General Qualifications Bulletin - International - Issue 37 | Pearson qualifications

General Qualifications Bulletin - International - Issue 37

18 January 2023

Dear Colleague

As we are over half-way through January, it seems a little late to be wishing you a Happy New Year, but I do hope you all had a restful break, and the new year has started well for you. We begin the year with the January assessment series for many of you around the world and I’d like to wish your students all the best. 

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We have a bumper edition of the bulletin this month, with some important updates in the Summer 2023 support section, including: 

  • links to the newly released International GCSE Physics and GCSE Sciences equations sheets and GCSE Maths and GCSE Sciences formulae and equations sheets;
  • guidance set out by Ofqual for collecting evidence of student performance during 2022/23;
  • contingency dates for UK qualifications for the May/June exam series;
  • and a reminder to teachers supporting students with the UCAS entries to use pre-pandemic grading standards as the basis for grade predictions.

Also included is a reminder about the entry deadlines, the deadline for ordering modified papers, our usual key dates table and information on making entries for private candidates.

As ever, we are always here to listen to your input and feedback, so please do get in touch with us as we’d love to hear from you.

With best wishes

Hayley White
Assessment Director

Full information about the support available for 2023 can be found on our Summer 2023 support page. This includes information and outcomes for all the autumn consultations undertaken by Ofqual.   

Take a look at our Summer 2023 support page

GCSE formulae and equation sheets now available — NEW 

The DfE confirmed in November that, in 2023, students are not required to memorise formulae for GCSE Maths and equations for GCSE Physics and Combined Science.

We’re pleased to announce that the 2023 formulae and equations sheets for GCSE Maths and GCSE Physics and Combined Science are now available to download. These are the same formulae and equations sheets that were used for the May/June 2022 series and, for Maths only, the November 2022 series, but the date has been changed to 2023.

You can download the new sheets at the links below:

For May/June 2023, we will also be providing equations sheets for International GCSE Physics. You can download these at the links below. For International GCSE Maths, the equations required will be included in the actual exam papers. 

Supporting resilience in the exam system in 2023 — NEW  

Whilst the UK government does not expect to ever be in a position where exams are cancelled nationally and alternative assessment arrangements are required, good public policy means having contingency, even for extremely unlikely scenarios.

Ofqual has therefore provided guidance for all schools and colleges on the steps they should take to collect and retain evidence in the academic year 2022 to 2023 in the unlikely event that exams cannot go ahead as planned.

This guidance covers GCSEs, AS and A levels, Project qualifications, and the Advanced Extension Award (AEA) in Mathematics.

Please read the guidance set out by Ofqual

Letters from Ofqual to Heads and students

Ofqual has also published open letters to heads and students about arrangements for GCSEs, AS and A levels and vocational qualifications in 2023. Please do take a look and pass this information onto your staff and students.

Stay up to date with all our support for 2023 on our Summer 2023 support page.

Contingency dates for May/June 2023 exam series — NEW

As usual, there will be a contingency day at the end of the GCSE, AS and A level exam timetables in the UK. Following the Covid-19 pandemic, further resilience was needed within the exam timetables and a single contingency day was not felt to be sufficient if a national event or incident had a significant effect on the exam timetable.

For June 2023, there will now be two additional half-day contingency sessions. These are on Thursday 8 June 2023 and Thursday 15 June 2023. The standard contingency day remains at the end of the timetable on Wednesday 28 June 2023.

Schools and colleges should ensure candidates and parents are aware of the contingency arrangements on these three days, and candidates should be encouraged to remain available until Wednesday 28 June 2023 should examinations need to be rescheduled.

Please read more information in the JCQ December newsletter

UCAS predicted grades and grade boundaries — NEW

We recognise the important role that teachers play in predicting grades for their students’ UCAS applications and appreciate how challenging this can be. However, please do take another look at Ofqual's announcement on 29 September, recommending that teachers use pre-pandemic grading standards as the basis of predicting students’ grades in 2023.

If you are using evidence from past papers from autumn 2020, 2021 and May/June 2022 to create UCAS predicted grades, please be aware that the published grade boundaries for these exams reflect the grading arrangements in place during the pandemic. As such, these boundaries may be lower than those using the pre-pandemic standards.

You can find more information in the JCQ December newsletter

Just a reminder that the entry deadline for international centres for GCSE, International GCSE, AS and A level, International AS and A Level, Edexcel Award, International Lower Secondary Curriculum and International Primary Curriculum qualifications is Tuesday 21 March.

The deadline for ordering modified papers for the May/June 2023 series is Tuesday 31 January. Please read the important information that was sent out on 5 January about ordering modified papers to ensure you have all the information you need. 

Further key dates are listed in the Key Dates section below. 

When making entries, please remember to enter students as private candidates if they are not receiving tuition at your centre. This includes resit students if they are not receiving tuition at the time the entry is made. A candidate cannot be both internal and private at the same centre for the same series.

Entering private candidates correctly will ensure that they can receive support directly from Pearson when appropriate, for example when accessing the review of marking or appeals processes. 

Many of you are delivering our international GCSE and IAL exams at the moment, and all of you will no doubt be starting to think about the May/June series. Question paper security remains essential to the smooth running of exams in your centre and for the wider cohort. 

Take a look at our bitesize on-demand training on question paper security.

This training module covers the importance of question paper security, how to securely handle question papers from receiving the papers right through to returning the completed scripts to Pearson, and how to recognise and report a question paper breach. 

Our Key Dates Finder enables you to find all of the key dates for Pearson general qualifications and subjects in one place. Here are those taking place in the next few weeks. 



Exam Series



International GCSE

Jan 23

Examination timetable ends


International AS and A level

Jan 23

Examination timetable ends


GCSE English Language and Mathematics

Nov 22

Final date for requesting copies of scripts to support reviews of marking


International GCSE, International AS and A level, Edexcel Award, International Lower Secondary Curriculum and International Primary Curriculum

Jan 23

Deadline to submit special consideration requests


GCSE English Language and Mathematics

Nov 22

Final date for requesting copies of scripts to support teaching and learning – Access to Scripts service


GCSE English Language and Mathematics

Nov 22

Final date for clerical checks, reviews of marking, reviews of moderation or other results enquiries (e.g. missing and incomplete results)


International AS and A level, International Lower Secondary Curriculum and International Primary Curriculum

Oct 22

Deadline to request Reviews of Marking and Moderation (RoMM)


International AS and A level, International Lower Secondary Curriculum and International Primary Curriculum

Oct 22

Deadline to request Access to Scripts

For more information on key dates for post results services please visit our Post-results services key dates web page.

Our May/June 2023 timetables have now been finalised.

The exam timetables for May/June 2023 seek to maintain some of the space built into the exam timetable in 2022 between the first and last exams in the same subject. This spacing was well received by schools and colleges in 2022 and reduces the chance of students missing all exams in a subject due to circumstances such as illness.

Please note, there are three contingency dates built into the timetables for UK qualifications: 8 June, 15 June and 28 June. Schools and colleges should ensure candidates and parents are aware of the contingency arrangements on these three days and candidates should be encouraged to remain available until Wednesday 28 June 2023 should examinations need to be rescheduled.

Take a look at our final timetables.

International A Level Physics

We wrote to you in October to tell you about some improvements we planned for our International A Level Physics assessments in January 2023.

Our IAL Physics Exemplars outlined these changes. 

For the May/June 2023 exam series, our improvement activities continued to focus on assessment accessibility for IAL Physics, and a review of our papers across the full International Advanced Level Science suite of qualifications.

As a result of these activities, additional improvements for IAL Physics in May/June 2023 are as follows:

  • We have targeted achieving greater consistency across the suite of IAL Science qualifications for our extended open-response and linkage questions. Where appropriate in our IAL Physics papers, additional scaffolding will be added to our extended open-response and linkage questions to help students access the questions and be clear about the Physics content being assessed.
  • We are continuing to monitor the clarity of language and the layout used in our context-based questions. All Physics question papers are now reviewed by a language specialist with science subject knowledge to ensure the language and contexts used are accessible and appropriate for your students.
  • In Section B, question contexts increase in demand appropriately so that, where possible, more extended contexts are reserved for later in the question paper.

To help us review our qualifications and improvements projects, we welcome feedback from our teachers and learners. After both our January and May/June 2023 exam series, we will be sending surveys to our International Science teachers and learners to enable you to feed back on our improvement work in IAL Physics.

This feedback will inform further assessment accessibility improvement projects in the future and help us to evaluate the accessibility improvements we have made.

GCSE French, German and Spanish Paper 4 amendments

Following the highly positive feedback we received about the 2022 May/June exam series, we would like to let you know that Ofqual have approved our request to retain the ‘optionality’ amendments made to the French, German and Spanish GCSE Paper 4, Writing.

In May/June 2023, and beyond, Paper 4 Writing will now include:

  • A choice of two options for Question 2 on the Foundation Tier.
  • An additional 5 minutes of assessment time on the Foundation Tier paper (originally 1 hour 10 minutes, now 1 hour 15 minutes for French, German and Spanish).
  • Topic titles appearing in English on both Foundation and Higher Tier Writing papers.

This amendment will ensure that our Modern Language assessments remain as accessible as possible for students entering exams in 2023 and beyond, and is in addition to the amendments we previously announced in 2020 for French, German and Spanish qualifications.

Changes to GCSE MFL papers from May/June 2023: Ofqual confirms vocabulary adaptations

Ofqual’s consultation on extending vocabulary adaptations, originally introduced for the May/June 2022 series as an accessibility measure, has now concluded. As a result, the requirement for awarding bodies to use vocabulary that is not on the specification vocabulary lists for GCSE Modern Foreign Language assessments has been removed from May/June 2023 onwards. In addition, this will allow exam boards to give the meaning of (gloss) unfamiliar vocabulary.

Find out how this applies to each language we offer.

GCSE History entry code calculator

Have you seen our GCSE History entry code calculator for May/June 2023?

Select your paper choices via the online form and the calculator will generate the correct entry code for your History (1HI0) candidates for the May/June 2023 exam series. Simple to use, just select an option from the relevant page of the calculator, click SUBMIT and you will see the entry code. A code will not be generated if an invalid combination of topics is chosen.

Take me to the GCSE History entry code generator.

Building on over a decade of delivering onscreen exams worldwide, we believe that onscreen assessment can enhance exam experiences for all and enable students to highlight their skills and strengths in ways they’ve told us suit them.

That’s why we’ve already been pioneering onscreen exams in UK schools where it can have the most impact – from onscreen mocks and real-life coding in GCSE (9–1) Computer Science to rolling out onscreen exams worldwide for International GCSE (9–1) English qualifications.

As every subject, student and school is different, we’re working with schools, employers and policymakers every step of the way on our onscreen journey.

Find out more and be part of the journey.

Following customer feedback, we’ve undertaken a range of system improvements for our Learner Work Transfer.

New server: we have moved to a new server for Learner Work Transfer that now enables us to handle increased capacity during peak periods. 

Better user experience: we will now confirm when an upload has been completed by the introduction of a new file status called ‘Uploaded’. Once all files are in an 'Uploaded' state, you can submit your request.

Improved scanning: we have removed the ‘Scanning’ status so that this takes place in the background automatically. This means that once a file is uploaded to us, you can leave this within the system and check back to see if it has been ‘Accepted’ or 'Rejected’.

Future improvements for summer 2023: we’re working on further improvements to Learner Work Transfer which will be in effect for the summer 2023 exam series. These include:

  • being able to remove a file in an ‘Uploaded’ state
  • enabling a Shared Files function so that your learners can be linked to a file once it has been uploaded, rather than waiting for a file to move to an ‘Accepted’ state.

For more support with Learner Work Transfer please visit our support page.

Ever thought about becoming an examiner (Associate)? 

Starting out as a general Associate with us can be the start of a great career in examining, with opportunities to move up to Team Leader and other senior examining roles. Some of the benefits include: 

Some of the benefits include:

  • paid to attend training events and meetings
  • discounts on Pearson resources
  • career progression
  • access to a wide variety of free CPD
  • flexible working

We are currently exploring how we can get more examiners from across the world. If you are interested, then please let us know via this simple form

Monthly Exams Officer Zoom sessions

Throughout the 2022/23 academic year, we’ll be hosting a series of online training sessions for Exams Officers. These live events go through news, updates and various other areas to support you in your role over the coming months.

All events are recorded, so if you’re unable to attend you can go back and watch previous events on our support portal.

Take a look at the upcoming session on Friday 10 February at 07:00 – 08:00 GMT and book your place.

We’re delighted to introduce you to our new Languages Subject Advisor, Rebecca Waker. Rebecca is here to support you in the teaching of all our language qualifications. 

You can contact Rebecca with your questions at, and also follow her on Twitter @PearsonMFLquals. If you’ve not done so already, please do sign up to receive Rebecca’s subject updates.   

Our Subject Advisors are here to support and help you as you teach our qualifications. They all send out regular newsletters with information, support and reminders about your subject area. Make sure you’re signed up to ensure you have all you need to deliver the qualifications to your students. You can also follow them on Twitter.

Sign up for your Subject Advisor support.

Stay informed with Vocational Qualifications by following @PearsonBTEC, where we will update you with the latest information, or access our FAQ page, which is updated frequently.

For responses to any suggestions or feedback you have for us, please visit our Contact Us page. You can also review our past bulletins if you’ve missed any, or sign up to receive future updates.

If you are a British Council attached school and you have any questions about content included in this newsletter or any other related matters, please contact your British Council representative.

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