Advice for Year 11 and Year 13 Students: GCSEs and A Levels

Advice for Year 11 and Year 13 Students: GCSEs and A Levels

With GCSE and A-level exams being cancelled due to the pandemic, it’s certainly an unusual time for Year 11 and Year 13 students. With the government now detailing how exam grading will work for 2021, and teachers having the deciding say in the grades that students will receive, it’s an unfamiliar concept to grasp after preparing for exams for so long. Here’s some advice for students who will be undergoing their GCSE and A-Levels a little differently this year.

How Will GCSE And A-level Grading Work In 2021?

GCSE and A-Level students will receive grades awarded by their teachers in place of exams this year because of the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Teachers will be asked to base your grades on work you've done/will do throughout the whole of your course. This can include coursework, mock exams, essays and in-class tests. However, it’s important to note students will only be assessed on topics they’ve been taught and exam boards will be providing teachers with guidance on how to most effectively assess your grades.

Advice For GCSE And A-Level Students On To Prepare

Take Lessons Seriously And Work Hard!

With eyes on you all the time, it’s never been more important to take your lessons seriously, show up on time, always pay attention and put in the work outside the classroom! With teachers being able to use the work completed within class and coursework assignments as evidence for your final grade, having a good attitude and showing your teachers that you’re working hard will be important. Teachers will have until the 18th of June to submit their assessed grades, so be aware that any work completed up until that date will be taken into consideration.

Talk To Your Teachers

Teachers can choose whatever form of assessment they think is best, but they have to provide evidence with whatever decision they make regarding your grades. It might be a good idea to have a chat with your teachers to get a better grasp of how they are deciding to grade you, so you know if there are any areas you need to focus on. In the government guidance they have said teachers can use 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

We also recommend checking out this useful infographic, which helps make all the changes easier to understand.

Prepare Seriously For Smaller Tests And Coursework

It’s likely that your teachers will be setting more in-class tests and coursework than you’re used to. Make sure you are as well prepared for these as you would be for your exams. This means revising, making notes and memorising key concepts. Your teachers may also choose to set you short assessments that are provided by the exam board, so watch out for these too. Even though they won’t take place under formal exam conditions, they will be taken into consideration when submitting your final grade in that subject.

For more revision tips and study techniques, check out some of our helpful blog posts.

Make Yourself Aware Of The Appeals Process

Results will be published much earlier in 2021 than planned, so all students have more time to appeal any grades they’re unhappy with. As this way of grading is completely new, it’s important to familiarise yourself with what’s involved in the appeals process if for any reason you’re not happy or disagree with the grade you’ve been awarded. A-Level results will be published on Tuesday the 10th of August. GCSE results will be published on Thursday the 12th of August.


For more information regarding exam changes for 2021 around the UK, please check these useful links.

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