Frequently Asked Questions

What will assessments look like in 2021-22?

Many learners are currently studying for their GCSE, AS, A level, Welsh Baccalaureate Skills Challenge Certificate and vocational qualifications. We understand you may have some concerns as you prepare for your exams and assessments.

Here are some FAQs to provide more information about arrangements this year. There’s also information about what’s in place to support you in taking your exams and assessments.

If you can’t find the answers you’re looking for, there is more information in our Qualifications 2022 guide.

 

Arrangements for this year – Summer 2022

Will exams take place this year?

Yes. If you’re studying for GCSE, AS and A level qualifications, all exams planned to take place this summer are set to go ahead. This is also true for vocational qualifications that have exams.

Why are exams taking place this year?

Exams are the fairest way to assess learners in qualifications that have been designed to be assessed in this way.

We know that you have faced disruption to your education caused by the pandemic. Therefore, arrangements for exams and assessments are a bit different this year, to give you some extra support.

How will exams be fair this year given the disruption to education caused by Covid-19?

Exams provide the fairest approach to assessment for qualifications that were designed to be assessed by exams.

We understand that learners have faced continued disruption to learning because of the pandemic. A number of changes have been put in place this year to support learners and to recognise this lost teaching and learning time:

  • changes to the way qualifications are assessed (the adaptations) will reduce the amount of content that could be assessed in the exams
  • grading will be more generous than it was in 2019, the last time that exams were sat.

WJEC will follow processes to make sure marking is accurate and fair. We continue to work with WJEC to to agree the procedures for awarding grades this year that build upon the usual practices while providing a safety net for learners.

We want to reassure all learners in Wales that these changes have been made to make the return to a full exam season as manageable and fair as possible. 

What changes are in place this year?

We know that you have faced disruption over the past two years, so we have put changes in place to make sure you aren’t disadvantaged.

WJEC has made changes (or adaptations) to qualifications for summer 2022. The changes (or adaptations) are different for every qualification and will help you focus your time when it comes to preparing for exams. For example, a whole unit exam might have been removed, or the amount of content being assessed might be smaller, or advance information about topics in the exam has been released. This means you can concentrate on studying and revising as you prepare to get the best results you can.

Are there changes in place for vocational qualifications?

Yes. Changes have also been made for vocational qualification assessments. Your school or college will know what changes are in place for the qualifications you’re studying. If your vocational qualification is assessed by exam, these will go ahead as planned this year.

 

What is advance information?

WJEC and other awarding bodies have published advance information about the exams to help learners focus their revision. This includes letting learners know about some aspects of their exams, e.g. the content, topics and skills that will be assessed.

WJEC has not released advance information for every qualification because other changes have been made for many qualifications. For more information on specific qualifications, see WJEC’s website.

I’m studying a new Wales-only vocational qualification in Health and Social Care or Childcare. What are the arrangements for this year?

City & Guilds and WJEC have put arrangements in place for you. These arrangements help to reduce the impact of disruption to teaching and assessment caused by COVID-19.

The changes available include a reduction in the number of assessments that must be completed, verbal question and answer for the case study assessments, and remote invigilation for the on-screen multiple-choice assessment.

Full details about the changes for the new suite of Wales-only qualifications in Health and Social Care and Childcare can be found on the Health and Care Learning Wales website.

I’m studying a Health and Social Care or Childcare qualification with 'Wales' or 'Wales and Northern Ireland' in the title. What are the arrangements for this year?

The awarding bodies offering health, social care and childcare qualifications for Wales and Northern Ireland have agreed consistent changes for learners this year. You can find details here.

You can also contact your school, college or awarding body for more information.

I’m studying an ‘Essential Skills Wales’ qualification. What are the arrangements for this year?

Assessments for Essential Skills Wales will go ahead. You can find full details of the changes for the qualifications here.

If you’re unable to attend your assessment, talk to your school or college about re-scheduling.

 

Grading

Who will award my grade this year?

Over the last two years, grades have been awarded by schools and colleges. However, with the return to usual assessment arrangements, WJEC will award grades to learners this summer.  

WJEC will follow the usual processes to make sure marking is fair and consistent. WJEC will also ensure that this summer’s awarding is more generous than it was before the pandemic. At Qualifications Wales, we will monitor these processes as we usually do. For more information on how grades are awarded, watch our video guide to marking and awarding.

Will my AS level grade that was awarded in 2021 contribute towards my A level result this summer?

No, your A level grade in summer 2022 will be awarded based on the exams and assessments you complete this year. 

Before the pandemic, A levels were awarded by putting the marks achieved in all units together (including AS units). Last year, in 2021, AS level grades (not marks) were awarded by schools and colleges, as Centre Determined Grades (CDGs). There isn’t a way to convert this single grade into marks in a way that would be fair to all learners.

This year adaptations have been made to qualifications, and exams and assessments will also be graded more generously to make it as fair as possible for all learners.

Why can’t my AS level grade that was awarded in 2021 contribute towards my A level result this summer?

There isn’t a way to convert this single grade into marks in a way that would be fair to all learners. This is because for the same AS grade in a normal year, some learners would have had more marks than other learners, and some would have had fewer marks than others. Additionally, the grades awarded last year were awarded under very different circumstances, and concerns were raised around the lack of consistency of this grading process across Wales.

You announced that results would be at a broadly mid-point position between 2019 and 2021 this year – what does that actually mean?

We made this decision in October and it matches the plan in England. It means that when WJEC awards grades, the process will be more generous than it was before the pandemic.

This means that overall, national results in Wales, for each subject, will be broadly midway between the 2019 and 2021 levels. For each subject, results should be higher than they were in 2019 (the last year that learners sat formal exams) and lower than they were in 2021.

This approach provides a safety net for learners this year, to recognise the disruption they have experienced, rather than moving straight back to where results were in 2019.

Will grades be much lower this year with the return to exams?

Once exams and non-examination assessments have been marked, WJEC will award your grades. We have already announced that results in Wales will be higher than they were in 2019, when exams were last sat. For this summer, WJEC will be more generous when awarding grades to reflect the disruption to teaching and learning that you have experienced.

We are working closely with WJEC to agree the procedures for awarding grades this year that build upon the usual practices while providing a safety net for learners.

We are also working with other regulators across the UK so that the grading process is as fair as possible for everyone.

What does Qualifications Wales do about exams that some centres and learners think are too difficult?

Producing exam papers is a complex process and takes place over several stages. For more information – see Spotlight on... How are papers set?.

We monitored WJEC’s production of this summer’s exam papers and are satisfied with the processes.

Every year, learners may find some exam questions difficult and some more easy. WJEC’s mark scheme for each paper is only finalised after examiners are trained and learner responses to each question are considered – this ensures credit is given for a range of answers, where possible. Also, the demand of each paper relative to others is considered when the grade boundaries are set. We monitor the awarding process to check we are satisfied with the approach.

What does Qualifications Wales do if there is an error in an exam paper?

Producing exam papers is a complex process that takes place over several stages. For more information, see Spotlight on… How are papers set?  

We monitored WJEC’s production of this summer’s exam papers. If an actual error is found in an exam paper, then WJEC will report it to Qualifications Wales and will take measures to reduce the impact it has on learners.  As part of our regulatory role, we monitor WJEC’s response to check we are satisfied with the approach and make sure that learners are not disadvantaged by it.  

 

Back up plans

What happens if I need to isolate or can’t sit an exam this summer?

The exam timetable is designed so that if you must isolate for one of your exams, or if you are ill, there will be enough of a time gap to ensure that you would be out of isolation for the next exam. If you have taken one paper but not completed all papers for a qualification you will have your grade awarded using the result of the one paper only. If the qualification includes non-examination assessment (NEA), this will also be included.

What do I do if something affects me on the day of an exam and means that I don’t do my best in the exam, or I miss the exam?

Speak to your school or college. WJEC runs a process called special consideration. If your school or college thinks you are eligible for special consideration, they can apply for this for you. 

Are there any changes to the special consideration process this summer?

This year, the special consideration process is mostly the same as in previous years.

If you have taken one paper but not completed all papers for a qualification you will have your grade awarded using the result of the one paper only. If the qualification includes non-examination assessment (NEA), this will also be included.

If are  unable to sit one of your exams for a valid reason, then you  will be awarded a grade based on the result of the unit or units of the qualification you have completed.

Welsh Government has updated the public health guidance for learners taking exams and assessments this summer. To support learners, schools and colleges, the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) has published updated guidance on the special consideration process for this year – including dedicated guidance for schools and colleges in Wales. 

You can find more information on the special consideration process in WJEC’s learner guide.  

It’s also important to speak to your school or college about the special consideration process as well. They’ll know if you’re eligible and are best placed to offer you advice.

What happens if I miss all the units (exam papers, NEA) for a qualification?

If you have not completed any unit assessments for a qualification, then you will not be awarded a grade.  This has always been the case for qualifications in Wales and the rest of the UK.  The awarding body may be able to provide a letter of recognition, on request, to support you to progress on to other training or education.

What is in place this year to reduce the risk of learners missing all units of their qualification?

Unfortunately, in a normal exam series there are a small number of learners who miss all units, because of illness or other unavoidable circumstances. This year, the exam timetable has been created so there is at least a 10 day gap between each exam in the same qualification. This should reduce the risk of learners missing all exams due to Covid, although if a learner is very ill, this could still happen.

The changes (adaptations) made to GCSE Biology, GCSE Chemistry and GCSE Physics have reduced the assessment from 3 units to just 1 unit this summer. What if I am ill and miss the only exam for one of these GCSEs?

Since the changes put in place have reduced the assessment to just one unit, WJEC will provide an additional sitting for these qualifications. This means that learners who miss the first sitting due to illness will be able to sit a different paper later in the exam series.

Speak to your school or college to find out the date for the later sitting.

 

Arrangements for qualifications in the next academic year 2022/2023

Will the same adaptations (changes) to exams and assessments be in place in the next academic year 2022-2023?

No, the adaptations (or changes) to exams and assessments that are in place this year will not continue into  the next academic year 2022-2023. However, we recognise that the pandemic continues to cause disruption to teaching and learning, and therefore Advance Information will be released ahead of each exam series for made-for-Wales GCSE, AS and A level qualifications. This will support learners in the next academic year. Whilst the whole specification subject content should still be taught, Advance Information will give an indication of the topics, themes and content that learners can expect in their exams. Its main aim is to support learners' preparation.  

WJEC will release Advance Information for the November 2022 exam series before the end of the summer term.  Advance Information for the January 2023 exam series will be released in the autumn term. Advance Information for the summer 2023 exam series will be released in the spring term.  

These measures are transitional and signal our journey back to pre-pandemic assessment arrangements.

What are the arrangements for GCSEs, AS and A levels in the next academic year 2022-2023?

The pandemic continues to have an impact on education in Wales. Most qualifications are delivered over two years, which means that some learners have already experienced disruption as they prepare for qualifications that will be completed in the next academic year.  

We have carefully considered learners’ needs and decided to provide additional exam support into the next academic year. Advance information will be provided for made-for-Wales GCSE, AS and A level qualifications in 2022/2023. Advance information gives an indication of the topics, themes, texts or other content that learners can expect in their exams. Its main aim is to support learners' preparation.  

WJEC will release advance information for the November 2022 exam series before the end of this term.  

These measures are transitional and signal our journey back to pre-pandemic assessment arrangements.

What are the arrangements for the Skills Challenge Certificate (Welsh Baccalaureate) in the next academic year 2022-2023?

The pandemic continues to have an impact on education in Wales. The Skills Challenge Certificates are mostly delivered over two years, which means that some learners have already experienced disruption in these qualifications.  

Advance information is not possible for the Skills Challenge Certificate, so many of the current adaptations for these qualifications will continue into next year and a reduced number of challenges will be required.

These measures are transitional and signal our journey back to pre-pandemic assessment arrangements. 

What are the arrangements for vocational qualifications in the next academic year 2022-2023?

The pandemic continues to have a substantial impact on education in Wales. Most qualifications are delivered over two years, which means that some learners have already experienced disruption as they prepare for qualifications that will be completed in the next academic year.  

We anticipate that Advance Information may be appropriate for some made-for-Wales vocational qualifications, but final decisions have not been made, since care must be taken to consider the approaches being taken in England.

We will provide an update on the arrangements for vocational qualifications in the next academic year once the final decisions are confirmed.

 

Extra support

I’m nervous about taking exams this year. Where can I get more support?

Preparing for exams can sometimes create feelings of worry and stress but remember – you’re not alone. If you feel like you need extra support, with either your wellbeing or with your revision, the Keep Wales Learning Hub has lots of tips to help you prepare for your exams and look after your wellbeing.

I’m finding preparing for exams and assessments tough. Where can I find help?

The exam period can be a tough time for learners, parents and carers. We want to make sure you have access to the help you need. Visit the Help and Support section on our website for links to a range of resources and places where you can access support services.

There is also information, revision tips and well-being support available via the Power Up #KeepWalesLearning content hub. There, you can find hints, tips and resources to get you through the 2022 exam season and onto the next level of your life.  

Where can I find more information about how exams work, marking and grading?

People often ask us about how the exam system fits together, so we’ve created Exams 360 to provide an all-angles view of how it works.

Visit Exams 360 If you’d like to know:

  • Who writes my exam paper?
  • How are exam grades set?
  • What happens during marking?
  • How are exam grades set?

You’ll find all more about the exam system in Wales, plus tips and guidance for getting through your exams.

 

What else would you like to know?

Email your question to comms@qualificationswales.org