Autumn GCSE exam entries drop two thirds

Exams organised for pupils unhappy with teacher-assessed grades receive just 5,700 entries

Exams organised for pupils unhappy with teacher-assessed grades receive just 5,700 entries


The number of entries to autumn GCSE exams organised for pupils unhappy with grades issued during the pandemic dropped by two thirds this year.

Ofqual reported today that just 5,700 provisional entries have been received for GCSE exams in all subjects except English language and maths this term. There were 18,450 for the same series last year.

It comes after the proportion of top grades awarded at GCSE increased by 11 per cent this year, following the switch to teacher-assessed grades.

It is the second year that a special autumn exam series has been held, following the cancellation of summer exams. Resits for English and maths take place every year.

Pupils who disputed centre-assessed grades in 20202 and teacher-assessed grades this year were allowed to enter in order to have the chance to prove themselves in an exam.

The number of autumn GCSE entries this year represents 0.2 per cent of the total entries in the summer exam series this year.

Three in five autumn GCSE entries this year were for year 12 pupils. Most candidates were 16 at the end of the last academic year.

The subjects with the highest numbers of candidates entering were English literature, other modern languages and combined science.

English and maths entries drop 13%

Ofqual has also published data on provisional entries to GCSE English language and maths exams for November 2021, which shows entries dropped by 13 per cent compared to 2020.

These exams are usually only for pupils over 16 re-sitting those subjects, as they are required to do if they did not achieve a grade 4 at the end of year 11.

But in 2020 and 2021, the exams were opened up to all students entered in the summer, including younger students, who wanted to sit them.

Total entries to GCSE English and maths dropped from 131,300 in 2020 to 114,040 this year, taking the number of entries back towards 2019 levels (109,495).

The decrease in entries was slightly larger in English – 15 per cent – than for maths, which saw a 12 per cent drop.

Entries by year 12 pupils increased slightly, while entries from year 13s and above fell back to similar levels as those seen in 2018 and 2019.

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