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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. 

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. 

Find out how to appeal your teacher-assessed grades.

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. 

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.”

These exams 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. 

How will they work?

Below, we’ve summarised some of the main points of the proposal which was open for feedback in April and confirmed in May. You can read the full results of the consultation on the website.
  • 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.
  • ​​​​​Exam boards will be offering exams in October for AS and A levels, and in November and December for GCSEs.
  • Exams will be available for all GCSE and A level subjects.
  • For AS levels, exams will be available for biology, chemistry, physics, maths and further maths. 
  • Exam boards may offer AS exams in other subjects. You should check with the relevant exam board to find out if your subject will be offered.
  • All subjects will be assessed by exam except for art & design which will be assessed by a task set and marked by the exam board.
  • 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.

For more detailed information on how everything will work this year take a look at Ofqual's guide for students.

How long do I have to decide whether to take the autumn exams?

You should check with your school as they will probably have their own deadlines, but Ofqual has said that the deadline for entry to AS and A-level autumn exams is 8 September 2021. 

The deadline for entry to GCSE autumn exams is 4 October 2021.

When are the autumn exams happening?

GCSE exams will run from Monday 1 November to Friday 3 December 2021.

AS and A-level exams will run from Monday 4 October to Friday 22 October 2021

The exam boards have published their timetables for the autumn exams – here are the links to all the dates and times you’ll need.



This is the timetable for AQA GCSE exams in November 2021.

Pearson Edexcel

Here’s where you can find the Pearson Edexcel timetable for November 2021 GCSEs.


You can download the OCR timetable for November 2021 GCSEs here.

When will I get my GCSE results from the autumn exams?

AQA has said that schools will be sent the results on Wednesday 23 February 2022, and students will receive them on Thursday 24 February 2022.

AS and A-levels


Here’s the timetable for AQA AS and A-level exams in October 2021.

Pearson Edexcel

This is the Pearson Edexcel timetable for October AS and A-levels in October 2021
(They have titled it November, but the exam dates are in October.)


Here’s where you can download the OCR timetable for AS and A-level exams for October 2021.

When will I get my AS and A-level results from the autumn exams?

AQA has said that schools and colleges will be sent the A-level autumn exam results on Wednesday 15 December 2021, and students will get them on Thursday 16 December 2021. 

What time will the autumn exams start?

For morning exams, most centres will start the exam at 9am and for afternoon exams, most will start at 1.30pm.

You should check timings with your exam centre before the day though, as they can start exams up to 30 minutes earlier or later than these times. Most exam centres will tell you to arrive at least 10 minutes before the exam begins.

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