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Teachers in England will be asked to grade their students. These grades will be based on a combination of mock exams and coursework. All subjects will have optional assessments set by exam boards, but these won't be used to determine final grades.
Students in Wales will receive centre determined grades from their teachers this summer, with external assessments and summer exams both being cancelled. These grades will be awarded based on a student's mock exams and coursework throughout the year.
Schools and colleges will have access to a framework, set out by Qualifications Wales, to help determine grades.
Students in Northern Ireland will receive grades from their teachers via a method of moderation. CCEA, Northern Ireland’s exam board, have said that students' grades will be awarded based on the work they complete in class. CCEA have also provided schools with tests that they can use to assess students.
Note: it has already been decided for students in Scotland that Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers exams will be cancelled for the 2021 summer. Scottish students can find more information about Highers and Advanced Highers on the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) website.
Private candidates across England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be assessed in a similar way to students in schools and colleges. You'll only be assessed on what you've studied. If you're studying independently, you'll need to work with a school or college, or exam centre, to provide the evidence needed to determine your grades.
If you're not yet registered with an exam centre, don't panic. The Joint Qualifications Council (JCQ) will provide a list of centres on their website by the end of March that you can register with. The list will outline which centres can take on your qualification.
A-Level results day will fall on 10 August 2021 for students in England.
Students in Wales will receive provisional grades in June ahead of the official A-Level results day on 10 August. This is to give students more time to appeal their grades before they're confirmed.
A-Level students in Northern Ireland will receive their results on 10 August 2021.
No, teacher-assessed grades will not be moderated in 2021.
Teacher-assessed grades for England will likely take into account tests, homework, mock exams and teachers’ observations.
Welsh students already know that their final A-Level grades will be determined by their coursework throughout the year, rather than any external assessments or exams.
Students in Northern Ireland will be assessed on their mock exams and coursework.
Teachers are required to submit grades to exam boards by 18 June 2021. This should leave teachers with plenty of time to look at each student’s work and make a fair, well-researched judgement.
Students will have the right to appeal their A-Level grades if they're unhappy. The first appeal will go through your school or college. This can then be taken further to England's exam board, Ofqual, if required. The appeal deadline is Friday 17 September.
Welsh students will have the right to appeal their grades. Students must first appeal through their school or college. If needed, this appeal can be taken further to the Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC).
Students will be able to appeal their teacher-assessed grades if they're unhappy. You can first appeal to your school, college or exam centre. If you still don't think you have the correct grade, you can appeal to CCEA. They will then decide whether the grade awarded by your school was "reasonable or unreasonable". Be aware that your grade could go up or down upon this review.
If your place at university is dependent upon your appeal, let the university you hold a place with know that you're still waiting on a response to your appeal. To have your appeal prioritised, talk to your school, college or exam centre.
Sit the exams in the autumn
You'll have the option to sit exams this autumn if you're unhappy with your teacher-assessed grades. This will apply to all A-Level subjects. Exams will take place in October and be in their usual format.
Take a year out and sit the exams in summer 2022
Another option is to take a gap year and then reapply to university next year, completing your exams in spring or summer 2022.
But before you decide on this route, it’s worth considering how much Coronavirus has disrupted the following:
- International travel
- Gap year programs
- Employment options
You should also consider how you’d perform in an exam after having a year out from full-time education unless you plan on resitting the entire year.
The important point to stress here is that you don’t need to make any big decisions right now. If you don’t feel that you're ready yet to make a call on taking a gap year, don’t. Continue with your university applications, as you can see how you feel in a few months once you know your results. In reality, you won’t need to make a concrete decision until later than June/July as you can still accept a place, but then change your mind if need be.
Remind yourself too that every other prospective university student is in the same boat. Each student is having to navigate through this tricky period, so you won’t be the only one. There’s no need to heap too much pressure or expectation onto yourself or the decisions you make right now.
Go through UCAS Clearing 2021
Don’t forget about Clearing 2021, which gives you another chance to find a place on a university course if your grades don’t meet your expectations. You might not need to use this alternative option, but it pays to be prepared.
Clearing is due to open on Monday 5 July 2021 and once it does, Whatuni will have a dedicated Clearing section where you can search and compare the details of available courses.
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