The DfE and Ofqual ran a consultation on proposed changes to GCSEs, AS and A levels in 2022, and published the decisions on 30 September 2021. 

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Read the full consultation outcome.

Proposed changes to the assessment of GCSEs, AS and A levels in 2022

Take a look at our FAQs that you may find helpful below. 

General

The Department for Education consulted on four different types of adaptations for assessments in 2022: Advance Information, optionality, exam support, and NEA/fieldwork adaptions. 

In addition to these four main categories of adaptations, there are also adaptations to the assessment of practical science work.

The details of the summer 2022 adaptions are summarised on the qualification pages for each subject.  

Learn more - summer 2022 support

Adaptions for International GCSE qualifications will be made in line with the adaptations to their equivalent GCSE subjects, where relevant. Please visit the relevant subject pages for details. 

Adaptations do not apply to International AS and A level qualifications due to the modular nature of these qualifications. The exception here is International A level Law, a linear qualification, for which adaptations will be made.

Learn more - summer 2022 support

Advance Information

In the summer 2022 consultation the Department for Education stated that students will be supported in their preparations for the summer 2022 assessments through providing Advance Information on the focus of the content of exams. 

Students’ education has been disrupted this year by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. To make exams in 2022 less daunting for GCSE, AS and A level students, for many subjects they will be told in advance some of the content that will or won’t be on the papers, helping them to manage their exam preparation.

Advance Information will not be identical between different awarding organisations because qualification content and/or assessment is not identical. However, awarding organisations have worked together in the creation of Advance Information to ensure that it is comparable for each subject/qualification, and has the same level of impact on students in terms of their exam preparation.

The consultation outcome states that Advance Information should be released by 7 February 2022. However, the DfE have also confirmed that should the impact of the pandemic worsen, Advance Information could be issued earlier in the academic year to help teachers focus their remaining teaching time. 

The DfE will be monitoring the ongoing impact of the pandemic and we will update you on the timing of the Advance Information release once the Department for Education has confirmed.

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Advance Information is being provided for most GCSE, AS and A level qualifications. Advance Information will also be provided for Core Maths and the Edexcel Awards. 

Where there are optionality adaptations, Advance Information is not being provided (GCSE English Literature, GCSE History and GCSE Geography.) Where there is no examination in a qualification, Advance Information is not being provided (GCSE and A level Art and Design).

The Advance Information released by 7 February 2022 will apply to the Summer 2022 exam series only.

Advance Information will be provided for the November 2022 resit series for GCSE English Language and Maths, but this will be different Advance Information to the summer series, and will be released in July 2022, unless further disruption justifies an earlier release.

No. Advance Information is to inform exam preparation and is not to be taken into the exam. 

Yes, learners can have access to the Advance Information to support their exam preparation. 

Advance Information will be provided for International GCSE qualifications, with the exception of English Literature, History and Geography, in line with the approach taken for UK GCSE qualifications. Advance Information does not apply to International Advanced Levels which have a modular assessment structure. Advance Information will be provided for IAL Law, which is a linear qualification. 

The presentation of Advance Information will vary between subjects to reflect the different characteristics of the qualifications.  The information which is provided will detail the focus of particular aspects of the examination for example, the content, contexts, texts, topics, sub-topics, themes and/or skills that will be assessed in the 2022 exams.

The information may be at qualification level, paper level or section level, depending on the nature and design of the qualification and assessment. 

Advance Information will be available to download via the Pearson Edexcel website.

Optionality

Optionality provides a choice of topics in GCSE English Literature and GCSE History and choice of content in GCSE Geography. Therefore, optionality reduces the volume of subject content that is required to be taught or assessed for summer 2022.

Due to the disruption to teaching caused by the pandemic, and lost learning time, optionality gives some choice of topics beyond a common core, to support teachers in delivering the required subject content in the time available. 

GCSE English Literature, GCSE History, and GCSE Geography. 

Yes, for GCSE English Literature and History the optionality is the same as proposed in 2021. Geography did not have optionality proposed in 2021, and so the arrangements for 2022 are a new adaptation which has been added in response to feedback on the 2021 arrangements. 

There will be no Advance Information for the subjects which are having optionality in 2022.

However, GCSE Geography will be having fieldwork adaptions which were outlined in the NEA and Fieldwork consultation. The specific details of these adaptations can be found on the GCSE Geography 2022 support page

The same optionality arrangements which were proposed for GCSE English Literature and History 2021 have been carried forward into 2022 to minimise the impact of further change. For GCSE Geography this is a new adaptation.  

As with any arrangement which is applied at a midway point in a two- or three-year course, there will be the risk that some of the optional content has been covered, and some of the compulsory content has not. Where content has been covered, time can still be saved in not revisiting or revising this content from this point forward. 

Exam support

In some GCSE subjects, students normally have to memorise key formulae and recall it when they need to use it to answer a question in the exam. Exam support is the provision of additional material which learners can access during the exam, instead of memorising this information. 

The aims of exam support are to provide additional support to learners who are usually required to memorise formulas or equations for use in their examinations

GCSE Maths, GCSE Physics and GCSE Combined Science.

For GCSE Physics and GCSE Combined Science, the exam support will be a separate equation sheet which gives students all the equations they will have covered in the GCSE course.

For GCSE Maths, the exam support will be a separate formula sheet which gives students the formulas which they may need to refer to in their assessment, appropriate to their tier of entry.

Exam support materials are provided on the subject pages for GCSE Maths, GCSE Physics and GCSE Combined Science.

GCSE Maths summer 2022 support

GCSE Physic summer 2022 support

GCSE Combined Science summer 2022 support

No. Exam support will be provided in hardcopy as an insert for each learner in the examination. This support material will be identical to the material accessible in advance on our website subject pages. Exam support materials which have been accessed in advance should not be taken into the examination. 

For the November 2022 resit examination series, the same formulae sheets will be provided for GCSE Maths as for the 2022 summer series.

NEA and fieldwork

NEA and fieldwork adaptations are amendments to qualifications requirements which take account of public health restrictions that could have had an impact on the way the assessments in certain qualifications could be conducted.

Learn more - Arrangements for non-exam assessment for qualifications in 2022

The aims of the adaptations are to accommodate public health restrictions which could limit the delivery of NEA and fieldwork activities. 

NEA adaptations have been made for GCSE and A levels in Design and Technology, Drama (and Theatre), Music, and Physical Education, GCSE English Language (spoken language endorsement) and AS/A level Music Technology.

Fieldwork adaptations have been made for GCSE and AS/A level Geography.

Adaptations to the assessments in GCSE Languages qualifications were also included in the NEA and fieldwork consultation.

The details of the adaptations for each subject can be found by visiting the relevant 2022 support pages.

Learn more - summer 2022 support

Practical science work

For GCSE Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Combined Science, and AS Biology, Chemistry and Physics teachers will be able to deliver the practical requirement by demonstration. Students will be able to observe a demonstration by the teacher or observe the practical work being undertaken remotely, for example by watching a demonstration online or on video.

For A level Biology, Chemistry and Physics, teachers can assess the Common Practical Assessment Criteria (CPAC) across the minimum number of practical activities required for students to demonstrate their competence instead of students being required to complete at least 12 practical activities as determined by the DfE subject content.