DfE and Ofqual decisions on 2023 exams | Pearson qualifications

DfE and Ofqual decisions on 2023 exams

30 September 2022

On 29 September 2022, the Department for Education and Ofqual published their decisions on assessment arrangements and grading for 2023, including consultations on proposed changes for MFL GCSEs.

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A return to normal in 2023

The DfE and Ofqual have confirmed that exams will return to normal in 2023. The government has decided that students will not be provided with advance information on the focus of exams next summer. However, there are a number of consultation regarding adaptations for some subjects, including for modern foreign language (MFL) GCSEs.

Read the government press release on 2023 exam arrangements

Consultations on MFL GCSEs

The DfE and Ofqual are both consulting separately on plans to remove the expectation that students engage with unfamiliar and abstract material, such as unfamiliar vocabulary, within MFL GCSE assessments from 2023 onwards.

In summer 2022, this change was introduced temporarily as one of the amendments put in place for MFL GCSEs to support students following the pandemic. The expectation was that assessments would return to their normal, pre-pandemic form in summer 2023. However, the DfE and Ofqual are now seeking your views on making this change permanent for GCSE qualifications in all languages from 2023.

If approved, this change would mean that awarding bodies would no longer be required to include words that are not on the vocabulary lists in the GCSE languages specifications. It would also permit exam boards to gloss (give the meaning of) unfamiliar vocabulary, if considered necessary.

The DfE’s consultation covers the curriculum while Ofqual’s consultation covers exam content and how it is assessed. Both consultations will close on 20 October and you are now invited to complete their online surveys.

Please note that these consultations relate specifically to GCSE languages and do not apply to International GCSE language qualifications.

Find out more about the DfE’s proposal and complete their survey

Find out more about Ofqual’s consultation and complete their survey

Grading in summer 2023

Ofqual has also published an article setting out the approach for grading for 2023. Their aim is that students sitting exams in 2023 return to results in line with pre-pandemic years.

Grading for exams in summer 2023 will get ‘back to normal’, with some protection built in for students against any impact of Covid disruption in terms of how grade boundaries will be set. This will apply to all awarding bodies.

Overall, results in summer 2023 are expected to be much closer to pre-pandemic years than results since 2020.

Read Ofqual's article on 2023 grading

Qualification system resilience

The DfE and Ofqual are also jointly consulting on guidance to schools and colleges about gathering assessment evidence to support resilience in the general qualifications system.

Find out more and respond by 20 October 2022


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