General Qualifications Bulletin - UK - Issue 44 | Pearson qualifications

General Qualifications Bulletin - UK - Issue 44

27 April 2023

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome back to the summer term. Incredible as it may seem, we are now only a few weeks away from the first exams of the 2023 summer series.

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As we begin to send question papers out to centres around the world, I’d like to thank you for the incredible work you’ve done over this year to prepare your students and get them ready to sit their exams.

As always, we’re here to support you through the next few months, and in this issue of the bulletin we’ve got some important information and reminders to help you and your students in this busy period. These include:

  • JCQ guidance on the use of AI in assessments;
  • guidance from Ofqual for students for summer 2023;
  • information on the Learner Work Transfer system;
  • exam tips for students;
  • support for exams officers with information on question paper despatch and security;
  • information on timetable variations;
  • summer 2024 provisional timetables;
  • subject updates and more.

We wish you and your students a successful exam series. Please get in touch if you have any questions, and we will always do our best to get you the answers you need as quickly as possible.   

With best wishes,

Hayley White
Assessment Director

Protecting the integrity of qualifications

On 28 March, JCQ released a document which provides teachers and assessors with the information they need to manage use of artificial intelligence (AI) in assessments. This guidance applies to all our general qualifications including GCSEs, International GCSEs, AS and A levels, International A levels, Entry Level, Project and vocational qualifications. 

Important points to note:

  • Centres should explain the importance of students submitting their own independent work.
  • Centres should ensure that teachers and assessors are familiar with AI tools and their risks.
  • Centres should consider communications with parents/carers to make them aware of AI.
  • Students must acknowledge use of AI when used.
  • Misuse of AI tools is malpractice.

Within the document, there is a list of potential indicators of AI use that may help identify work where students have misused AI. Please pass this information on to all your colleagues.

Download the document from the JCQ website.

The contingency dates for the GCSE, AS and A level summer exam timetables in the UK are as follows:

There will be two half days on Thursday 8 June 2023 and Thursday 15 June 2023, and one full day on Wednesday 28 June 2023

Please read more information in the JCQ December newsletter

Centre contingency planning: JCQ guidance

In case of disruption to the exam system, all centres must have contingency plans in place. There are three main categories of disruption:

  • Candidates at risk of being unable to take examinations; centres remain open. 
  • Centres at risk of being unable to open as normal during the examination period.
  • Disruption to transporting completed examination scripts.

Please take a look at the information and guidance provided by the JCQ.

You should review your own centre contingency plans well ahead of the summer exam series to make sure they remain up to date and appropriate.

You should ensure that your contingency plans cover a range of scenarios, including the absence of key members of staff at exam time, disruption to power supplies or local transport networks, and extreme weather, including extreme heat.

We know that most centres will be well advanced with their invigilator recruitment at this stage. If your recruitment is not yet complete, you might want to consider using the NAEO exams recruitment and vacancy map for any remaining vacancies. You should also ensure that you have contingency plans in place in the event that you experience a shortfall of invigilation staff on a particular day. If your contingency plans include the use of centre staff, you should consider putting a training plan in place ahead of the exam series to ensure that all relevant staff are familiar with the requirements for invigilators.  

You can find full information about the support available for 2023 on our Summer 2023 support page. This includes information and outcomes for all the autumn consultations undertaken by Ofqual.   

Download GCSE formulae and equation sheets

The Learner Work Transfer (LWT) system will continue to be used for a host of GCSE, International GCSE, Project, A-Level, and International A-levels that involve a speaking component, performance, portfolio or other non-examined assessment (NEA).  

You can find a wide range of information and guidance on the Learner Work Transfer (LWT) system on our support portal.

The LWT system is currently open and available for some subjects. Please refer to the Key Dates Finder on our website for sample submission deadlines. 

Ofqual has produced a guide for students that provides information about the arrangements for GCSEs, AS and A levels and vocational qualifications in England this summer. It also explains what support is in place when taking exams and assessments.

You can read the full information on their website, but they’ve also produced a condensed version of the information in a handy PDF: Arrangements for exams and assessments in 2023

Exam tips for students

As the revision season is now fully under way and students begin to turn their focus towards the summer exam series, we’ve put together a Getting ready for exams guide that includes some top tips and advice including:

  • preparing for exams;
  • what happens on exam day;
  • where to find further support;
  • what happens once exams are over.

Take a look at the guide and please pass it on to your students.

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

Summer 2023 stationery and materials list

The stationery and materials spreadsheet for the summer 2023 exam series is now available on our website. The stationery and materials list provides information on the stationery and equipment required for our general qualification examinations in the next series. The list is provided as a spreadsheet which you can download and filter to your requirements. 

You can also read further guidance on exam stationery and materials on our support portal.

Download the stationery and materials spreadsheet.

JCQ hints and tips for exams officers: entries

JCQ have recently published a guide with hints and tips to help exams officers when making entries for GCSE, AS and A level qualifications across all exam boards. 

Download Hints and tips for exams officers – Entries (PDF)

Late fees and amendment fees

High late fees and amendment fees will apply to all entries and option changes submitted after 21 April. The withdrawal deadline was also 21 April, and refunds will no longer be provided for any withdrawn entries.

You can find more information in the Key Dates section below.

Looking ahead to the summer series, here’s an update on when you will start receiving exam materials.

You should now have received materials to conduct your speaking exams.

You can expect to start receiving standard and modified question papers from the following dates:

  • Edexcel Award exams: from 20 April
  • General qualification exams taking place in May and up until 6 June: from 27 April
  • General qualification exams taking place from 7 June onwards: from 19 May

If you have entries for A level Maths (9MA0), your question papers will not be included in the despatches mentioned above. Further details about A level Maths delivery plans for your centre will be communicated the week commencing 22 May.

You will be able to track your standard question paper despatch for general qualifications via Edexcel Online.

An interactive training session on question paper security is available on our on-demand e-Learning page.

The yellow label service will be in place for this summer series for centres in England to return scripts. Please read the yellow label service guidance for exams officers on the government website.   

Attendance registers

You can expect to start receiving attendance registers and labels from 20 April. 

Secure Download Service (SDS)

Digital copies of question papers will be available to download from SDS this summer, with no need for you to submit a request and wait for them to be sent to you. Provided you have made entries, you can download question papers 90 minutes prior to the exam start time and 24 hours prior for audio files (or on the Friday if the examination is scheduled for a Monday).

If you don’t already have SDS added to your EOL profile, please contact us so we can resolve this for you.

To qualify to access SDS materials, you must have a centre-domain email address. We cannot grant access to users who use public-domain email addresses, such as Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo. To meet the security requirements, you will need to be available to receive a secure call-back from a Customer Services Specialist on your centre's main telephone number. Once this call has been performed successfully, we will add access to the SDS platform  to your account.

For further details on SDS, please read our dedicated support article.

We will produce additional sets of recordings with 25% extra time for GCSE and International GCSE listening exams, which will also be available to download from SDS.

As a contingency, we will send standard-length audio files via SFT to all centres with entries for MFL subjects. 

Secure File Transfer (SFT)

We will always send SFT files to the Exams Officer listed on Edexcel Online with the "Exam Paper Despatch Contact" box ticked. If no one at your centre has this profile ticked, we will default to the Exams Officer who most recently logged in to Edexcel Online.

We strongly recommend you check that one of your exams staff has the "Exam Paper Despatch Contact" box ticked to ensure SFT files are always sent to the most appropriate person.

As we head towards the summer exam series, we’d like to remind you that question paper security remains essential to the smooth running of exams in your centre and for the wider cohort. 

You can find bitesize on-demand training on question paper security on our website. 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. 

Looking ahead to the delivery of the GCSE (9– 1) Computer Science: Application of Computational Thinking (1CP2/02), we wanted to share with you the recording of our live support session held on 29 March 2023.

This session covered:

  • Support and guidance for delivering the assessment
        - updated ICE, checklists
  • Key preparation activities
        - creation of Secure User Areas, folder set-up, IT support and contingency  measures
  • What to expect on exam day
        - release of exam materials, Learner Work Transfer (LWT)

To get the most out of this recording, please take the time to read through the Instructions for Conducting Examinations (ICE) document and the role-specific checklists, all of which you can download from our website under the Centre guidance banner.

We’re delighted to share our new Insights Report on Onscreen Assessment with you, which you can also read about in the Times Education Supplement, 24 March.

Building on the experiences of thousands of students already taking live onscreen GCSE and International GCSE exams with us, the views of 7,000 teachers and an experts’ roundtable, we’ve found that:  

  • we have and will continue to successfully deliver high-stakes onscreen exams;
  • it's a more modern, flexible, and inclusive examination model that teachers and students want;
  • there are opportunities to better digitally equip schools and students to help make onscreen exams an option and reality for all. 

The appetite for onscreen assessment from students and teachers is clear:

Year 11 student:

“I would probably choose to take exams all on screen, as it did save a lot of time for me, and I found it very much to my advantage.”

Nigel Davis, Head of Secondary at The British School Al Khubairat (BSAK) commented:

“We believe that this is the future of exams, and the confidence that our students had as they left the exam hall this summer was palpable. Now that we have seen the results, we cannot be happier.”

Read more in the Insights Report on Onscreen Assessment.

If you like what you see, take a look at the onscreen exams already available in the UK and internationally. 

We're introducing a regular International GCSE November series, first running in November 2023. The November series is being introduced to best meet the needs of students requiring International GCSE exam opportunities outside of the full May/June series, and it will replace the existing January series from 2024. This will result in just May/June and November series going forward for International GCSE.

Why are we moving to a November exam series?

Due to the pandemic, circumstances meant that we needed to follow a November International GCSE exam series in 2020, 2021 and 2022. As the November series seemed to be well received, we consulted schools to understand whether there was a preference for a permanent November exam series or reverting to January. 

November was the preferred option for most schools; not just for resits, but also for learners studying on a January–December academic year.

You can read more information about this on our website.

Sampling of coursework/non-examination assessments (NEAs)

For all relevant subjects, the candidates selected for sampling of coursework/non-examination assessments are now available for teachers to see on Edexcel Online. Take a look at our support article that explains how to view which candidates have been selected for sampling on Edexcel Online.  

Future improvements to GCSE Geography A and B

As part of our ongoing review of our qualifications, we've looked at the level of demand and accessibility of our GCSE Geography specifications and assessments and in response to this, we’re exploring making improvements. Read the details here. 

New GCSE and A level Psychology videos

Take a look at our Psychology YouTube channel, where we're steadily adding new videos to support teachers and students of GCSE and A level Psychology.

Subject Advisor updates

Use the following links to read this month's updates from our Subject Advisors:

With the summer series soon to begin, make sure you're signed up for your Subject Advisor updates.

All exams are scheduled to be sat at 9:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The permitted exceptions to this are detailed in sections 7 and 8 of the JCQ Instructions for Conducting Examinations.

Where a timetable variation is used, candidates must be kept under examination conditions until the end of the scheduled exam time. Exams for AS Maths, AS Further Maths, A level Maths, A level Further Maths and A level Statistics must not be moved to an earlier session. You can find more information in the JCQ guidance. 

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
21/04/2023 GCSE, International GCSE, AS & A level, AEA, Entry Level Certificate, Level 3 Core Maths, Entry Level Certificate and Project qualification Jun 23 Last day that withdrawn entries will be refunded
22/04/2023 GCSE, International GCSE, AS & A level, AEA, Entry Level Certificate, Level 3 Core Maths, Entry Level Certificate and Project qualification Jun 23 Amendment fees will be charged from this date
22/04/2023 GCSE, International GCSE, AS & A level, AEA, Entry Level Certificate, Level 3 Core Maths, Entry Level Certificate and Project qualification Jun 23 High late entry fees will be charged from this date
05/05/2023 GCSE Physical Education 1PE0/03 (Full Course) and A level Physical Education 9PE0/03 Jun 23 End of moderation window; final date for centre visit or video evidence to be submitted digitally for remote moderation
15/05/2023 GCSE, International GCSE, AS & A level, Entry Level Certificate and Project qualification Jun 23 Deadline to submit centre marks and moderation samples
The exceptions to this deadline are GCSE and A level Art and Design; these marks do not need to be submitted until 48 hours before your moderator visit.
15/05/2023 GCSE Geography A 1GA0 and Geography B 1GB0, AS & A level Geography 8GE0/9GE0 Jun 23 Deadline to submit Fieldwork Statement form
15/05/2023 GCSE Physical Education 1PE0/04 and A level Physical Education 9PE0/04 Jun 23 Deadline to submit PA & PDP centre marks and samples
15/05/2023 GCSE Art and Design 1AD0/01 (and all linked endorsements) and A level Art and Design 9AD0/01 (and all linked endorsements) Jun 23 Submission of centre marks, assessment documentation and candidate work for digital moderation (ONLY overseas centres and where visiting moderation cannot take place)
19/05/2023 A level Chinese, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish,
GCSE Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and Urdu,
International GCSE English as a Second Language
Jun 23 End of window for speaking tests
22/05/2023 International GCSE IT 4IT1/02 Jun 23 Data file release available on our website
23/05/2023 GCSE Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and Urdu Jun 23 Final submission deadline for recordings

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

The summer 2024 provisional timetables are now available on our website. Should you have any feedback, please get in touch with us at by Friday 5 May. We'll let you know once these provisional timetables have been finalised. 

Monthly Exams Officer Update live sessions

With news, updates, information and support, join our live monthly events for Exams Officers to ensure you’re all ready for the 2023 exam series.  

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

The next event will be on Thursday 11 May, 14:00–15:00; register here if you'd like to attend.

Spotlight on assessment, services and support: 2023 and beyond

We’re delighted to invite you to our pre-results review event to be held at our head office in the Strand, London, on Thursday, 29 June, 11:00–15:00.

We’ll cover the early insights from the recently completed summer series and share how we anticipate results will be received. Our experts in standards and research will share their insight and we will look at our plans for future developments in assessment.

The event will be chaired by Hayley White and our assessment experts from across Pearson. You will have the opportunity to network with colleagues and with our assessment team, and we hope you can join us.

Book your place today.

Attention all experienced professionals in the field of psychology! We are currently searching for qualified examiners to join our team.

As an examiner, you will have the opportunity to use your expertise to evaluate and assess students in your field of specialization. You’ll play a crucial role in ensuring that our exams provide a fair and accurate measure of students' knowledge and skills.

If you have a degree in psychology or a related field, along with a strong understanding of the subject matter and relevant industry experience, we would love to hear from you.

As an examiner, you will have the flexibility to work remotely and on a schedule that works for you. You’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing that your expertise is helping to shape the next generation of professionals in your field.

If you’re interested in joining our team as an examiner for GCSE or A level Psychology please take a look at the information below and get in touch.

Visit our new Vocational Teaching, Learning and Assessment page to find out about the enhanced support we’re offering for BTEC in 2023. Stay informed with vocational qualifications by following @PearsonBTEC, where we will update you with the latest information.

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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