qualifications and international qualifications.
On 4 May Ofqual confirmed that students who receive a teacher assessed grade this summer will be eligible to take GCSE, AS or A level exams in the same subject in autumn 2021.
Ofqual has also confirmed that:
- awarding organisations will have to offer exams in all GCSE and A level subjects and AS exams in Biology, Chemistry, Further Mathematics, Mathematics and Physics; exam boards will be able to offer AS exams in other subjects if they wish
- exams will be in their normal format, with no new adaptations made. The content adaptions which were put in place for the cancelled summer 2021 exam series will be carried forward for the autumn series
- exams will be in their normal format, with no adaptations made
- grades will be determined by a student’s performance in an exam for all subjects, except for art and design qualifications.
AS and A level exams will be held in October, while GCSE exams will take place in November and December.
On 14 May 2021, Ofqual confirmed that the adjustments that were due to be applied in summer 2021 will also apply to the autumn 2021 exam series for GCSE.
We're pleased to confirm that we will be offering an additional International GCSE series in November 2021. This is an additional arrangement for 2021 only. We’ll be running a focused January 2022 series.
We currently offer an October series for International AS/A level (IAL) and this will go ahead as planned in October 2021. In addition, selected units will be made available to provide an opportunity for students to achieve what they need for progression. We also offer a January International A Level series and this will go ahead as planned in January 2022.
Across these two series, at least one exam opportunity for each modular IAL unit will be available before the May/June 2022 series.
We currently offer an October Series for iPrimary and iLowerSecondary and this will go ahead as planned in October 2021.
Ofqual announced the outcomes of its consultation on the format of GCSE, AS and A level assessments for autumn 2021. On 14 May 2021, Ofqual confirmed that the adjustments which were applied in summer 2021 will also apply to the autumn 2021 exam series for GCSE.
For international qualifications, including International GCSE and International AS/A Level, any adjustments that were due to be applied in May/June 2021, will also be applied in autumn 2021.
For guidance on running exams safely, what to do if students are unable to sit exams, and special considerations, please visit our International page.
For GCSE, AS and A level examinations
Entry for the autumn 2021 exam series for GCSE, AS and A level examinations is restricted to students who have received a teacher-assessed grade in summer 2021 and to students who are able to demonstrate that they would have entered summer 2021 exams had they not been cancelled. Centres should only submit entries for students where they are confident that they meet the eligibility criteria and can provide suitable evidence to the awarding organisation on request.
Private candidates in particular may find it difficult to evidence the fact that they would have entered in the summer 2021 series had exams not been cancelled. Awarding organisation will give the benefit of doubt to private candidates in this situation provided that the student has made a declaration to the entering centre to confirm that they would have entered in summer 2021 if exams had taken place. Centres should retain these declarations and make them available to the awarding organisation or the JCQ inspection service if requested.
For examinations in GCSE English Language and GCSE Mathematics, which are always available in the autumn, the normal eligibility criteria will apply. That is, candidates must have reached the age of 16 before 1 September 2021 for them to be eligible for the autumn series. For this autumn 2021 series, candidates with a summer 2021 entry will also be eligible to sit GCSE English Language and GCSE Mathematics, whether they have met the minimum age requirement or not, but please note that this applies to the autumn 2021 series only.
For International GCSE, International AS and International A level examinations
There will be no restrictions on entries for International GCSE, International AS and International A level examinations.
Please see the table below for the list of entry dates for the October/November 2021 series.
|Qual||Exam session||Entries open||Entries deadline||Late fees charged||High late/ refund/ amendment deadline||High late/ amendment fees charged|
|iPrimary, iLower-Secondary||Oct 2021||23/07/2021||29/08/2021||30/08/2021||22/09/2021||23/09/2021|
|AS/A level||Nov 2021||09/08/2021
|GCSE, International GCSE||Nov 2021||11/08/2021||04/10/2021||05/10/2021||31/10/2021||01/11/2021|
The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) have also published their key dates document for the exceptional Autumn series.
Centres should note that we, along with other awarding bodies, will only be offering AS Biology, Chemistry, Further Mathematics, Mathematics and Physics this autumn.
The timetable for the standard GCSE November series, GCSE English Language and Mathematics, was confirmed in December 2020 and will not be changing.
On the 16 June, Ofqual published the outcome of the 2022 NEA and field work consultation. This set out their proposals to carry forward the arrangements which were put in place in 2021 to take account of public health restrictions that could have had an impact on the way the assessments in these qualifications could be conducted.
The consultation concluded that all proposals set out in the consultation document would be implemented.
We know that the opportunity to sit examinations remains important for many of your students and we remain committed to supporting students' progress.
We have decided to freeze the autumn October/November 2021 exam fees for all our general qualifications (GCSE, International GCSE and AS/A level). This means that the fees for this series will remain the same as the fees published for summer 2021.
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.
- 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.