Coronavirus

Examinations Update

Frequently Asked Questions

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To continue to support teachers, students and their parents, we have developed this FAQ area about changes to the summer examination series.

Due to the complexity and fast changing nature of the situation, these FAQs are updated regularly with the latest information, when available.

If you are a student / parent, please continue to contact your school, in the first instance, for exam related queries.

General

Why did the summer 2020 exams need to be cancelled?

On Friday 20 March 2020, all educational settings closed to everyone except the children of critical workers and vulnerable children. The coronavirus outbreak is expected to continue having a significant impact on the education system, and the country, for months to come. The Minister for Education took the decision to cancel exams to give students, parents and teachers certainty, and to enable schools and colleges to focus on supporting vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

Have examinations been cancelled for all awarding bodies?

Examinations for all A levels and GCSEs have been cancelled. This includes A levels and GCSEs provided by AQA, CCEA, OCR, Pearson and WJEC (Eduqas).

As a student, who was due to sit my GCSEs / A levels in Summer 2020, should I continue to study?

CCEA advises students to continue to follow any work that your school teachers have asked you to complete. While there may be no examinations this summer, your GCSE/A level course has been designed to ensure that you cover knowledge in your subjects that will help prepare you for the next stage in your education or for employment.

Might the exams be reinstated if the coronavirus (COVID-19) is not as bad as expected?

The decision has been taken to cancel all exams this summer. Further and GCSE, GCE, Vocational Qualifications, Occupational Studies and Entry Level qualifications can all be found under the ‘Useful Documents’ tab on this section of our website.

Can centres still run GCSEs/A levels for private candidates this May/June if they choose to do so?

Awarding organisations will not be issuing papers for this summer’s GCSE, AS and A levels, so there will not be an opportunity to sit them at any centre.

Will I receive a refund for my re-sit/external exam? If so when and how?

CCEA will share further information with centres on fees for awarding grades this summer, in due course.

How will we be assessed when some of our course content has not been covered by our teachers?

As schools closed on 20 March 2020, CCEA understands that some internal and external assessments cannot be covered. Teachers have been asked to provide a centre assessment grade based on all existing records and evidence available to them.

Will my mocks/classroom exams be used to provide a grade this year?

Teachers have been asked to draw on all existing records and available evidence (as far as possible in the context of current public health advice) to establish a centre assessment grade, this may include mock and classroom assessments. However, the final Grade awarded may be different from the centre assessment grade as CCEA will carry out a statistical standardisation exercise.

Will an additional examination series be available in the next academic year?

There will NOT be an additional examination series for CCEA qualifications. There may be additional examinations for non-CCEA GCSE and A Level qualifications.

We are currently working on the assumption that CCEA will operate its normal examination timetable for November 2020, January 2021, March 2021 and Summer 2021. Students dissatisfied with grades provided for Summer 2020 will have the opportunity to sit unit(s) as part of the CCEA examination timetable. If students choose to sit unit(s), the highest grade from either the calculated grade or examination grade will stand.

Will private candidates be awarded a grade in summer 2020?

Where centres have accepted entries from private candidates, those students should be included where the Head of Centre is confident that they and their staff have seen sufficient evidence of the student’s achievement to make an objective judgement. We are urgently exploring whether there are alternative options for those students who do not have an existing relationship with a centre and who need results this summer for progression purposes. The Head of Centre should communicate their decision to any private candidates and take advice from CCEA Awarding Organisation where cases are not straightforward. It will be important for centres to make sure that their entries are complete and accurate, as grades will only be issued for those students who have been entered.

Will I have to repeat a year?

CCEA will issue grades to all students entered for Full Qualification outcomes at GCSE, AS and A Level in summer 2020. If you are not happy with your grade or grades, you will be able to sit at the next available examination series for your subjects.

Grading of Qualifications

As the summer 2020 examinations have been cancelled, will CCEA be issuing grades for all levels and types of qualifications?

On 16 April, the Minister of Education, Peter Weir MLA, set the way forward for the awarding of GCE and GCSE Qualifications. Since then we have been working alongside regulators, awarding organisations and the relevant government departments to finalise arrangements for the awarding of all CCEA qualifications to include GCSE, GCE as well as Vocational Qualifications, Occupational Studies and Entry Level qualifications. Further guidance documents and podcasts can be found on this section of the website.

What evidence do schools need to supply to CCEA?

Following instruction from the Minister of Education, CCEA Regulation has published guidance to schools explaining the information schools should submit to CCEA. The guidance explains that for every GCSE, AS and A level subject, CCEA will require each school, college or other exam centre to submit the following information:

  • A centre assessment grade for each student – the judgement submitted to CCEA by the Head of Centre about the grade that each student is most likely to have achieved if they had sat their exams and internally assessed components. This professional judgement is derived from evidence that is held within the centre (school / college) and which has been reviewed by subject teachers and relevant heads of department.
  • The rank order of students within each grade – for example, for all those students with a grade C in GCSE Mathematics, a rank order where 1 is the most secure/highest attaining student, and so on.

We are continuing to work with regulators and other awarding organisations to finalise arrangements submission of this information and will share plans with you as soon as possible.

Will CCEA take in to account results from previous cohorts?

Following instruction from the Minister of Education, CCEA Regulation published guidance to schools explaining how centres should create centre assessment grades for GCSE and AS and A Level qualifications. The guidance also explains how CCEA will use a statistical model to standardise grades in each subject. This will involve a combination of a range of evidence, including:

  • expected grade distributions at full CCEA cohort level;
  • results in previous years at individual centres; and
  • the prior attainment profile of students at centre level.

When will the arrangements for CCEA Awarding Organisation vocational and other non A level / GCSE qualifications be announced?

CCEA Regulation has now published guidance for schools and colleges on how qualifications, other than GCSE and GCE, such as CCEA Entry Level, CCEA Occupational Studies and CCEA Vocational Qualifications will be awarded. These can be found on this section of the website under ‘Useful Documents’

Will candidates have an opportunity to sit the examinations if they are unhappy with results issued in Summer 2020?

Yes, students will have the chance to sit the examinations, by summer 2021 at the latest. It is intended that the examination timetable will operate as normal 20/21 with a November and March series for GCSE Single and Double Award Science;  a January series for GCSE Mathematics and English Language; and the opportunity for re-entering for all other GCE and GCSE qualifications in summer 2021.

How will results be calculated for those candidates who intended to sit units in summer 2020?

Grades will be calculated for all candidates cashing in at qualification level, including those were cashing in and intending to sit units in summer 2020. Grades for these candidates will be calculated in the same way as all other candidates cashing in for that qualification. CCEA has a dedicated Covid-19 section where you will find more detailed information.

How do students with special circumstances proceed now? Who do they contact to ensure their needs are taken into consideration?

Special consideration requests, for example if a student is unable to take an assessment or suffers a traumatic event that might affect their performance, will not apply this summer. Instead, judgements should reflect how students would have performed should have examinations gone ahead. Where illness or other personal circumstances might have affected performance, centres should bear that in mind when making their judgements.

Will I have to sit my AS and A2 exams in the one year 2021?

Students who were due to sit their AS exams in 2020 will not be required to take those exams through an additional examinations timetable. Instead, they will be treated in a similar way to those taking A levels.

All AS students will receive an AS grade and there will be no AS exams until Summer 2021. The grade awarded will be based on a range of evidence, including centre assessed grades and centre rank orders, and will not contribute to A level results in 2021.

In Summer 2021, this year’s AS students who have chosen to progress to A level will have two options. They can either choose to only sit the A2 units, with the A level grade based on their performance in those units, or they can choose to sit AS and A2 units. If they choose to sit the AS units alongside the A2 units, in Summer 2021, they will be awarded the better grade from either route.

Will my mocks / classroom exams be used to provide an AS grade this year?

Following instruction from the Minister of Education, CCEA Regulation published guidance to schools explaining the information schools should use to inform centre assessment grades. The guidance explains that for AS, like with A Level and GCSE, teachers should draw on all the information they have available to make an objective judgement. The range of information teachers can use is outlined in the guidance.

How will vocational qualifications be graded or awarded?

On 6 May CCEA Regulation issued further guidance on Vocational Qualifications which can be accessed here.

How will Entry Level qualifications be awarded?

On 6 May CCEA Regulation issued further guidance on the awarding of CCEA’s Entry Level qualifications which can be found here.

A level & AS level

Will my mocks / classroom exams be used to provide an AS grade this year?

Following instruction from the Minister of Education, CCEA Regulation published guidance to schools explaining the information schools should use to inform centre assessment grades. The guidance explains that for AS, like with A Level and GCSE, teachers should draw on all the information they have available to make an objective judgement. The range of information teachers can use is outlined in the guidance.

Will I have to sit my AS and A2 exams in the one year 2021?

Students who were due to sit their AS exams in 2020 will not be required to take those exams through an additional examinations timetable. Instead, they will be treated in a similar way to those taking A levels.

All AS students will receive an AS grade and there will be no AS exams until Summer 2021. The grade awarded will be based on a range of evidence, including centre assessed grades and centre rank orders, and will not contribute to A level results in 2021.

In Summer 2021, this year’s AS students who have chosen to progress to A level will have two options. They can either choose to only sit the A2 units, with the A level grade based on their performance in those units, or they can choose to sit AS and A2 units. If they choose to sit the AS units alongside the A2 units, in Summer 2021, they will be awarded the better grade from either route.

Will CCEA use my AS results only to calculate my grade?

For A level, we anticipate that the calculated grade, which uses statistical predictions based on previous student performance combined with centre assessed grades and centre rank orders, will provide a reliable grade outcome. This will include the use of AS performance data if it exists and is available.

Students will not be required to take A level examinations through an additional sitting, such as an autumn series. They will have the opportunity to sit examinations as part of the Summer 2021 examination timetable.

I am currently in Y13 and had entered AS units; how will my A-level grade be calculated in summer 2021?

AS qualifications are not only stand-alone qualifications but also contribute to A level qualifications – AS units are usually taken in Year 13 and A2 units in Year 14. Because of the contribution that AS outcomes make towards A level results, it has been important for us to fully consider the implications for A level qualifications in Summer 2021. Students who were due to sit their AS exams in 2020 will not be required to take those exams through an additional examinations timetable. Instead, they will be treated in a similar way to those taking A levels.

All AS students will receive an AS grade and there will be no AS exams until Summer 2021. The grade awarded will be based on a range of evidence. Awarding organisations are working towards the model on which grades will be awarded and in which centre assessed grades and centre rank orders will be used. The nature of the AS grade awarded in 2020 will not allow it to contribute to A level results in 2021. In Summer 2021, students will have two options for their A level award. If a student chooses to only sit the required A2 units, then their AS outcomes will be calculated using statistical predictions based on their performance in the A2 units. If they choose to sit any AS units, alongside the A2 units, they will be awarded the highest grade at A level from either route.

If I decide to re-enter AS in summer 2021 do I have to sit all units?

Your achievement in the unit(s) you do not wish to re-enter will be calculated based on your performance in the examinations and assessments you complete.

If I decide to re-enter some AS units in summer 2021, how will my overall A-level grade be calculated?

Consideration of Summer 2021 arrangements is ongoing and further information will be available in due course.

Why will the AS grade awarded in Summer 2020 for my AS qualifications not contribute to my overall A level grade in summer 2021?

The nature of the AS grade awarded in 2020 will not allow it to contribute to A level results in 2021. The overall A Level outcomes are usually calculated by an accumulation of marks, awarded at the unit level, which equates to an overall qualification grade. As summer 2020 grades will not be calculated using marks, it is not possible to use AS grades for 2021 A Level grading.

However, the AS grade awarded in summer 2020 will enable students to:

  • make final A level choices and to progress into the A level year;
  • complete UCAS forms in the autumn for university entry in 2021; and
  • provide evidence of educational achievement if the student moves towards employment or a different pathway.

GCSE

I am currently not in Year 12, but had entered some GCSE units in summer 2020; how will my GCSE grade be calculated in summer 2021?

Students who were due to sit GCSE exams that would have led to a whole GCSE qualification this summer will be issued a grade using a combination of average centre performance, centre assessed grades and rank order.

Students entered for GCSE units in Summer 2020 that will lead to a GCSE grade in 2021 should not be issued with a grade. For those students, there will be two options. In 2021 they can sit the units they planned to take next year, and not the unit(s) they entered for in Summer 2020. These 2020 units will have a mark calculated using statistical predictions based on their performance in the 2021 units. As a result, an overall GCSE grade will be awarded in 2021. Alternatively, they can choose to sit all the units in Summer 2021. Whichever option a student chooses, they will be awarded the highest grade.

For GCSE students, there will be no additional examinations timetable above the already agreed November 2020, January 2021, March 2021 and Summer 2021 timetable provided by CCEA. This means that students who are dissatisfied with their grade outcomes provided by calculated grades will be able to sit some GCSEs in November, January and March. The remainder of the components will be offered in Summer 2021.

The timetable for November 2020 will include: Double Award Science (DAS) units in Biology, Chemistry and Physics Single Award Science (SAS) units in Biology, Chemistry and Physics The timetable for January 2021 will include: GCSE Mathematics (All units, 1–8) GCSE English Language (Unit 1 and 4) The timetable for March 2021 will include: Double Award Science (DAS) units in Biology, Chemistry and Physics Single Award Science (SAS) units in Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

Summer 2021 will include all GCSE units as timetabled.

Will there be an opportunity for GCSE candidates to sit examinations at a later date?

For GCSE students, there will be no additional examinations timetable above the already agreed November 2020, January 2021, March 2021 and Summer 2021 timetable provided by CCEA. This means that students who are dissatisfied with their grade outcomes provided by calculated grades will be able to sit some GCSEs in November, January and March. The remainder of the components will be offered in Summer 2021.

The timetable for November 2020 will include: Double Award Science (DAS) units in Biology, Chemistry and Physics Single Award Science (SAS) units in Biology, Chemistry and Physics The timetable for January 2021 will include: GCSE Mathematics (All units, 1–8) GCSE English Language (Unit 1 and 4) The timetable for March 2021 will include: Double Award Science (DAS) units in Biology, Chemistry and Physics Single Award Science (SAS) units in Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

Summer 2021 will include all GCSE units as timetabled.

Coursework

What about my coursework, how do I hand it in?

CCEA guidance was issued to schools on 27th March, explaining that all internal assessment activities must stop. This is because all schools sites are only open for key worker children and challenging for schools and students to fulfil the requirements of the specifications and for public health reasons.

Should I continue to complete my coursework?

CCEA guidance was issued to schools on 27th March, explaining that all internal assessment activities must stop. This is because all schools sites are only open for key worker children and challenging for schools and students to fulfil the requirements of the specifications and for public health reasons.

Will coursework count towards my marks?

Teachers have been asked to draw on all existing records and available evidence to agree on a centre assessment grade rather than a mark. This may include coursework. This may include coursework where it is available.

What should I do with my AS coursework that I completed this year? Will it go towards my overall A level grade awarded in summer 2021?

Schools have been asked to retain all coursework securely. Coursework that was due to be submitted in summer 2020 can be used for submission and moderation in summer 2021.Further information will be available in due course.

Vocational

I completed all my assessments before my school/college closed (before lockdown), will my results still be calculated?

Your result will be based on the assessments that you have completed in the normal way. Provided that you have completed 100% of your assessments, your result will not need to be based on a calculation on estimates from your centre.

I wasn't able to complete all my assessments before my school/college closed because of lockdown, will I get a grade/result this year?

If your qualification is to be awarded by a calculation approach, your result will be based on a calculated result from your teacher’s/lecturer’s/tutor’s estimate of likely attainment had you taken your assessments this summer and a range of statistical evidence. (for further detail, see next question)

If my qualification is to be awarded using calculation , how will my grade be calculated?

Calculated results for students will be based on a range of evidence. They may be based in part on teacher, trainer or tutor judgements of the result you would most likely have achieved had you been able to complete your assessments in summer 2020. This will be combined with statistical evidence to arrive at a result. Your centre will have more details on the awarding organisation you are entered with, and the detail on how it will calculate students’ outcomes.

If I receive a certificate this summer, will it indicate that my grade was achieved using this summer's exceptional awarding arrangements?

This summer’s certificates will appear the same as any other year’s certificates for the same qualification. The grades/outcomes achieved will be of the same value and have the same recognition status as under normal circumstances.

I am taking a qualification that requires a licence to practice, will I receive a calculated grade?

For licence to practice qualifications, a calculated grade may not be appropriate because to qualify for certification, evidence of competency is required. Assessment for these types of qualifications may need to be delayed. Your centre will be able to advise you on arrangements for these qualification types.

I am taking a qualification that requires evidence of occupational competency, will I receive a calculated grade?

Some qualifications that involve evidence of occupational competency are not suitable for a calculated approach to grading, because to qualify for certification, evidence of competency is required. Assessment for these types of qualifications may need to be delayed. Your centre will be able to advise you on arrangements for these qualification types.

If I don't agree with my grade can I appeal?

Under the circumstances, the normal arrangements for reviews of moderation and appeals will not apply.

We are currently considering what arrangements might be put in place to allow an effective appeal. More information will be made available to teachers, learners, parents and carers at the time results are issued, to facilitate any appeals this summer.

Is there an opportunity to sit the assessment at a later stage?

Some awarding organisations are investigating opportunities for later sittings of assessments for learners who have received a calculated grade. We will be advising centres of this over the coming weeks. Your school/college can provide more details on this.

I have applied to attend FE/HE to study further, will my calculated grade be accepted?

CCEA Regulation has been working with key stakeholders in education to ensure learners’ interests are protected and progressing to FE/HE/employment will continue as normal under the awarding arrangements in place for this summer. Qualifications awarded under the arrangements in place this summer will hold the same value as other years.

Can awarding organisations allow me to sit my examinations online?

The vast majority of qualifications for awarding this summer will be through a calculation method. However, some awarding organisations may elect to adapt assessments to allow opportunities for sittings later in the year, or for instances where social distancing measures are still in place. These may include online assessments. Your centre will keep you informed of any such developments.

When will I receive my results/certificate?

We are working with awarding organisations to ensure that issue of results should meet the scheduled published results dates. You will find further details on individual AO websites.

How do I know if my result is based on all my assessments completed or if it is a calculated grade?

Your school/college/centre will have this information and will be able to advise you on this.

Level 1 and 2 Qualifications

What will happen with these? Will it be the same as GCSEs?

We are still considering the fairest way to issue grades for learners who are studying qualifications other than GCSEs and A levels, such as CCEA Level 1 and 2 qualifications.  We are working with other awarding organisations and regulators across the UK to consider solutions. We will share more detail on plans as soon as we can.

Private Candidates

I have received notification from the centre who accepted my entry to say that they will not be providing me with a centre assessment grade this summer, what will I do?

If you have received notification from the centre to say that they will not be providing you with a centre assessment grade this summer, please contact the CCEA helpline, [email protected] for further information.

Can you recommend a centre who may be willing to accept my entry for Summer 2020, as my original centre have said they will no longer do this?

Please contact the CCEA helpline, [email protected] for further information.

I have had to find a new centre to take my entry. What is the original centre’s obligation to me with regards to fees that I have paid?

You should discuss with your centre your entitlement to refund.

Is my centre able to review evidence that I can supply about my performance and can they contact my tutor?

Yes, we have advised centres that they can consider evidence supplied by candidates and, where necessary, they may contact tutors. This does not guarantee that centres will accept this evidence.

You should contact the CCEA helpline, [email protected] should the centre inform you that they will not be providing you with a centre assessment grade and they indicate that they:

  • will not or are not able to accept the evidence you have provided; and
  • will not or are not able to contact your tutor.

Part Time Study

How will I get my grades, if I have only been studying part-time?

Teachers have been asked to draw on all existing records and available evidence (as far as possible in the context of current public health advice) to establish a centre assessment grade. We want teachers to make an objective judgement of the grade each student would have been most likely to get if they had taken their exam(s) in a subject and completed any other assessments required for the qualification this summer.

March 2020 GCSE Sciences

I sat a CCEA GCSE Science exam in February this year, will I receive a result for this?

The issue of results for all students who sat a CCEA Science exam in February 2020 continues as normal.  Centres (schools/colleges) will be making arrangements for getting these results out to candidates. Candidates will receive their results on Thursday 9 April 2020.

Can I have my results over the telephone?

Unfortunately, we cannot give your results over the telephone because we have no proof of your identity. Please contact your Examinations Officer at your centre (school/college) who will be able to provide you with your results

Can I get my results online?

Not for the March series. We have a Results Online service which is currently available in the summer series only for all GCE AS and A2 candidates who have cashed-in their units.

My name has been misspelt on my Provisional Statement of Results. Can I get this changed?

Yes. Please ask the Examinations Officer at your centre (school/college) to contact our Entries section to make this change on your behalf. It is important that your Examinations Officer contacts us as soon as possible before the certificates are issued.

I sat a CCEA GCSE Science exam and I am not happy with my result, can I have a review?

If you have a query about your results, you should contact your centre (school/college) about using the Post Results service. You can request a review of marking of your script(s) by using this service however all applications for this must come from your centre. CCEA cannot accept requests from candidates or parents/carers/guardians.

Can I get a copy of my completed examination paper?

You will be able to request a copy of your examination paper after a remark or your original paper. You should contact your centre (school/college) about using the Post Results service.

How much does service cost?

Details of March 2020 Post Results service, including closing dates and costs, can be accessed here.

How long will it take to get a clerical check?

The outcome of a clerical check will be reported to your centre within 10 calendar days of receiving your request.

How long will it take to get a Review of Marking?

The outcome of the review of marking will be reported to your centres within 20 calendar days of receiving your request. All outcomes of review of marking/clerical checks enquiries are returned to centres and not directly to candidates.