AS and A levels
We know you have many questions about how these qualifications will be assessed in the absence of exams. We’ve produced two graphics explaining the process and a series of FAQs. These Q&As will provide answers to many of the questions you have, and we will add to them as the situation progresses.
What is happening with summer exam 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 AS and A levels this summer will be awarded a fair grade to recognise their work. Normal arrangements for reporting 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 AS and A level qualifications in summer 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 about practical exams?
Due to the closure of schools, it has not been possible for all practical work to be completed. Practical work completed previously by learners could be part of the assessment information that teachers can consider in producing their centre assessment grade for each learner.
Will we have to sit the exams in the autumn?
It is not our intention for learners in Wales to sit their AS or A levels in the autumn. Instead they will be awarded a fair grade to recognise their work.
How will grades be calculated?
Grades for AS and A level qualifications in summer 2020 will be calculated using a range of evidence and a statistical standardisation model. They will be based on a combination of factors which may include marks for work completed to date (for example, AS results will be used to support the calculation of A level grades), and centre assessment grades. Centre assessment grades will be based on what teachers would expect a learner to achieve at the end of the course if they had sat the exams. 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 holistic, rather than focusing on a single piece of evidence, like mock examinations. More information can be found here.
What is a statistical standardisation model?
Standardisation will calculate grades that are, overall, broadly similar to grades awarded in other years. The approach will use the best combination of evidence available in these extraordinary circumstances. There are two main steps to standardisation:
Step 1: Calculate grades for learners in each centre. WJEC will calculate a set of grades for each exam centre, such as a school
Step 2: Allocate grades to individual learners. WJEC will allocate the set of grades from step 1 to individual learners using the rank order provided by the teachers in the centre
For more information on understanding how grades will be arrived at, read our blog here.
How will AS levels be affected?
This year all AS learners will receive a calculated AS grade. The calculated grade will be based on a range of evidence, including centre assessment grades, and will not contribute to A level results in 2021.
Why can’t the AS grades I receive this summer be used as part of my full A level next summer?
The calculated grade issued to AS learners this summer will enable them to progress onto other pathways, as necessary. That might be other training, or employment, or to another school or college.
If a learner is carrying on to the full A level in summer 2021, the calculated grade from this summer cannot be used because it will be a grade and not a mark. Usually marks from each AS unit are aggregated in the calculation of the final A level grade.
It would not have been reasonable to ask centres to provide actual marks for learners this summer, so we had to consider other ways of awarding the A level in summer 2021.
A learner will have two options:
Option 1: Actual performance in the A2 units in summer 2021 will be used to calculate the marks that would most likely have been achieved in the AS units. There is a clear statistical relationship between performance in different units and in normal circumstances this is the method used to award a grade if a learner has been unable to sit a unit assessment due to illness. So, it is an established method.
Option 2: Learners would normally have the option to take AS units alongside A2 units, and we don’t want to prevent next summer’s A level learners from having that option. If they do decide to take the AS and A2 units, then the UMS marks will be aggregated in the normal way. As a safeguard, if a learner chooses to take AS and A2 units together, then a comparison will be made with the grade they would have been awarded via the other route and the best grade will be awarded.
Our Chief Executive has provided a blog on this, which can be found here.
Will results still be published in August?
Yes, AS and A level results will be published on 13 August.
Can I challenge the grade awarded to me, and how do I do that?
Centres can appeal to WJEC on behalf of the learner, which is the same as in previous years. Learners can ask their centre to check whether they made an error when they submitted their centre assessment data. In certain circumstances, private candidates will be able to appeal directly to WJEC.
Centres will be able to appeal to WJEC on the grounds that;
- they used the wrong data when calculating a grade
- the calculated grades generated by the statistical standardisation model were incorrectly allocated or communicated
- there was some other procedural failing on the part of WJEC
You can find more information on appeals and our consultation into summer exam series 2020, see here.
This graphic will explain the appeals process for summer 2020 exams.
Appeal process Summer 2020
I’m a private candidate – how will I get my result?
Where centres have accepted entries from private candidates – learners who might be home-schooled, following distance-learning programmes or studying independently – they should be included in the centre’s submission of data, as long as the Head of Centre is confident that they and their staff have seen sufficient evidence of the learner’s achievement to make an objective judgement. However, there may be cases where centres will not be able to make a judgement on the achievements of a private candidate.
As part of our consultation into the summer exam series 2020, we considered whether there are methods by which it may be possible to award grades to private candidates who have sat some of the qualification in earlier series.
We concluded that we should allow grades to be calculated for those private candidates who have sat some of the qualification in an earlier series, but for whom their entering centre is not willing, or confident enough, to enter a centre assessment grade and rank order this summer. A similar method to that used when learners are unable to sit all exams due to illness or other exceptional reasons will be used. This method will only apply to private candidates who;
- are clearly identifiable as a private candidate
- have no centre assessment data submitted for them
- have an approved entry for the relevant qualifications made on or before 21 February 2020
- have completed relevant sections of the qualification
How will my centre inform the awarding body of our centre assessment grades and rank order?
Awarding bodies have issued guidance to centres on how to enter their Centre Assessment Grades and Rank Order. Systems went live on Monday 1st June, and can be accessed through awarding bodies secure websites.
Can schools and colleges consider evidence from specialist teachers or other professionals when making grading and rank ordering decisions?
WJEC have provided further guidance on validation of evidence by centres and students with special educational needs and/or disabilities here.
Will the loss of current teaching time be taken into account for learners working towards GCEs in summer 2021?
WJEC have made appropriate adaptations to GCEs due to be awarded in summer 2021. This has not been a simple process since no single adaptation suits all qualifications, and therefore, each qualification has had to be considered on an individual basis. Generally, the adaptations either support compliance with potential social distancing requirements or streamline assessment to allow more flexibility. The aim of introducing these adaptations is to ease the assessment arrangements for learners and centres, whilst retaining reliable, valid and credible qualifications.
Am I able to appeal my grade?