General Qualifications Bulletin - UK - Issue 40

14 December 2022

Dear Colleague, 

Welcome to our December Qualifications Bulletin. What an incredibly busy year it has been! We saw the return to a full exam season this summer, and on behalf of everyone here at Pearson, I would like to congratulate and thank you all for the incredible amount of work and dedication on your part to ensure your learners were fully prepared after the challenging few years we’ve all experienced..

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Before the year closes, there is time to provide you with some information and updates so you’re ready for the new term in January. 

In this edition of the bulletin, we have links to the outcomes of the Ofqual and DfE autumn consultations, summer 2023 timetables, information on entries for private candidates, key findings from our assessment associates survey and future opportunities, plus details of the post-results services available for the November resit series.

For those of you who will be sitting exams with us in the January 2023 window, I wish you and your students all the best.

I wish you all a restful break with family and friends during the festive season. 

With best wishes,

Hayley White
Assessment Director

Ofqual and DfE arrangements for summer 2023

In September 2022 Ofqual and the DfE confirmed that, in England, GCSE, AS and A level exams and grading will largely return to pre-pandemic arrangements in summer 2023. On 30 November they published the outcomes of a number of consultations for summer 2023. 

GCSE formulae and equation sheets

DfE has confirmed that, in 2023, students are not required to memorise formulae for GCSE Mathematics and equations for GCSE Physics and Combined Science. To support this, we will be publishing formulae and equation sheets for summer 2023. We'll let schools and colleges know when these are available.

Gathering evidence of student assessment performance

Ofqual and DfE have published the outcome of their joint consultation on guidance to schools and colleges about gathering assessment evidence to support resilience in the general qualifications system in 2023 for GCSE, AS, A level, Project and AEA.

  • It has been agreed that in the unlikely event that exams do not go ahead in 2023, a TAG approach would be implemented nationally.
  • TAGs would not be used to award a grade when exams take place.
  • Proposals set out in the consultation about the provision of guidance for teachers on how they should collect evidence of student performance will be implemented.

Assessment of modern foreign language GCSEs from 2023

DfE and Ofqual have confirmed that changes made to assessments in 2022 on the use of vocabulary will be carried forward to future assessments from 2023 and beyond. These changes allow exam boards greater flexibility by: 

  • removing the specific requirement that existed in previous years for the assessments to use vocabulary that is not on the vocabulary lists;
  • permitting exam boards to give the meaning of (gloss) unfamiliar vocabulary, if they consider this necessary.

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.

Our May/June 2023 timetables have now been finalised.

The exam timetables for summer 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.

Take a look at our final timetables.

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. 

GCSE French, German and Spanish Paper 4 amendments

Following the highly positive feedback we received about the 2022 summer 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 summer 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 summer 2023: Ofqual confirms vocabulary adaptations

Ofqual’s consultation on extending vocabulary adaptations, originally introduced for the summer 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 summer 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.

AS and A level Politics specification changes

The AS and A level Politics specifications and sample assessment materials have been updated with some minor amendments. You can download the updated versions of the specification and read guidance on the changes on our Politics subject page.

New A level Politics mock papers now available

We recently met with a group of Politics teachers to discuss issues relating to our A level Politics assessment arising from the Summer 2022 exam series. Following feedback received this summer, we undertook a review of our recent question papers, comparing them to the original sample assessment materials accredited by Ofqual. As a result of this review and the helpful feedback we received, we have decided to put in place the following measures:

  • questions in future live series will more accurately reflect the level of demand of questions in the accredited sample assessment materials.
  • we will use more current teachers in our question paper production process.

We’ve now created a new set of mock papers for Edexcel A level Politics which can be downloaded from the qualification page. We hope teachers will find these papers useful in helping to prepare students for this summer's examinations.

Download the new mock papers.

GCSE History entry code calculator

Have you seen our GCSE History entry code calculator for summer 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 summer 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

International GCSEs English Language A (4EA1) and English Literature (4ET1) - Issue 5 anthology

We have published an issue 5 anthology. This corrected a single typing error. There is no need to order new anthologies.

January 2023 exam series

A reminder that centres are required to submit a sample of video recordings of the optional spoken language endorsement (for those students entered) by 10 January 2023 on the learner work transfer portal (LWT). 

Marks, grades, coursework samples and spoken language endorsement samples must be uploaded to Edexcel Online and the Learner Work Transfer portal by 10 January 2023.

4ET1: paper 1 returns to its usual format including anthology poetry. Students do not require a clean copy of the anthology in the exam.

To get a complete update on these qualifications, including guidance on the changes to 4EA1 for first assessment in June 2024, please access the slides and recordings from the recent network events for English Language A and English Literature

Every year, we work with over 20,000 Assessment Associates to mark, moderate, write and check all the qualifications that we offer across general and vocational qualifications. Being an Assessment Associate with us brings a level of insight into how qualifications work. 

In our latest survey, over 80% of you said it was the best CPD you get, and over 90% of new Associates said it was quick and easy to apply and the training and support you received was good or better. 

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:

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

Have a look at the list of vacancies we have available at present. If you can't see your qualification but are interested, then please do get in touch with us.

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. 

Date Qualification Exam Series Description
09/01/2023 International GCSE Jan 23 Examination timetable begins
10/01/2023 Project qualifications Jan 23 Deadline to submit centre marks and moderation samples
11/01/2023 GCSE English Language and Mathematics Nov 22 Release of results to centres
12/01/2023 GCSE English Language and Mathematics Nov 22 Release of results to candidates
20/01/2023 International GCSE Jan 23 Examination timetable ends
26/01/2023 GCSE English Language and Mathematics Nov 22 Final date for requesting copies of scripts to support reviews of marking
31/01/2023 Project and International GCSE Jan 23 Deadline to submit special consideration requests

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

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 Thursday 19 January at 14:00 – 15:00 GMT and book your place.

Results day for the November GCSE Maths and GCSE English Language series will be Thursday 12 January, and our regular post-results support services will be available from this date.

ResultsPlus

You can get a detailed breakdown of your students’ results through ResultsPlus, our online results analysis service.

Take a look at our ResultsPlus video that provides you with an overview of how ResultsPlus can help you learn more about how your students’ performance compares with class and Pearson Edexcel national averages. 

Access to Scripts

You can view your candidates’ marked scripts online or download as a PDF, using our Access to Scripts service.

Find out more and take a look at our user guide and FAQs.

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

We hope you can enjoy a well-earned festive break at the end of this term. Our Customer Service team will be available as usual for the rest of this week and most of next week; our phone lines will close at 12:30pm on Friday 23 December

We will be back to our usual 8am–5pm opening hours from 3 January 2023.

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.

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