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Optional A-level and GCSE exams set to run in autumn of 2021

Autumn series will provide a chance to boost grades

If you are unhappy with the teacher-assessed grades you’re issued in August, you may be able to improve those grades by sitting exams in autumn. 

Exam regulator Ofqual has been tasked with setting up a full series of optional exams for later in the year and it is looking for your feedback on how they should work.

The regulator has outlined a proposal which it has opened for consultation. You can read the proposal and have your say on the website. It’s open for responses until 9 April. 

What’s happening with autumn exams?

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

If you feel that your grade doesn’t reflect your performance, or hasn’t been decided properly, then you have a right to appeal it. Info about the appeals process is available in this article on our sister site The Student Room.

If you’re unhappy with your grade, you will also have an opportunity to improve it by taking GCSE, AS and A-level exams in the autumn. These exams have been confirmed as government policy; Ofqual is now deciding how the whole process will work.

In a letter to Ofqual’s chief regulator Simon Rebus, education secretary Gavin Williamson says: 

“This year it is important that students have the opportunity to sit an exam if they wish to improve their teacher assessed grade. The government’s policy is, therefore, that there needs to be a full series of GCSE, AS and A level examinations held in the autumn and I expect Ofqual to make provision for this.”

Whatever the format of these exams, it is certain that they will be optional. If you are happy with the teacher-assessed grades that you’re issued in August, you don’t need to think about the autumn exams at all. They are simply being provided so that students can be graded on their real-life exam performance, if they choose to do so.

Autumn exams also ran after last year’s cancelled exams and, in that year, students were able to keep whichever grade was the highest from either their calculated grades or their autumn exam grade. 

What’s being proposed?

Below, we’ve summarised some of the main points of the proposal. You can read the full proposal on the website.
  • It’s expected that, if you’re unhappy with your teacher-assessed grade, you can sit exams in autumn and use whichever grade is better.
  • Any student who receives a teacher-assessed grade this summer, and anyone who was due to take their GCSE, AS and A-level exams this summer can take the autumn exams.
  • Grades for the autumn exams will only be based on the exams and not on coursework or classwork.
  • The exams will be in their usual format (as in a normal academic year) and you will sit as many as your course would normally require.
  • Normal systems for marking, reviewing marking and appeals will be as in a normal school year.

Who can respond to the consultation?

The consultation is open to anyone who wants to give feedback. You can find a link to the online response form here. It’s open until 9 April.

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