Exams

Only use exam board websites to access advance information, schools told

Boards are trying to prevent misinformation spreading online

Boards are trying to prevent misinformation spreading online



Schools and their pupils should only access advance information about exam topics on official websites, exam boards have said, amid fears misinformation could spread online.

Exam boards are due to publish advance information for most GCSE and A-level topics throughout today (see links below). It is one of several mitigations aimed at helping students in the first exam year since the pandemic began.

But the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), which represents exam boards, has urged people to only access the content on the relevant board’s website for their subject, “to minimise any chance of misinformation”.

Ministers have repeatedly insisted that exams will go ahead as planned this summer, with certain adaptations proposed including more generous grading.

Today’s information is aimed at helping students focus their revision ahead of the summer exams series. It is being made available for most subjects, including maths, biology, chemistry and languages.

A “common set of principles” has been developed for the information. For example, they will avoid providing so much detail that answers could be “pre-prepared and memorised”.

But the information will look different for each subject and exam board to reflect “the nature of those subjects and their assessments”.

advance information
Ofqual’s ‘jigsaw’ on exam adaptations

Sarah Hannafin, senior policy advisor at schools leaders’ union NAHT, said the information is “new to teachers” so it will “only be over the coming days that we learn whether they believe it will be sufficient to counter the levels of disruption which students have faced due to Covid”.

Other adaptations include a choice of topics in some GCSEs like English literature and history and support materials like formulae sheets in maths.

The DfE said that because about 500,000 exams took place as planned in January for vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs), this would give “confidence” in the exams system.

Ministers were urged last month to review their exams plan amid Covid disruption, but government has said they will proceed as planned.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “Exams are the best and fairest form of assessment, and we firmly intend for them to take place this summer, giving students a fair chance to show what they know.”

Ofqual chief regulator Dr Jo Saxton said last month that they would research the impact of advance information to inform “future years”.

For the OCR advance information portal, click here.

For AQA, click here.

And for Pearson EdExcel, click here.



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  1. Adam Minors

    The AQA GCSE Maths information is a disgrace. One word hints such as ‘circle’ and ‘regular’. Couldn’t be bothered to write full sentences. How is it fair that the other 2 main boards have produced something much better and user-friendly? My bottom set 11s stand no chance of using it. They won’t understand it. No wonder teachers will start looking elsewhere…