Summer 2021 GCSE and A-Level Assessments

Following the government’s announcement that formal GCSE and A-Level examinations have been cancelled again, we outline how children will be assessed and why it is important to keep on learning.


How will GCSE and A-Level students be assessed for their final grades?

  • Teachers will assess pupils only on what they have been taught (this can be from past lessons, and what they are taught at school over the next few months).
  • Algorithms will not be used.
  • Teachers and schools may set their own assessments to help determine grades.
  • Teachers and schools can use ‘question banks’ from exam boards to assess their pupils if they choose.

Detailed guidance from Ofqual is available here.

What will GCSE and A-Level students be assessed on?

‘Evidence’ for final grades can be from:

  • Work already completed.
  • Work to be completed.
  • Mock exams.
  • Coursework.
  • Essays.
  • Tests or exam questions already completed.
  • Answers to questions from ‘question banks’ provided by exam boards.
  • The exam board, Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) request that evidence is specifically: 3 pieces of work one of which must be a full, mock exam paper sat in controlled conditions. Other exam boards are less specific about evidence.
  • The majority of schools are running formal mock examinations for the purposes of assessment and evidence submission.

How will home schooled students (‘private candidates’) be assessed for their GCSE and A-Level grades?

Private candidates will need to work with a school, college or exam centre to provide evidence for them to be graded.

Every year Simply Learning Tuition works with exclusively home schooled students, preparing many for GCSE’s and A-Levels. Despite exam cancellations again this year and disruption for private candidates, such as a change of exam centre, or exam board, we are ensuring that all of our private candidates receive final grades. Last year, some exam centres were able to facilitate teacher led grades from tutors who were represented by reputable agencies. Tutors were required to submit their grade predictions and substantial evidence to support this.

When is GCSE and A-Level Results day 2021?

Results will be released earlier this year to allow for appeals.

  • A-Level results will be released on the 10th August.
  • GCSE results will be released on the 12th August.

Why it is important to keep on learning

Upon the news of exam cancellations in 2020 and 2021, we have reiterated the importance of children continuing to learn. Aside from preparing for the next stage in their education  your child also needs the knowledge required for them to cope with the rigorous academic challenges of their next examinations, or at University. In fact, many children did complete various forms of assessments with their schools last year in order to ‘calculate’ their grades.

This year, Ofqual have formally announced that, ‘Results will be based on completed and future work, so keep doing your best’.

We firmly believe that education is a tool for wider enrichment and source of curiosity, rather than just a vehicle to pass examinations. Simply Learning Tuition works with tutors who often take on a mentoring role and foster skills beyond academia, ready to pick up where your child’s school have left off.

Consolidation is key

It is important to review recently completed school-work methodically in order to aid retention – a key purpose of the exams.

‘Learning loss’ is phenomenon usually associated with the long summer holidays, when students lose the stride and stamina that they have built up over the academic year. Studies have shown that over the summer holidays alone, students lose on average one-month of learning (Cooper et al). From our perspective, students should be working to minimise any learning loss, especially at such crucial stages of education and with unprecedented circumstances.

Schools across the country are handling things differently and providing students with different levels of work and support. It is important that when your child arrives at university to start their degree or begins the first year of their A Levels, they are not at a disadvantage compared to students from other schools who perhaps had better access to online resources, or teachers who were comfortable with online teaching. Consolidation is the first step in ensuring they are prepared to commence the next step in their education.

Study skills are essential and should be maintained

Throughout their school careers, students build up a range of study skills, as well as academic knowledge. This is not coincidental; schools, from a young age, are preparing their students for the independent learning at university (which can sometimes come as a shock to students!). Students find themselves in a new environment surrounded by news friends and in complete control of their time, needing to find ways to self-motivate for their studies. Without teachers to hold them accountable and be their biggest champions, students have to find their own motivation and study habits, as well as getting used to a new style of writing and presenting ideas. Many students struggle with this, during their first year of university so now is a perfect opportunity for them to get a head of the curve should take control of their learning, not being afraid to ask for help.

Considering using a private tutor? 

Please do not hesitate to contact us here. Read about what you should look for in a private tutor here.