Exams 2022: Everything you need to know about GCSE changes

Author: Megan Pitman
Published: 17/02/2022

Exam changes for 2022: a summary

 

What changes have been made to GCSE exams in 2022?

To take into account the disruption students have faced in the last two years, the DfE and Ofqual announced adaptations to the summer 2022 exams. Here are the main changes to be aware of:

  • There will be optional content for some subjects (GCSE English Literature, GCSE History and GCSE Geography). This means there will be optional topics or less content so that students have less curriculum content to revise and answer questions on. 
  • For all other subjects, exam boards are required to provide advance information about the focus of content of the exams to support students' revision. This might vary between different subjects because of how they are structured and assessed but as far as possible exam boards have made sure the approaches within a subject are the same. Advance information was made available by all exam boards on 7 February 2022.
  • The JCQ have released guidance for teachers on the use of advance information for the summer exams as well as FAQ guides for exam centres and students
  • Support materials will be made available in certain subjects. For example a formulae sheet will be available for GCSE maths exams and an equation sheet will be available for GCSE physics and combined science exams. These sheets should already be available to use in class so that students can familiarise themselves with them in advance. 
  • Teachers can deliver practical science work by demonstration if they prefer. However they can also require students to complete all or some of the practical work themselves. 

Are the changes to GCSE exams in 2022 the same for all subjects?

There are some key differences in the adaptations made for different subjects that teachers will need to be aware of. For example, the optional content only applies to specific subjects and advance information will not be made available for those subjects. 

Ofqual have created clear guidance on the subject-by-subject support for GCSE students in 2022 and we’ve summarised what you need to know for Teachit’s key subject areas.

English

GCSE English Language

  • Advance information has been provided to help students focus their revision.
  • The speaking assessment does not have to be recorded and can be conducted virtually and by a single teacher. 

GCSE English Literature

  • The exams will cover less content than usual. 
  • In the exams there will be a choice of topics on which students must answer questions. 

GCSE maths

  • Advance information has been provided to help students focus their revision.
  • A formulae sheet has been provided for teaching and learning purposes. 
  • A clean copy of the formulae sheet will be provided in the exams.

Science

GCSE biology and GCSE chemistry

  • Advance information has been provided to help students focus their revision.
  • Teachers can deliver practical work by demonstration.

GCSE physics and combined science GCSE

  • Advance information has been provided to help students focus their revision.
  • Teachers can deliver practical work by demonstration.
  • A revised equation sheet has been provided for teaching and learning purposes.
  • A clean copy of the equation sheet will be provided in the exams.

Languages

GCSE French, GCSE Spanish, GCSE German

  • Advance information has been provided to help students focus their revision.
  • There will be no requirement to use words not on the vocabulary list.

GCSE Geography

  • The exams will cover less content than usual. 
  • In the exams there will be a choice of topics on which students must answer questions.
  • Fieldwork requirements have been relaxed and there will be no questions on students' fieldwork experience.

GCSE History

  • The exams will cover less content than usual. 
  • In the exams there will be a choice of topics on which students must answer questions.

How will GCSE exams be graded in 2022?

Ofqual’s approach to grading exams this summer is to treat 2022 as a transition year, with the intention of providing a safety net for students who have experienced disruption in their education during the pandemic. Exam boards will set the grade boundaries based on a profile reflecting a midway point between 2021 and pre-pandemic grading.

What happens if the summer 2022 exams can’t go ahead?

Although the government has committed to exams going ahead in summer 2022, there are contingency plans in place in the unlikely event that exams are cancelled again due to the pandemic. If exams are cancelled in summer 2022, students’ grades would be determined by their teachers using a Teacher Assessed Grades approach. This would be similar to summer 2021 when teachers assessed their students’ work. Ofqual have provided guidance on their contingency plans and JCQ have created a detailed FAQ document to support with preparing for a scenario where exams are cancelled again.

Where can I access wellbeing support for teachers/students at revision time?

With the pressures of returning to exams for the first time since 2019, plus changes to the GCSE exams this summer, it’s likely that some students and teachers will feel stressed or anxious when it comes to preparing for and taking exams. Head to our wellbeing pages for advice and support for managing revision stress.

Preparing for the return to SATs

SATs will also be returning in 2022, with KS2 SATs taking place the week commencing 9 May 2022. The disruption caused by Covid-19 will inevitably mean many children need more time to practise and prepare. We’ve created a helpful summary of our most popular SATs resources to help get you started.

Megan Pitman

Teachit's editorial team