What you need to know about the autumn series of A-level and GCSE exams

students sitting exam

If you're unhappy with your calculated grades, you might choose to sit the optional autumn exam series. Here's how they will work

If you were due to sit GCSE, AS-level or A-level exams this summer, you will be getting calculated grades instead.

These are already out for A-level and AS-level students. GCSE students will get theirs on Thursday 20 August.

If you’re not happy with your calculated grades, there is an appeals process available - although this is limited to only specific circumstances.

An alternative is to sit the exams you should have taken in the summer in the autumn instead.

student writing an exam

When will I get my calculated grades?


Help with your A-level results

Many students have questions about the A-level results they have received. If you're looking for help with your results, these other articles on The Student Room should also be useful.

If you are still looking for a university place, you might want to use our Clearing information service. If you sign up for this, you'll receive emails from universities who still have places in your chosen subjects. You can sign up for Clearing emails here 


Can I just appeal my calculated grade instead of having to take an exam?

You'd usually be able to get the marking of your exam reviewed if you thought your grade was incorrect.

Since students have been given calculated grades instead of taking exams this summer, things are a little different this year. 

You will only be able to appeal your results if you think an administrative error was made with your grade – for example, your name was mixed up with someone else’s and the wrong grade was entered into the system.

If you think this might have happened, you’ll need to ask your school or college to open an appeal on your behalf. The deadline for submitting an appeal is 17 September, and your grade will be protected so it definitely won’t go down.

Alternatively, if you think you were affected by bias or discrimination, the first thing to do is speak to your school or college and raise a complaint through them. If that does not solve the issue, you could consider going to the exam board.

“It is important to remember that this would not be an appeal, but rather an allegation that malpractice or maladministration occurred in relation to your centre assessment grade(s) or rank order position(s). Such allegations would be serious, and taken seriously,” Ofqual has said in its guidance on appeals and malpractice

If you think you might have grounds for an appeal, you can find out more about what you need to do here

Who can take the autumn exams?

Only students who were due to sit exams during summer 2020 are eligible to sit these additional autumn exams.

Will there be exams happening for all subjects in the autumn?

GCSE, AS-level and A-level exams will be offered for all subjects that should have run in the summer.

If nobody puts themselves forward to sit an exam before its entry deadline, however, the exam board will be able to withdraw it from the autumn timetable.

students in exam hall

What dates will the autumn exams happen on?

A-level and AS exams will start on Monday 5 October and finish on Friday 23 October, the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) has confirmed.

GCSE exams will start on Monday 2 November and finish on Monday 23 November.

For specific dates for every subject, you can find links to all of the exam boards' timetables for the GCSE, AS-level and A-level autumn exams here.

When do I need to decide by?

If you want to sit the autumn exams, you must be registered by the deadline.

You should check with your school as they will probably have their own deadlines, but the deadline for entry to AS and A-level exams is 4 September. 

The deadline for entry to GCSE exams is 18 September, except for English and maths, which has an entry deadline of 4 October. 

When will I get my results if I take an autumn exam?

A-level autumn exam results will be released to students on Thursday 17 December 2020. 

GCSE autumn exam results will be released to students on Thursday 11 February 2021.

The results for the series of GCSE English and maths exams that already take place every year in November will be published in January as usual.

If I decide to take an exam for one subject, does that mean I’ll have to take exams for all of them?

No, you can choose the subjects in which you want to take your exams.

student writing an exam

Will the autumn exams be in a different format to usual?

The format of the autumn exams will be the same as the summer exams you should have taken.

If I take the autumn exams, will any non-exam assessments be taken into account with my results?

Non-exam assessments will not be taken into account for the autumn grades, except for art and design.

In other words, if you decide to sit any of the autumn exams, your grades will only be based on the written exam and not on any coursework or any other assessments you’ve already done – even if you’re taking a performance-based subject, such as music, PE or dance.

Art and design is an exception because subjects in this category never involve students taking an exam.

Art and design students who are not happy with their calculated grade will instead be able to sit a new supervised task in the autumn, and their grade will be based on this new task alone, and not on any of their portfolio work.

student writing an exam

Will I have to pay a fee to take exams in the autumn?

Not if you’re at school or college – as with regular exams, your school will pay the fees for you.

If you’re a private candidate you’ll have to pay your own fees.

Will students who take an exam in the autumn still be able to go to university this year?

This will be up to the individual universities, but hopefully yes.

Ofqual has said that it has asked universities to be flexible in their admissions decisions for students choosing to take exams in the autumn and that it has been “reassured” by their response.

“Students may still choose to take an exam even where their university or college place has been confirmed,” Ofqual commented.

“However, it will take time for the results of these exams to be issued, so they will need to discuss with their higher and further education institution whether to start their course as planned or to delay their entry.”

More like thisA-level results day 2020: here are your options whether you’ve missed your grades or made your university offers

What happens if I take an autumn exam but I get a worse grade than my calculated one?

If you decide to take your exams and you get a lower mark than your calculated one, you’ll get to keep the higher grade. This means there’s no risk attached to taking the exam.

Anyone can request a replacement certificate from their exam board that only shows the higher of their two grades.

The exam boards will have to provide this, but they will be allowed to charge an additional fee.

What happens if I miss the autumn exams but I want to retake?

After the autumn series, your next opportunity to take the exams will be summer 2021.

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