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Year 13 Exam Q & A

Covid-19 | Student

  • A levels and GCSEs will not be happening this summer
  • Please do not believe rumour and speculation
  • Mr Howarth and the team will provide information as soon as we have it, and we will tell you when and what we don’t know
  • What is not yet clear is what will replace exams, other than teacher assessed grades will be used
  • The SOS for Education has said training will be provided to schools to support and this and more information will follow
  • The algorithm used last year is not to be used: the emphasis is on teacher assessed grades, though we don’t yet know what moderation process might be applied to these grades
  • Mocks are important in diagnosing what you know, what you are doing well, and where you need to improve: this does not change
  • Mocks have not taken on a greater significance in light of today’s announcement
  • You have not yet completed your A level courses; we need to continue with teaching and learning beyond January, for courses that were due to culminate in May/June
  • The mocks alone will not determine your final grade
  • A level exams do not begin on January 20th - just mocks!
  • Mock results will give you an indication of where you are now, they will not tell you where you will be in the summer
  • Reports published following mocks will not include an LTA grade, as we don’t yet know the details of how grades will be formulated: you will receive a mock grade and written guidance on what you are doing well and areas for improvement
  • Exams provided a sense of ‘end point’ for your year in relation to which things like study leave were determined: at this point, we can’t tell you when the end of your year will be – it will not be after the end of the exam season as originally scheduled
  • Hopefully, at that point, you will be free to go travelling and send us a postcard!
  • Please do not ask your teacher what grade they think you will get: this is a natural question to want to ask, but they cannot answer and it is not fair to ask
  • You must not feel that every assessment from now on is like an A level exam; instead, everything you do makes a small contribution, in a cumulative way, to the overall picture. This is also true of mocks
  • We hope to be in school on Monday 11th - if our return is delayed, we will run mocks as planned if possible. If necessary, we will postpone mocks
  • Remember, whatever happens, you will need the knowledge, skills, and discipline you will acquire through the rest of your A level studies in the future
  • You are resilient

Question: If we are not happy with summer exams, will there be a chance to challenge the grade or to sit exam?

Answer: We don’t know yet. This year, students were able to sit an exam in November; a number of our students did this, and they enjoyed excellent outcomes. There may be a similar opportunity this year. Last year, you could not appeal your grade, but there were clear grounds for appealing the process by which the grade was awarded.

Question: If we are yet to finalise university choices, should we wait for information on how grades will be determined?

Answer: As usual, we would advise waiting until after mocks to determine firm and insurance choices: remember to discuss these, first, with Mrs Spiteri or Mr Milner. If you have not yet applied, please go ahead and follow the usual UCAS process. UCAS have extended their deadline and have emailed this information to all applicants. Don’t feel you need to delay.

Question: Is there any chance the school will conduct end of year exams?

Answer: We don’t yet know when your end of year will be. We need to be aware of the national picture, with the UK in lockdown and the possibility of extended school closure: the national system will need to be fair for all students. We might be asked to put in an assessment later in the year. We will not do anything not required by national guidance that might disadvantage you. We want to give you the best and fairest chance to get the grade you deserve. We will follow all Ofqual guidance very carefully.

Question: Once we know how grades will be given, will we be able to talk to our teachers about where we are and what we need to do to improve?

Answer: You must always consult your teachers about how to make progress. However, if the system is the same as last year, we will not be allowed to share your teacher/centre assessed graded with you. Conversations about how to improve and make progress will follow mocks; this is just as it would be in any year. Students who engage in this kind of dialogue about their learning tend to do better, and you have a term left of learning to do. Your mocks are not an end of course assessment. 

Question: Could our A level predicted grades (UCAS) be used as part of your teacher assessed grade?

Answer: These grades are an evidence-based reflection of the trajectory your teachers think you were on; UCAS grades are not given unless teachers think you could achieve this.

Question: Will Alps be used to help formulate the grades?

Answer: Yes – all relevant pieces of information about your prior attainment and academic trajectory, in accordance with whatever guidance we receive. Remember, no one piece of evidence (e.g. a ‘bad day’ mock result) will drown out all the other data.

Question: Will new content be taught or set as homework before mocks?

Answer: All learning between now and mocks should be revision-focused and based on content already covered. Everything you do in lessons and for homework over the next couple of weeks will be focused on mocks.

Question: Will mocks be spread out over a longer period of time?

Answer: No. The mock timetable you’ve all been preparing for stands. Mocks have not taken on any greater significance, so there is no good reason to change the approach.

Question: What if I can’t attend a mock, because I am ill or self-isolating?

Answer: We will follow the usual procedure, and reschedule exams for you as part of a bespoke arrangement.