Coronavirus FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions following the closure of schools and the cancellation of the summer exams.

Due to the complexity and fast-changing nature of the situation, these are updated regularly. Bookmark this page, and if you have any questions not covered here please email comms@qualificationswales.org and we will try to answer them.

What is happening with summer examinations this year?

Welsh Government announced that schools would be closed after 20 March and therefore the summer exams could not take place, Learners due to sit their GCSEs and A levels this summer will be awarded a fair grade to recognise their work. Normal arrangements for reporting of Key Stage 4 and post-16 performance measures will be suspended for this year. 

How will the decision to cancel summer examinations impact me?

The priority is ensuring fairness for learners while following public health advice. Grades for GCSE and A level qualifications in 2020 will be calculated using a range of evidence. In determining how we proceed, the focus will be on what is in the best interests of learners both in terms of their current well-being and their progress to work, education or training.

What will happen about practical exams?

Since schools are now closed to most students, it is not possible for practical work to be completed. Practical work completed previously by students could be part of the assessment information that teachers can take into account in producing their teacher assessment grade for each student.

Will we have to sit the exams in the autumn when schools return?

It is not our intention for learners in Wales to sit their GCSEs and A levels when schools return in the autumn. Instead they will be awarded a fair grade to recognise their work.

Will you just be using mock exams or teacher predictions to set grades?

No, not in isolation. Grades for GCSE and A level qualifications in 2020 will be calculated using a range of evidence. They will be based on a combination of factors which may include marks for work completed to date, for example AS results for A level grades, and standardised teacher assessment grades. Teacher assessment grades will be based on what teachers would expect a learner to achieve at the end of the course. They need to represent a fair, reasonable and carefully considered judgement of the most likely grade that might be achieved in normal circumstances. This is a professional judgement based on the combined assessment information held for that learner and will be a holistic judgement rather than focusing on a single source of evidence like mock examinations. 

How will AS levels be affected?

This year all AS learners will receive an estimated AS grade and there will be no AS exams until summer 2021. The estimate will be based on a range of evidence, including teacher assessment grades, and will not contribute to A level results in 2021. 

In summer 2021, AS learners will have two options for their A level award. They can either choose to only sit the A2 units, with the A level grade awarded solely on their performance in those units, or they can choose to sit AS and A2 units.  If they choose to sit the AS units alongside the A2 units they will be awarded the best grade from either route – either the grade awarded from performance on the A2 units alone or the grade awarded from combining both AS and A2 units. 

What will happen for learners in Year 10?

Year 10 learners who were due to sit exams that would have led to a whole GCSE qualification this summer will be issued a grade following the same process as Year 11 learners. Teacher assessment grades and other evidence will be used to calculate a grade.  

Year 10 learners who were due to sit units only, that is units that will lead to GCSE results next summer, will not receive estimated results. For those learners, there will be two options. They can choose to sit the units they plan to take in in summer 2021, with their overall GCSE grade calculated on the basis of that performance only.  

Alternatively, they can choose to sit the Year 10 units in summer 2021, along with Year 11 exams. Whichever option a learner chooses, they will be awarded the best grade from either route  

Will results still be published in August?

We have noted the UK Government’s announcement that learners in England will receive their grades by the end of July. We are working closely with other UK regulators and an important part of our work to co-ordinate activities will be to agree the dates when results will be released. We are also working closely with UCAS, Universities Wales and other key stakeholders. Our main objective is to ensure that no learners are disadvantaged during these unprecedented times.

Can I challenge the grade awarded to me, and how do I do that?

There will be no review of marking in the normal way, and we are still discussing what, if any, appeal process could be adopted.

What will the decision to cancel exams mean for university admissions?

Through UCAS, Universities Wales and HEFCW, the Welsh Government and partners remain in close communication with Universities. Officials are working with the UK Government to ensure a consistent approach to key issues including admissions to Universities for the next academic year.

Universities are committed to doing all they can to support students and applicants and ensure they can progress to university. This will involve being flexible and responsive in their admissions processes.  Students who have applied to university, or are thinking of doing so through clearing, can be assured that every effort will be made to ensure they are not disadvantaged in any way by the decision not to go ahead with exams this summer.