Ofqual and the UK Department for Education launched a consultation into grade boundaries for 2022. This was designed to ensure that students sitting exams in 2022 are not disadvantaged compared to those who were awarded grades in 2020 & 2021. As a result of the consultation, grade boundaries for summer 2022 will be set so that more students receive higher grades, providing a safety net for students in this transitionary year.
Coupled with this they are also assisting students with exam preparation, in recognition of the fact that students’ education has been disrupted by the pandemic. They will be given extra help to prepare for their exams.
For the first time since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, national examinations will be held across the UK this year. A variety of measures have been agreed between the UK governments and exams regulators, to ensure that students are well prepared and are not disadvantaged by periods of lost learning. The overall aim is to ensure that students are fairly assessed on their work.
In England, students will be able to access additional information on the focus of the exam papers for most A-level, AS-level and GCSE subjects. This information will be available from 7th February. This is designed to give students a better idea of which topics to revise.
For English Literature, Geography, History and Ancient History, a greater choice of questions will be included on the exam papers.
Students studying the B-Tec curriculum will be set fewer internal assessments.
The modifications are designed to offer students a "safety net". Many have experienced significant periods of lost education since March 2020, with schools closing and a move to online lessons.
Scotland has a different exam system to the rest of the UK. Highers are taken in the fifth and sixth year of secondary school and Nationals are taken at 16. Some independent schools follow the English system of GCSEs and A levels. For Highers and Nationals, qualifications are awarded for a combination of coursework and exams. This remains under review.
For 2022, the Scottish Qualification (SQA) has worked to remove or reduce examinations or an element of coursework in order to lighten the load. Schools and colleges were notified of changes some time ago and are well prepared.
The SQA will also offer additional guidance on examination topics.
Qualification Wales, the body that oversees Welsh exams standards, has streamlined exam content and relaxed the rules for coursework.
The Welsh exams board, WJEC, first published details of this in July, so schools are already aware of the changes. WJEC have also increased the amount of choice in papers, to reflect missed blocks of learning that many students will have experienced.
Additionally, advance exam information will be published on 7th February.
The UK has three exam boards, Pearson, OCR and AQA. They will be providing additional information for subjects on their websites. They will include a list of the topics that will be the main focus of each assessment, but will not cover the contents of the whole paper for any given subject. Candidates will still need to revise the material for the whole course and work with their teachers in order to adequately prepare.
For Maths and Science exams, sheets of formulae and equations will also be provided to students.
Grades will be decided through external marking for the first time since the pandemic started and there will be no teacher assessed grades this year. Following marking, exam boards will make adjustments, based on the overall standard of entrants and the difficulty of individual subject papers.
It has been confirmed that more lenient grade boundaries will be used which will be based on a mid-point between the boundaries used in 2019 and those agreed for teacher assessed grades in 2021. These boundaries will factor in lost learning and enable students who would otherwise just miss out on a higher grade to achieve this.
AS and A levels results are expected on Thursday 18th August, with GCSE results following on Thursday 25th August.
In a similar way to the last couple of years, colleges and universities are likely to be more flexible in their requirements this year. Students have again faced unprecedented disruption to their education and this will be taken into account.
Universities will likely place a greater emphasis on a student's acquired knowledge and extra curricular activities, to gain a more rounded picture of a student's achievements before making offers.