If you have been keeping up-to-date with the headlines, then you may think that GCSE and A-level summer 2021 exams have been cancelled, right? But, the reality is – it’s not that simple! Yes, exam hall exams are cancelled, but end of year, summer exams have not been cancelled. Instead, they are being replaced with teacher assessments.

What does this mean for your child?

Teachers are able to take advice from exam boards on what assessments might look, but ultimately it will be the teachers’ decision. Why? They know what their students have covered during the pandemic; they know their students personally and so know how much learning has been disrupted. They can then ensure that the assessments are adjusted with that in mind, while still ensuring that their students are rigorously tested, so they are able to move on in their careers – academic and professional – without being at a disadvantage. After-all, we want students to be tested fairly, not sit ‘easier’ exams, as it will not benefit them in the long-term.

So, what does that mean for your child?

It means that it is even more crucial that your child keeps up with their school work. Perhaps even more important is that your child does not just learn what is required of them, but deepens their understanding, so that they are able to apply their knowledge to wider contexts. Why? It is, in some ways unfortunate, that students’ past papers will not necessarily be as helpful as they were for previous years. This is because their exams will be different. Now, it is, on the one hand, a shame in that exam technique is important, and going through papers is beneficial in assisting students in mastering time management under pressure; understanding the questioning format of exams, and knowing how to answer the questions. However, on the other hand, it is highly beneficial for students because it means that their understanding of what they have learnt is perhaps deeper, since they will be using it unfamiliar contexts.

So, how can your child prepare?

Well, teacher assessments can take many forms. They may adapt the exam boards paper to ensure it fairly showcases their students’ capabilities. Or, they might have controlled assessments. Controlled assessments already exist – they were established to replace coursework. What it looks is this:

To prepare then, your child needs to complete assignments as best they can and in the way they are set. If they are unclear, they need to notify their teachers, so the teacher is aware. It would also be useful going through the GCSE syllabus and mark scheme for their subjects, so they know what is expected of them. This is because teachers will want to ensure that students are meeting most of the criteria because it will serve their students in the long-term.

Overall

Overall then, it is not strictly true that exams are cancelled. It is therefore important to remind your child of this, as they may have become demotivated by the prospect of the exams being cancelled. Once your child has accepted this, they may become anxious and overwhelmed because not only will they face the normal uncertainty that comes with exams, but they will have the added unknown of the style of the paper, questions and assessment. Reassure them that the teachers will be working with the exam boards to ensure that any exam is reflective of the disruption caused by the pandemic, and that they will be aiming to ensure that the GCSE criteria for each subject is met, so that they can progress in their academic and professional career.