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Summer Examination Proposals for A Level and GCSE

The information below outlines the latest developments regarding the Summer A Level and GCSE examinations 2022 as well as providing some further information regarding the upcoming mock examinations and formal assessments for Year 11 and Year 13 students.

The first Year 13 assessment window runs from Monday 8 November to Friday 12 November 2021. There are mock exams the week commencing the 7 February 2022 and then A Level exams will take place in May and June.   

GCSE mock examinations Part 1 take place from 15 November until 25 November with GCSE mock examinations part 2 starting 21 March. Final GCSE exams take place in May and June.  

The mock exams are an essential part of preparing for examinations in summer 2022.  They give an accurate current grade and will identify key areas of development for each student. It is also possible that this year the grades may be used as part of an evidence basket for Teacher Assessed Grades (if they are required), please read on to find out more about this.

Summary of 2022 exams announcements

At the end of September, the DfE and Ofqual published a number of documents setting out plans for GCSEs, AS Levels, A Levels, and vocational and technical qualifications next year. These include the following:

  • A ‘decisions document’ setting out what changes will be put in place for GCSEs, AS and A Levels in 2022, following the recent DfE/Ofqual consultation on this.
  • An article by new Chief Regulator Dr Jo Saxton, explaining Ofqual’s approach to grading next year, and a blog setting this out for students.

Guidance on the contingency arrangements for vocational and technical qualifications.

Key points from these documents are below:

Adaptations to summer exams

  • There will be optional topics and content in GCSE English literature, history, ancient history and geography.
  • If necessary, centres will be allowed to deliver practical work in GCSE biology, chemistry, physics, combined science by demonstration.
  • Centres will be allowed to assess the Common Practical Assessment Criteria (CPAC) across the minimum number of practical activities required to enable students to demonstrate their competence in A Level biology, chemistry, physics and geology.
  • Students taking GCSE and A Level art and design will be assessed on their portfolio only.
  • Exam boards will provide advanced information about the focus of the content of exams for all GCSE and A Level subjects except GCSE English literature, history, ancient history and geography by 7 February 2022 at the latest. This could be released earlier ‘if circumstances require’.
  • Students will be given a formulae sheet for GCSE mathematics and a revised equation sheet for GCSE physics and combined science.


  • 2022 will be a ‘transition year’ to reflect the fact that we are in a pandemic recovery period and students’ education has been disrupted.
  • Ofqual will therefore aim for grades in 2022 to reflect a midway point between 2021 and 2019. This means that results overall next year will be higher than in 2019 but not as high as in 2020.
  • Exam boards will use data as a starting point, to align their standards in a subject. But the grade boundaries for each specification will be set by the senior examiners after they have reviewed the work produced by students.
  • Grades for students sitting exams in autumn 2021 will be aligned with grading in summer 2021.
  • When predicting grades for UCAS this year, Ofqual recommends that teachers use the 2019 standard as the basis, but that they give borderline students the benefit of any doubt.
  • In 2023, Ofqual aims to return to results that are in line with those in pre-pandemic years.

Results days

Results for exams next year will return to their normal format, with AS and A Levels being released on 18 August, and GCSEs on 25 August. Vocational and Technical Qualifications (VTQs) will be issued on the same days, and other VTQ results will continue to be issued throughout the year.

Contingency plans

  • The government launched a two-week consultation on what contingency arrangements should be put in place if GCSE, AS and A Level exams cannot go ahead as planned in 2022.
  • The government’s proposal is very similar to last year's TAG process, with tighter guidance on the evidence on which TAGs would be based. Specific suggestions include:
    • planned assessment points from which to gather evidence (e.g. once in each of the late autumn, spring and early summer terms)
    • the use, at these assessment points, of approaches which replicate exam board papers and exam conditions

It is likely that the government will produce guidance on this process, once the consultation is complete and the final approach is agreed.

The government is determined that GCSE and A Level examinations go ahead this summer, but are preparing a contingency plan in the form of Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs). Although the contingency is only at the consultation stage, it is likely that schools will be required to put plans in place for such a possibility. You will see from the consultation, that there is an emphasis on robustness of evidence. As such, all formal assessments, including those taken in November, may be taken into account. Obviously, mock exams taken later in the year are likely to hold more weight than ones taken at an earlier stage of the course, but all students need to be aware that their formal assessments may help inform their final grades. Therefore, it is very important that every student uses the time in the lead up to the November assessments to revise thoroughly, so they are able to achieve grades that are a true reflection of where they are currently in each subject.

If you have any queries, please contact Miss Chant Head of Sixth Form or me in the first instance.

Mrs G White
Assistant Head