Additional assessment materials: your questions answered

Students with raised hands to ask questions in class

Your final grades for your GCSEs or A-levels will be decided by your teachers this year, since exams have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the ways in which teachers might decide your grades is by setting short assessments using materials provided by the exam boards. 

You can find out more about what teachers may use as evidence for your grade in our article about what’s happening with GCSE and A-level exams.

With a unique system in place for this year, there are understandably a lot of questions.

We’ve collected the most commonly asked questions about the additional assessment materials and answered them here.

Where can I find the additional assessment materials?

The exam boards have made the additional assessment materials available online. We’ve provided links to each exam board below.

  • AQA (All Levels) - Scroll down to 'Get Assessment and Support Materials', select your level and the subject you are looking for and select 'see materials'
  • OCR (All Levels) - Select your level and subject and download the zip file provided
  • Pearson Edexcel (All levels) - Select your level and then subject underneath the header "Summer 2021 assessment materials for students". Then simply open up the tab called 'Summer 2021 assessment materials for students'
  • Eduqas (All levels) - Select your subject, then click the tab resources and finally the Summer 21 Assessment Materials tab that will appear below

If you have any trouble accessing them, or any further questions then head over to our additional assessment materials thread where students have been discussing these.

Will teachers definitely use these if they set an assessment?

The teacher-assessed grading system is designed to be flexible, which means nothing is set in stone.

Short assessments are one of several options that teachers can use to decide your grade this year. They are completely optional for your teachers. 

The additional assessment materials have been provided to help teachers but it is up to them to decide whether they will use them or not. Your teacher may choose not to set you short assessments at all, or set you short assessments that aren’t based on these questions.

It’s a good idea to use these materials to help with your revision as they could be used, but that isn’t guaranteed. “We recommend using them in the same way that you’d use past papers to revise,” says Joe Woodcock, TSR’s community engagement manager.

For some tips on how these materials can support your revision, check out this article from our sister site The Uni Guide on how to use past papers to revise effectively.

Will these assessments determine my final grades?

Short assessments are one way that your grade may be decided by your teacher. 

It’s possible that the assessments alone won’t determine your final grade, but will be used alongside other work and assessments you’ve done on the course.

Your teacher should let you know what evidence they are using to decide your grade, especially if there are assessments you need to prepare for.

Have teachers been given the same assessment materials as us?

Yes, the questions available in these assessment materials are the same ones that have been provided for teachers to use. However, as teachers have no obligation to use these you may still encounter a question that isn’t in these materials, so don’t limit your revision to these questions alone.

Are the mark schemes available?

While the assessment materials are available for students, the mark schemes are not. The mark schemes have been provided to teachers only.

Are there unofficial mark schemes?

When it comes to unofficial mark schemes, they might be out there but that doesn’t mean that you can trust them. TSR’s community engagement manager Joe Woodcock advises to “please proceed with caution.”

“Students have been discussing the questions and how they would answer them on TSR, but this isn’t something you should simply take at face value and memorise,” he says.

“Trying to memorise someone else’s answers to questions that may or may not come up isn’t a sensible way to prepare for your assessments. Not only is it much easier to learn how to answer a question than memorise the answer and the order that they appear, but who knows if the answers you have seen are even correct to begin with?

“If you want study support and want to chat to other students about these questions, make sure you’re getting help on how to answer the question, not just what the answer is.” 

I’ve heard that 2020 exam papers are being sold online. Are they worth it?

There have been reports of leaked papers from last year’s cancelled exams being sold online.

Much like the unofficial mark schemes, there’s no way to be sure that the exam papers being sold online are official or accurate. Don’t waste your money. Not only is it against the rules, it could also be a scam. 

The exam boards have made this year’s assessment materials available online for free and these are a much better resource for your revision.

If I plan my answers to these additional assessment materials am I cheating? 

“These materials have not been leaked and are available to everyone, you’re not cheating!” says Joe. 

“Everyone is allowed access and I would actively encourage every student to at least have a look at these questions.

“If you do, try to use them in the same way you may use a past paper as a revision tool. Try to answer the questions by learning the technique behind them, that way you will be comfortable if the exact question turns up in one of your assessments but you will also be comfortable if a different question on the same topic comes up instead.” 

Are international qualifications included? 

Assessment materials for international GCSE and A-levels have not been released. 

These qualifications will still use a system of teacher-assessed grades like in the UK but the assessment materials will be ‘unseen’ and treated more like a regular exam paper that students won’t see until their assessment begins.

The use of these materials is still optional for teachers.

Teachers have a choice to either use the unseen assessment materials like an exam paper, under controlled conditions during an assessment period specified by the exam board, or to use the assessment materials more flexibly after this period to contribute to their students’ grades as part of a range of evidence.