Ofqual confirms changes to exams next year

Following a consultation, Ofqual has confirmed the changes it will require exam boards to make to exams and assessments next year. This includes changes to 15 A level subjects, and 25 GCSEs. Based on the most commonly taken combinations of GCSEs, most GCSE students will benefit from the changes being made.

There will be changes to how content is assessed in GCSE geography, history and ancient history, to help teachers and students cover that content in appropriate depth.

There will also be changes to GCSE English literature, to introduce a choice of topics on which students are required to answer questions in their exams. The government, which is responsible for content, has decided to allow for this change in light of the responses to the consultation. As this subject is taken by the majority of students, and typically taught alongside English language, this will ease the pressure on many students and teachers.

There will also be changes to the requirement for a specified number of days of fieldwork in a number of subjects. Teachers widely welcomed our proposed changes to the requirement to carry out GCSE geography fieldwork, while noting the importance of fieldwork to the subject. A number of respondents argued strongly for a similar adjustment to be made to AS and A level geography, because of the potential obstacles they foresee for students undertaking fieldwork during the next academic year. As such, Ofqual has decided to align the approach in A level geography to that of GCSE, although A level students will still have to undertake an individual investigation.

Ofqual has also confirmed similar decisions for GCSE, AS and A level geology; AS and A level environmental science; and modified the arrangements for observation in GCSE astronomy
There will also be changes to how the assessment of students’ spoken language skills is reported in modern foreign language GCSEs – students’ speaking skills will be assessed through a teacher endorsement alongside the 9 to 1 grade. Common assessment criteria will be produced for teachers to use when assessing students’ spoken language skills, so that these can be assessed within teaching, giving centres some flexibility over how they approach the oral component of the assessment.

There will also be a range of modifications to the non-exam assessment arrangements in a number of subjects to accommodate potential public health requirements, for example, GCSE food preparation and nutrition, GCSE, AS and A level music and GCSE physical education.

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