Press release

Exams head back to normality in 2023

Government and Ofqual confirm exam arrangements for students in 2023

From:              Department for EducationOfqual, and The Rt Hon Kit Malthouse MP

Published:     29 September 2022


GCSE, AS, and A level exams in England will largely return to pre-pandemic arrangements next summer as young people continue to recover from the pandemic.

In line with the plans set out last September, Ofqual has confirmed a return to pre-pandemic grading in 2023.

To protect students against the disruption of recent years, and in case students’ performance is slightly lower than before the pandemic, senior examiners will use the grades achieved by previous cohorts of pupils, along with prior attainment data, to inform their decisions about where to set grade boundaries.

This mirrors the approach used in the first years of reformed GCSEs and A levels in 2017, when early cohorts were protected against the impact of changes to the qualifications and means, for example, a typical A level student who would have achieved a grade A before the pandemic will be just as likely to get an A this summer.

The government is also confirming that students should continue to be provided with support in GCSE mathematics, physics and combined science with formulae and equation sheets, but not with advance information of exam content, as was the case last year.

The decisions reflect the reduced levels of disruption this cohort have experienced compared to the cohorts of the previous two years. Ofqual has launched a consultation on the plans for formulae and equation sheets today.

Education Secretary Kit Malthouse said:

Students working towards their qualifications next year expect fairness in exams and grading arrangements, which is why we are transitioning back to pre-pandemic normality.

Schools are doing a great job in supporting students to catch up and get back on track including through the National Tutoring Programme, which continues to provide one-to-one or small group tuition to students that need extra help.

Chief Regulator, Dr Jo Saxton said:

This summer was an important step back towards normality. Our plans for 2023 take us a step further, whilst also recognising the impact of Covid.

I’ve visited schools and colleges up and down the country and I’ve seen young people’s admirable resilience and dedication. Giving the 2023 cohort some protection against any impact of Covid disruption is the right thing to do. Our approach to grading in 2023 will provide a soft landing for students as we continue the process of taking the exam system back to normal.

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