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Candidates in a country or region where exams cannot go ahead in June 2021 will receive school-assessed grades for Cambridge International AS Level. For these candidates, the ‘A2-only’ route to A Level will be available in the November 2021, March 2022 and June 2022 series, so that candidates can progress with their A Level qualifications. There is information about the A2-only route above ‘Background to the A2-only route’. The A2-only route is not available to candidates with AS Level exam marks from the June 2021 series. www.cambridgeinternational.org/covid/june-2020-exam-series/carrying-forward-marks-to-a-future-series
Where a candidate is entered for the full A Level, it is more important that there is enough evidence of the candidate operating at the A2 level. We will tell you more about how the pieces of work in a candidate’s portfolio should be used in the determination of a school-assessed grade as soon as we are able.
Following feedback from centres, we have now reviewed our requirements for the evidence portfolio for Cambridge International AS & A Level syllabuses. The revised requirements mean:
If your candidates are taking the staged route carry forward option and already have their Cambridge International AS Level result from a previous series, all three pieces of evidence in the portfolio must be A2 evidence. These candidates only ever planned to take their A2 components in the June 2021 series. In due course, we will provide more information about how to combine your three pieces of evidence and how this relates to the AS Level result your candidates already have.
If your candidates already have their Cambridge International AS Level result from a previous series but were planning to retake the AS Level components in June 2021 as well as taking the A2 components, one of the pieces of evidence can be for AS Level. The other two pieces must be A2, and if you plan to include only one past paper as part of the three pieces of evidence, the past paper must be for an A2 component.
If your candidates are taking the linear route, where they are entered for all the Cambridge International AS & A Level components together and for the first time in June 2021, one of the pieces of evidence can be for AS Level. The other two pieces must be A2, and if you plan to include only one past paper as part of the three pieces of evidence, the past paper must be for an A2 component.
If you are not able to cover the practical assessment objectives because your school was under restrictions preventing candidates' access to the facilities needed for practical work, or circumstances in which social distancing regulations prevented group work, it is acceptable for the evidence portfolio not to include those practical assessment objectives. You should explain this in the Rationale Document referred to in the 'Collecting evidence to support school-assessed grades' factsheet (PDF, 168KB).
If your school is in a country or region that we have switched to using school-assessed grades for June 2021, you no longer need to:
However there are some tasks which you must still carry out:
Can a centre choose different pieces of work for different students based on their achievements per syllabus or does a centre have to use the same pieces of work set for each student in the syllabus?
The types of work to be included among the three pieces of work are at your discretion and you can therefore use different pieces of work for each candidate's portfolio.
Does the hour's worth of work need to be completed all at once?
Candidates may complete the hour's work in more than one sitting if lessons in your school last less than an hour, provided that you are still able to authenticate the candidates' work.
Where a syllabus has fewer than three components, can we include one completed past paper for one component and two completed past papers for the other component to make up the three pieces of evidence?
Using three completed past papers meets the requirements of the evidence portfolio. However, you can also use a teacher-set task or one of the other types of task listed on the 'Collecting evidence to support school-assessed grades' fact sheet (PDF, 168KB). There is no requirement for all the pieces of evidence to be past papers.
Is it acceptable to submit raw scores rather than candidates' actual work as evidence?
The evidence contained in the portfolio must show the candidates' actual work; it is not acceptable to submit raw scores without the work itself.
Can we use an average score from topic tests as one of the three sources of evidence?
You can submit a group of topic tests to form a piece of evidence. However, the evidence contained in the portfolio must show the candidates' actual work; it is not acceptable to submit raw scores without the work itself.
Where the tasks on an exam paper take an hour each to complete, does the whole paper count as one piece of evidence or can each task count as a separate piece of evidence?
We strongly recommend that at least one of the pieces of work is a complete past paper dating back to before June 2020. For the remaining pieces of evidence, it is acceptable to set a task from a past paper that takes an hour for the candidates to complete.
Can a class or homework assignment be used instead of an assessment?
Yes, candidates can complete class or homework assignments to be submitted in the evidence portfolio, providing the assignments meet the requirements set out in the 'Collecting evidence to support school-assessed grades' fact sheet (PDF, 168KB). You must be able to authenticate the work.
Can assessments be invigilated via Teams?
You can invigilate candidates completing assessments remotely, providing you use video call technology that enables you to authenticate the candidates' work. You must be able to see all candidates throughout the duration of the test.
Can we submit two or more smaller tasks that, combined, constitute one substantial piece admissible as evidence?
By substantial, we mean a piece of work that has taken the candidate at least one hour of concentrated work to complete. It is acceptable if you set two or more smaller tasks to create a substantial piece of work completed in one hour.
If the minimum amount of time a candidate needs to spend on a piece of evidence is an hour, is it acceptable to set a 30 minute question and give candidates an hour to complete it?
By substantial, we mean a piece of work that has taken the candidate at least one hour of concentrated work to complete. If the candidate has not needed to concentrate fully for an hour to complete the work, then it does not meet the requirement. As an alternative, you could set two 30 minute questions instead to create a substantial piece of work completed in one hour.
Please could you clarify about pupils not knowing the topic of an assessment. Surely they have to know the overall topic they are being assessed on (i.e. Coasts / Hazards) so do you just mean they should not know the specific questions beforehand. These are not supposed to be exams because exams have been cancelled. They are pupil assessments.
You may share the broad topics that the assessment will cover with candidates. However, candidates should not know specific questions in advance.
Can we adapt past papers to fit the requirement of one hour minimum and the content covered by our candidates?
Yes, you can adapt past papers to fit the requirement of one hour minimum of concentrated work and the syllabus content covered by your candidates.
For past papers or specimen papers for which there are no grade thresholds, can we use the grade thresholds of a previous exam series?
You cannot use the grade thresholds from past papers to mark past papers or specimen papers for which there are no grade thresholds because grade thresholds are only set after a question paper has been sat and marked; they apply to that specific paper only. However, you can use them as a guide. Thresholds are likely to change year-on-year. This is because, during the grading process where we determine grade thresholds for a components and options, we look at a range of centre information, such as the difficulty of the question paper and the performance of different cohorts of candidates, to help us to decide where to set the grade thresholds to ensure that the standard of a qualification is maintained from one year to another.
How can candidates complete a past paper if they have not covered all the syllabus content?
We strongly recommend that at least one of the pieces of work is a complete past paper dating back to before June 2020 because these robust assessments, mark schemes and grade thresholds will be helpful in the next stage of the process, where schools determine an overall syllabus grade using the portfolio of evidence.
However, if your students have not covered sufficient content to meet the demands of a complete past paper you can replace questions, where needed, with those selected from other past papers that are appropriate to the content your students have covered. You must explain this in your Rationale Document.
March 2021 papers available on the School Support Hub
To provide additional support teachers for syllabuses with new content, we will publish question papers for some of the syllabuses from our March 2021 exam series on the School Support Hub by 16 April. These syllabuses are:
This will give you the option to use these papers with your learners should you wish to. The mark schemes and grade thresholds for these syllabuses, as well as question papers and mark schemes for all other March series syllabuses, will be available from 25 May.
Our candidates have seen all the papers available for this syllabus. Can we still use these papers as part of our evidence?
We know past papers are widely available online and that your candidates may have seen the papers before. Providing the candidates do not know in advance the content of the specific paper you set them and that you can authenticate the candidates’ work, you may still use these past papers.
There are more past papers available for the Cambridge IGCSE version of this syllabus than there are for the Cambridge IGCSE 9-1 version. Can we use past papers from the alternative grade set version?
Yes, you can use past papers for the IGCSE version of the syllabus if your candidates are entered for the IGCSE 9-1 version. Although these papers are acceptable as a piece of evidence, you should note that the grade thresholds available will only be for the A*-G grade set which do not correlate directly with the 9-1 grade set for all grades. For this reason, we advise that candidates should sit a complete past paper for the correct grade set that can be marked against the published gradethresholds for the paper as one of their pieces of evidence.
What do you mean by a completed past paper?
Each syllabus is divided into components. We refer to the written exam a candidate completes for a component that is externally assessed by us as a paper. A single completed past paper counts as one piece of evidence. Using three completed past papers meets the requirements of the evidence portfolio. However, there is no requirement for all the pieces of evidence to be past papers.
Where the syllabus is new for 2021, or has significant changes, what past papers do we use? Although you strongly advise we use ones from before June 2020, we have only one specimen paper available.
However, we are aware that for some new syllabuses, complete past papers dating back to before June 2020 do not exist and it is acceptable to use June or November 2020 papers, or specimen papers, in these circumstances. We realise there are fewer published materials available for new syllabuses. However, you can also create your own tasks and assignments based on the specimen papers. Please refer to the section 'Types of evidence' in the 'Collecting evidence to support schools' fact sheet (PDF, 168KB).
Can we use partial coursework, in line with the requirement for component adjustments?
Providing the work produced is substantial, we can accept coursework that is not complete where this is because schools were ordered to close, preventing access to the facilities needed for practical work, or circumstances in which social distancing regulations prevented group work. You should explain this in the Rationale Document.
If a piece of coursework is made up of two tasks, does this count as two pieces of evidence if they each took longer than an hour to complete, or does this count as one piece of evidence?
If you want to mark and grade the coursework using the published mark scheme and grade thresholds, you will need to submit the entire coursework as one piece of evidence. However, this is not compulsory. You can instead submit the individual tasks within the coursework component as separate pieces of evidence, providing they took candidates at least one hour to complete. If you do this you will need to approach the marking and grading of these pieces of work differently. Please refer to our Guidance for deciding school-assessed grades (PDF, 371KB) document for more information.
If the syllabus has a coursework component, does the coursework have to make up one of the pieces of evidence?
No, you do not have to include the coursework component, providing the evidence portfolio covers as broad a range as possible of the assessment objectives and content of the syllabus. However, it is recommended that the coursework component is included.
If we are submitting partial coursework in line with the requirements for component adjustments, what allowances should we make for the adjustment?
We will tell you more about how the pieces of work in a candidate’s portfolio should be used in the determination of a school-assessed grade as soon as we are able.
If you are following the school-assessed grades route, and your candidates will not be sitting exams, you must still follow the regulations in sections 4.3 and 4.4 of the Cambridge Handbook for receiving and storing confidential exam materials. If you receive any confidential exam materials from us, you must not open the materials and you must keep them in your secure storage until 72 hours after the Key Time for the exam.
For any exams where you would normally download confidential materials from Digital File Despatch or the School Support Hub, you may still receive an email from us at the Key Time for a particular exam. If you are not running exams then you must not download or print any materials, such as ICT source files. If you or anyone else in your centre mistakenly downloads or prints confidential materials that you do not need because you are not running exams, you must follow the regulations in sections 4.3.1 and 4.4 of the Cambridge Handbook.
We have discussed our approach with other boards working internationally, and kept in touch with the development of the approach used by UK boards for schools in England. Ofqual refer to school-assessed grades as 'teacher-assessed grades' or TAGs.
Where we have been able to adopt a similar approach, we have done so. However, other exam boards either operate their exams in a different way, or have a very different community of schools to us, so identical processes would not have worked.
Both the processes will award grades through teacher judgement based on student work. Our approach is designed to be as clear to schools as possible, prescriptive where we believe this to be necessary, and appropriate to the wide range of schools that we work with.
We are very aware that the situation worldwide is continuously changing, and we are constantly in consultation with schools and our regional teams where directives from national or local government. If we decide to move your region or country to school-assessed grades, we will contact you directly via email (or via your local Cambridge International representative). Schools are not able to choose whether or not they switch to school-assessed grades.
Exams are not going ahead and schools will determine school-assessed grades for their students. You do not have to produce forecast grades for your students. School-assessed grades are different to forecast grades and you can read all the guidance for determining these on our website. We are adding more information to this guidance over the next few weeks.
There will be an external quality assurance process carried out by Cambridge. We will share further details about this in due course.
Candidates should not know the content of a mock exam in advance. However, we expect that in most schools, teachers will be involved in selecting the materials they wish to use for the mock exam.
You should take measures that you feel are appropriate to make sure you can authenticate each candidate's work. Candidates should not know the content of a mock exam in advance. You may want to redact information about which specific paper you are using to ensure this. You can also use a different version of the paper for individual candidates or groups of candidates - the work selected for each candidate does not need to be the same.
Please keep the Rationale Document you use to set grades. We will ask to see it alongside portfolios of student evidence as part of our Quality Assurance process.
Students doing past papers, mock exams and work made up of questions from past papers should, as far as possible, be given the appropriate access arrangements (such as extra time or enlarged copies of the paper). It is not necessary for schools to apply to Cambridge International for these access arrangements. Please continue to keep records showing students’ need for access arrangements. We will ask you to provide details of the access arrangements that you have used in the Rationale Document.
For schools using the school-assessed grades route, the normal system of special considerations do not apply. While we strongly recommend that at least one piece of evidence is a complete past paper, schools can also use a range of other evidence if necessary. If a candidate has been unable to take a planned assessment that you were intending to use as one of their pieces of evidence, then you should replace this with a different piece of evidence. You do not need to use the same pieces of work in for each student in the same syllabus.
Depending on when you are notified that your country or region is doing school assessed grades we may have sent some confidential material to you. You cannot use this material to produce evidence for the portfolio. It is live exam material and can only be used by schools sitting exams.
We will not provide additional secure materials for you to use. There is not time to produce the high-quality materials you would want, and the materials we prepared for the June 2021 series are needed for the majority of our candidates who are taking examinations.
Using benchmark centres is part of our internal process for maintaining the awarding standard in every series, not just the June 2021 series. Benchmark centres are schools with large and stable numbers of entries. For the June 2021 series, these benchmark centres will be schools from across all of the countries that are taking the school-assessed grades route, and they will be considered together as a whole. The school-assessed grades submitted to us by benchmark centres will be treated in exactly the same way as grades from all other centres. Benchmark schools do not need to do anything different or provide us with any additional information simply because they are benchmark centres, and we will not be telling centres whether they are a benchmark centre. However, benchmark centres may, as with all other centres, be asked to provide candidate work and their Rationale Document, if they are contacted as part of our external quality assurance process.
If you are not able to collect sufficient evidence, or if the evidence does not meet the performance standard required for a grade, you should consider withdrawing the candidate and entering them in a future series. Alternatively, you should award this candidate a U (Ungraded).
Please do not submit any work to us unless we ask you to. Cambridge International will carry out external quality assurance checks on school-assessed grades. If we ask you to submit candidates' evidence portfolios as part of these checks, you should submit them digitally.
Confidential source files for Cambridge International AS & A Level Information Technology (9626) and Cambridge IGCSE Information & Communication Technology (0417, 0983) are not pre-release materials. They are live exam materials and must stay confidential. Centres submitting School Assessed Grades should not attempt to download the June 2021 confidential source files or give candidates in their centre sight of the June 2021 confidential source files. Centres should not use the June 2021 confidential source files to produce pieces of work for their evidence portfolio.
Mock speaking tests can be carried out remotely, providing that they take place via video call.
Cambridge IGCSE Literature in English has changed very little apart from the syllabus code and you can use the materials available for 0486 to produce evidence for the portfolio. You can access 0486 materials on the 0475 pages of the School Support Hub.
Our guidance in the 'Collecting evidence to support school-assessed grades' fact sheet (PDF, 168KB) applies to Art & Design syllabuses:
'It is acceptable for some or all of the work in a portfolio to have been done at home. However, the teacher should be confident that the work done at home is of a consistent standard with other work that the student has done. Where the work has been set specifically for assessment purposes, and the student knows this or could infer this, then some sort of supervision is required, whether it is through the camera of a laptop or by an adult member of the family who can provide written confirmation that the work is the candidate’s own and that no assistance has been given.'
Candidates should complete as much of the Listening paper as possible. You can combine this with your own teacher-set assignment based on the set works and world music for this exam series to enable candidates to produce a substantial piece of work that takes them an hour to complete. We will not be providing additional secure materials for you to use.
For Cambridge International A Level maths, there are two components – Mechanics 1 and Statistics 1 – that can be taken as part of the AS level and as part of the A Level.
For A Level candidates who have already taken their AS qualification (staged route), the pieces of work you use to decide the school-assessed grades should relate exclusively to the ‘A Level only’ (i.e. A2) part of the course. The evidence should cover the A2 components (including M1 or S1 as appropriate) that have been taught and that the candidate would have sat as part of the A Level option they have been entered for. Work from these components (M1 or S1) can be used as part of the evidence to ensure that the content and AOs are being covered as broadly as possible. At least one of the pieces of evidence must be for Paper 3 (Pure 3) as this is a compulsory A2 component. For example, a candidate has an AS level result based on Pure 1 and Mechanics 1, and the staged route would be completed with Pure 3 and Statistics 1. The three pieces of evidence should cover Pure 3 content and Statistics 1 content.
For candidates who are taking a linear route, or are re-taking AS components in June 2021, one piece of evidence can be taken from AS content. Some examples are given below to support centres in their decision making:
For Cambridge International A Level Further Mathematics, there are two components – Further Mechanics and Further Probability and Statistics – that can be taken as part of the AS level and as part of the A Level.
For A Level candidates who have already taken their AS qualification (staged route), the pieces of work you use to decide the school-assessed grades should relate exclusively to the ‘A Level only’ (i.e. A2) part of the course. The evidence should cover the A2 components (including Further Mechanics Paper 3, or Further Probability and Statistics Paper 4 as appropriate) that have been taught and that the candidate would have sat as part of the A Level option they have been entered for. These components cover different content to the Further Pure Mathematics 2 component and work from these components can be used as part of the evidence to ensure that the content and AOs are being covered as broadly as possible. The evidence must include evidence for Further Pure Mathematics 2 (Paper 2) as this is a compulsory A2 component.
Some examples are given below to support centres in their decision making:
For candidates who are taking a linear route, or are re-taking AS components in June 2021, one piece of evidence can be taken from AS content. For example, a candidate has been entered for a linear route comprising Further Pure Mathematics 1, Further Pure Mathematics 2, Further Mechanics, Further Probability and Statistics: The evidence should cover Further Pure Mathematics 2 content and at least one of Further Mechanics or Further Probability and Statistics content. It can include evidence covering content from all three of these components. One piece of evidence may be from AS content, i.e. Further Pure Mathematics 1.
For A Level Global Perspectives, there is a single component 4, the Cambridge Research Report, which is completed for the A Level. This component is the ‘A2’ component.
For A Level candidates who have already taken their AS qualification (staged route), you can submit a single piece of evidence for A2. This single piece of evidence must comprise the full set of requirements stated in the syllabus for the component 4 Cambridge Research Report. So the single piece of evidence will be consist of:
You should allocate an overall mark for this piece of evidence using the marking criteria in the syllabus. In due course, we will provide more information about how to use this piece of evidence to create an A Level grade and how this relates to the AS Level result your candidates already have.
For candidates who are taking a linear route, or are re-taking AS components in June 2021, two pieces of evidence will be required. One piece of evidence must be taken from AS content. The other piece of evidence must be the full requirements for Component 4 (Research Report) as described above.
For Pre-U Global Perspectives, in addition to the Short Course requirements (components 1, 2 and 3) there is a single component 4, the Independent Research Report, which is completed in order to achieve a result for Pre-U Global Perspectives and Independent Research (9777).
For candidates who have already taken the Short Course (1340) in a previous series, you can submit a single piece of evidence to cover the Independent Research element of 9777. This single piece of evidence must comprise the full set of requirements stated in the syllabus for the Independent Research Report. So the single piece of evidence will consist of:
You should allocate an overall mark for this piece of evidence using the marking criteria in the syllabus. In due course, we will provide more information about how to use this piece of evidence to create a grade for Pre-U Global Perspectives and Independent Research (9777) and how this relates to the Short Course result your candidates already have.
For candidates who had planned to take all four components for the Global Perspectives and Independent Research (9777) course in the June 2021 series, two pieces of evidence will be required. One piece of evidence must be taken from the content of either components 1, 2 or 3. The other piece of evidence must be the full requirements for the Independent Research Report component 4 as described above.
As we explained in our document 'Setting and aligning standards in the June 2021 series', we will use benchmark centres to determine how much the standard has moved since the June 2019 series and we will set grade thresholds for our exams which permit the same level of movement for June 2021 across all schools in the cohort taking the examined route. For schools taking the school-assessed grades route, any change to those school’s assessed grades would be as a result of the external quality assurance process that we will be carrying out. This will look at the evidence that schools have collected, including the Rationale Document, rather than statistical trends.
As we explained in our document 'Setting and aligning standards in the June 2021 series', once we have determined how much the standard has moved since the June 2019 series, we will set grade thresholds for our exams which permit the same level of movement for June 2021. Because we do not grade for each school individually, this level of movement is across all schools in the cohort. We expect some schools do do better than the year before and others to do less well.