EXAMS TO GO AHEAD AS PLANNED- Message from Cambridge

19th February 2021

2021 has brought progress in the fight against Covid-19, but it remains a tough and uncertain time for teachers, students and parents. Teaching and learning have been a huge challenge and we continue to be awed by how dedicated, resilient and resourceful our school communities have been.

We are listening closely to your views, so we can work out how best to support you, wherever you are in the world. We work in 160 countries, with schools in different situations and facing different challenges to each other. We continue to plan for exams to go ahead in June 2021 where it is permitted and safe. At the same time, schools want us to help them manage the impact of the pandemic on teaching and learning. That is why we have set up many extra measures this year to support schools and students with exams.

Schools can ask for adjustments to aspects of assessments, and exemptions from many components that the pandemic makes harder to run. For 2021, we’re also expanding our special considerations process for students who for good reason miss some components they were entered for. As long as these students have taken at least one assessment component, they can receive a grade. This is a temporary measure in response to the pandemic. We will say more about this next week.

We’ve introduced new guidance for schools on how to hold exams safely, and used it for the first time in November 2020, when schools in over 130 countries ran our exams, our largest ever November series. Our March 2021 series starts soon. We are working with our regional teams worldwide to monitor the ongoing situation. We will update schools immediately if it becomes clear that exams cannot go ahead in their country or region and we need to switch to an approach based on teacher assessment in their country or region.

In setting exam standards, we take very seriously our responsibility to make sure students are assessed fairly and can progress with their education. Exams offer consistent, reliable and fair measurement of attainment, and we have highly effective processes for managing standards in the grades from exams.

We will manage standards in 2021 with the aim of ensuring that grades are comparable whichever route a student takes. Our Global Recognitions team is working with universities in all regions so that they understand our approach for 2021 and can make informed admission and credit decisions.