Exam regulator Ofqual has announced its approach to grading GCSE, AS and A levels in autumn 2021 and summer 2022.

There will be a number of adaptions with exams in 2022 to make exams fairer for teenagers who have had their education disrupted due to the pandemic. 

The adaptations will include a choice of topics on some GCSE exams and exam boards will give advanced information about the content of exams to allow for focused revision. 

The government has confirmed that by 2023 GCSE and A-level results will return to pre-pandemic levels. 

Swindon Advertiser: Exams have been disrupted for the past two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic (credit: PA)Exams have been disrupted for the past two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic (credit: PA)

How have grading and exams worked over the last two years?

For the past two years, regular summer exams and grading standards have not taken place due to Covid-19 after schools were closed and lessons moved online.

In 2020 and 2021, students were awarded grades based on their teacher's assessment and checked by centres.  

This decision came after teenagers were awarded exam grades based on an algorithm, which left thousands of children unable to get into their first choice of university and with much lower grades than predicted. 

How will exams be graded in 2021 and 2022?

Exam boards in 2022 will set grade boundaries based on a profile designed to mitigate the grade inflation of the last two years. 

Pupils who are taking autumn exams in 2021, with the exception of the usual November sittings for GCSE English language and maths, are for those who are re-sitting their summer 2021 exam. 

Ofqual has said exam boards will align autumn 2021 grading with summer 2021, which is the same approach taken in autumn 2020.

Grades for the next academic year will be higher than in 2019, but not as high as 2020, according to the exam regulator. 

Senior examiners will set the grade boundaries based on work produced by students.

How have grading and exams worked over the last two years?

A statement released by Ofqual said: 

"Essentially, it’s about being as fair as we can be to students. Students’ learning has been disrupted due to the pandemic through no fault of their own, and our approach, will take account of that.

"Fairness has been foremost in our minds when thinking about exams this autumn and next year, with students’ interests driving our decisions – both this year’s students and past and future students."

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi tweeted: "Exams are the fairest form of assessment and will take place in 2022.

"We’ve announced adaptations today that recognise the disruption caused to students, alongside plans for grading from @ofqual."

Speaking to BBC Radio 4 Today, Ian Bauckham, interim chair of Ofqual, said new exam processes would provide a “safety net” to pupils whose education had been disrupted by the pandemic.

“Today we are announcing a package of measures to make the transition back to normal grading and normal exams that are fair to everybody and put in place this safety net," he said.

Mr Bauckham also confirmed there will be a back-up plan, should more variants of Covid-19 emerge and cause disruption.

“It will enable us to go back to teacher assessed grades should we need to.

“We think that’s unlikely, we think we’re going to run examinations this year and are very much aiming for that, but there is a back-up plan in place, just in case.”