It has been another unusual year for Year 11 and Year 13 students, with GCSE and A-Level exams being cancelled for a second year due to the pandemic. The government has detailed the exam grading for 2021 will allow teachers to have the deciding say in the grades students will receive; it is an unfamiliar concept to understand for both students and parents. We have compiled some useful advice for students who will be undergoing their GCSE and A-Level exams a little differently this year, and for parents who may be concerned at what these grades mean for the future of their children.


How will GCSE and A-Level Grading Work in 2021?


GCSE and A-Level students will be awarded grades by their subject teachers as oppose to sitting formal exams because of the disruption caused by the Coronavirus pandemic to their studies. Teachers will be asked to honestly base the grades of their students on the work they have done/will do throughout the course of this academic year. This work can include coursework, mock exams, essays and in-class assessments. It is important to remember that students will only be assessed on topics they have been taught. Exam boards will be provided teachers will guidance on how to most effectively and fairly assess their students’ grades.


How can I prepare for the assessments?


It is more important than ever to take lessons seriously – you will be assessed on your attitude to learning as well as the work you provide during the in-class assessments. Make sure you show up to your lessons on time, always pay attention, and put in extra effort outside of the classroom in order to strengthen your knowledge. If you find working out of the classroom difficult, a tutor or mentor may be able to help you with study tips, understanding key concepts, confidence and revision. Teachers have until the 18th of June 2021 to submit their assessed grades, any work completed up until this date will be taken into consideration when calculating your final grade. The government guidance on what teachers can use to assess you includes the following:

  • Assessments provided by the exam board, including exam questions, past papers, practice or sample papers
  • Coursework, even if this has not been fully completed
  • Substantial classwork or homework (including work you’ve done during remote learning)
  • Any tests you’ve taken in class
  • Any mock exams you've taken
  • Records of your capability and performance during the course in performance-based subjects like music, drama and PE
  • Records of your progress and performance over the course of study

If you need extra support or clarification on the assessment criteria, talk to your teachers. It is up to the individual teacher to choose what form of assessment they think it best, but they will be asked to provide evidence as to why they have awarded you a certain grade. By talking to your teachers, you will be more likely to identify any areas you need to focus on in order to meet the assessment criteria.

Make sure that you are aware of the appeals process for the 2021 exams. Results will be published earlier than usual, Tuesday 10th August for GCSE results and Thursday 12th August for A-Level results. This allows students to have more time to appeal any grades they are unhappy with or believe have been graded unfairly. To familiarise yourself with the appeals process we recommend visiting the government website which can be found here.

If you think that you or your child may benefit from private tuition, or you would like to have a discussion on how Think Tutors can support Year 11 and Year 13 students through their in-class assessments please contact the Think Tutors team at info@thinktutors.com.