2021 A Level Exams Announcement

Latest in 2020 A Level and GCSE Exam Situation: A non-political analysis

On 25th February 2021, Ofqual confirmed that the 2021 GCSE and A Level grades will be awarded by teachers. There are a number of notable points that have come from the announcement and below I will give my interpretation of what they mean. I should point out that any views or opinions expressed are purely my own.

1. Grades will be based on teacher assessment

It has been suspected for some time that this was going to be the case so there should be no surprises in this. What is surprising, however, is how little input the exam boards will have in determining final grades.

2. The “mini-assessments” that were previously announced will be optional but need not be taken in exam conditions, nor need they used at all in determining final grades.

Whilst this suggests that grade allocation could be a free-for-all, as a teacher myself I know that the most rigorous form of assessment is a closed exam paper sat in test conditions. Granted, to give a full set of past papers when so much learning has been lost due to schools having been closed for in-person learning, your teacher will know what topics you have and haven’t covered therefore your teachers will know how to assess you fairly. Therefore I think that most establishments will choose to assess in exam conditions, as they rightly should.

3. There will be no fixed split of grades and schools will not be expected to keep in line with last year’s results.

On first inspections this suggests a free-for-all A*s for everyone approach would be allowed, however, also appearing in the announcement is the suggestion that random grade checks will be performed on schools and colleges’ A Level results. Furthermore, if exam boards notice that a particular school/college’s results differ significantly from the previous year, checks can also be performed and grades potentially changed. My deduction from this is that, as teachers, it is in our interest to award the grades fairly, not inflating outcomes as to do so could put the grades of all of our students at risk. A fair, objective approach is key.

My Message for Students

You still have everything to play for. There are SO many reasons why you should not give up and that you should keep revising!

  1. There is still a LOT of time to change your teacher’s perception of how you are performing and this can be done by a mixture of hard work and dedication.
  2. Your uni offer is dependent upon you achieving the grades.
  3. The uni course you have applied for will have certain prerequisite knowledge assumed, usually including your A Levels.
  4. For your own mental health: you set out to achieve your A Levels and think of how proud you will be knowing that you have given it all of your effort and have had that effort pay off.

With regards to your A Level Maths. You can continue to revise and improve your grades using the following resources:

I hope this helps.

John