OCR is to launch the first GCSE to be assessed solely on screen in 2025, as the sector starts its move towards digital exams.
The exam board said pupils sitting its GCSE in computer science will be able to sit digital rather than paper-based exams to “allow for more authentic assessment” of their programming skills.
Although schools will still be able to opt for paper-based assessment if they “prefer that approach” or do not have the digital infrastructure in place, OCR said.
Exams regulator Ofqual is currently undertaking a feasibility study alongside the government on “what it would take” to make GCSE and A-level exams “fully digital”.
Research by England’s largest exam board, AQA, last year found teachers’ biggest barrier to digital exams was a lack of infrastructure.
But AQA has already set out a timetable to move some its exams on-screen, with a large-entry subject like English going digital by 2030.
Digital exams ‘closer to real industry’, says OCR
OCR’s announcement follows a pilot of digital mock exams in schools in 2021 and 2022, which found 92 per cent of students preferred typing over hand-written responses, while students performed similarly to those who took live assessments.
The exam board said it would look to digitise GCSEs for other subjects.
Chief executive Jill Duffy added: “Students want to sit their exams in the way that they learn. Digital exams are far closer to real industry and further study experiences.
“Our pilot has shown that digital exams work. Now we have to move at pace to ensure every student can benefit from the opportunities of digital assessment.”
OCR said that in a focus group of around 100 teachers this autumn, eight out of 10 said they felt their school or college would be “ready to deliver” digital assessments within the next two years.
The computing exam changes come after OCR admitted last year’s controversial paper was “more difficult” than usual, although top grades remained higher than pre-Covid levels after boundaries were lowered.