The exams regulator Ofqual, exam boards and your teachers will work together to decide your grades
The schools have been shut down and all of this summer’s exams have been cancelled, but if you were due to take BTEC, GCSE or A-level exams this year you’ll still be getting grades for all your subjects.
The Department for Education (DfE) has released an outline of how this is going to work, but it hasn’t provided much in the way of exact details just yet – we’ll update when that information becomes available.
Here are a few questions that you might have about exam cancellations, and what we know so far.
Why did the exams get cancelled?
As part of the government’s plan to slow down the spread of coronavirus, all schools across the UK were shut down from Friday 20 March, and all of this summer’s exams have been cancelled. This includes all GCSEs, A-levels, BTECs and other vocational technical qualifications.
How will my grades be decided?
The plan is for the exam regulator, Ofqual, to work with the exam boards and your teachers to decide your grades.
Your teacher will be asked what grade they believe you would have got if the exams had gone ahead. They’ll be told exactly what they need to take into account to come up with this grade – it will include things like how well you’ve done in your mocks and other assessments.
The exam boards will then take this information and combine it with other data to produce a calculated grade for each student.
If this all sounds a bit vague, it’s because the exact guidelines haven’t been released yet. More detail will be coming soon, and we’ll update this article when that happens.
Will my results just be the same as my predicted grades?
Not necessarily. The DfE has said “we know that simply using predicted grades would not be fair to all students.”
As above, the calculated grade will take into account what the teacher thinks alongside other factors, so “students’ final grades will not necessarily reflect their predicted grades,” says the DfE.
Will my grades be based on how well I did in my mocks?
Mock exams will be one of the factors considered, but not the only one. The DfE says that “Ofqual will ensure schools are provided with clear guidance on how to do this fairly and robustly.”
What should I do if I’ve started my coursework but not finished it yet?
This is something that’s still being discussed, but the DfE has said that exam boards will be giving schools guidance on this as soon as possible.
When will I get my grades?
The DfE has said that it’s aiming to get everyone’s grades out to them by the end of July.
What if I don’t think the grade that I am given is fair?
You’ll be allowed to appeal, but only if you don’t think that the Ofqual grading process has been followed properly. If you’re still not happy, you’ll be allowed to sit exams once the schools and colleges open again.
Will I be allowed to take my exams later?
Yes, if you want to. You’ll have the chance to take your exams “as soon as is reasonably possible after schools and colleges open again,” the DfE has said. You’ll also be allowed to sit your exams in summer 2021, if you want to.
If I want to take A-level exams later, does that mean I’ll have to wait a year before I can go to university?
Hopefully not. The DfE has said that it expects universities to be flexible about start dates for students who want to sit their A-level exams later this year, although it notes that this “cannot be guaranteed in every circumstance”.
How will the cancelled exams affect my university application?
They shouldn’t affect it too much. You can read more about it here, but in a nutshell, you’ll still be able to accept offers, universities will continue to make offers and you’ll be able to confirm offers as usual.
The main change is that Ucas has pushed back your deadline for replying to offers by a couple of weeks, and you’ll be getting an email to confirm your new deadline.
What happens if I’m already home-schooled?
There hasn’t been much guidance released around how grades will be calculated for private candidates or home-schooled students yet – but you haven’t been forgotten.
For now, the DfE has just said “we will continue to work closely with Ofqual to explore options for awarding grades to private candidates, including home educated students”.
How worried should I be about coronavirus?
The likelihood is that most young and healthy people who catch coronavirus will be fine, but it’s still important to try to stop it spreading to protect those who are more vulnerable. England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, has said that “even for the highest risk group, the great majority of people will survive this.”
Public Health England says that coronavirus, which shares many of the same symptoms as the flu, will generally be worse for older people, or people with weak immune systems or long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.
Thing you can do to stop the germs spreading include:
- Always carrying tissues with you and using them to catch your cough or sneeze, then binning the tissue and washing your hands
- Washing your hands more often than usual, and always for 20 seconds with soap and water or hand sanitizer
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
If you’re worried you might have coronavirus, you should use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service.
Other useful links
Department for Education has launched a helpline to answer education-related questions about coronavirus for students, staff and parents to use.
Phone: 0800 046 8687
Email: [email protected]
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)