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GCSE & A-levels: What you need to know

Ofqual has made it clear that 2023 marks a transition back to pre-pandemic exam conditions, with results expected to reflect grades from 2019 more than those in 2022. In practical terms, this means that students sitting exams in 2023 will have statistically lower odds of getting A grades when compared to the 2022 cohort. Grade boundaries will be determined after senior examiners have reviewed the quality of the work and there is no set quota of how many students can achieve A grades.

Changes since 2022

As students sitting exams in 2023 have experienced minor disruption to their studies, compared to previous pandemic cohorts, the need for pandemic exam accommodations has lessened significantly. Ofqual has announced that there will be a return to pre-pandemic arrangements for non-exam assessment, fieldwork and practical sciences. Additionally, the full content of qualifications will be taught to students and there will be no advance information provided on the focus of exams in 2023.

In general, exam conditions in 2023 will be like those in 2019, and Ofqual encourages teachers to be aware of the issues that surround predicted grades used for UCAS applications. Universities will have the same number of places available but will be able to make more confident offers if teachers apply pre-pandemic standards to grading.

Post-Covid changes

Some pandemic accommodations have been made permanent, due to positive reception by students and schools alike. There will be a continuation of the policy of spreading out exams in the same subject, to minimise the impact of sudden illness or incapacity on a student’s grade in any one subject.

Following a consultation on GCSE Modern Foreign Languages exams, Ofqual decided that exam papers will no longer be required to use vocabulary not listed in the syllabi, which had already been implemented as a pandemic accommodation in 2022. In addition, exams can now provide a glossary for unfamiliar words, if it is deemed necessary. These provisions are expected to continue into the future.

Support will also continue to be provided in GCSE Mathematics, Physics and Combined Sciences, in the form of formulae and equation sheets. This means that students will not be expected to memorize formulae and will be able to focus their attention on studying content just before the exam. These changes will enable students to perform even better in their GCSEs than they may have done in the pre-pandemic years but should not make the exams any less useful as a gauge of academic achievement.

Important Dates in 2023

The exams will run from the 15th of May, with GCSEs wrapping up on the 21st of June, and A-Levels on the 23rd of June, with the A-level contingency date set as the 28th of June. Results will be published on the 17th of August for AS and A-levels, and the 24th of August for GCSEs.

This article is by Carfax Education, a leading education company specialising in education consultancy, private tuition, homeschooling, and guardianship. For more information, please visit


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