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Candidates in a country or region where exams cannot go ahead in November 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 March 2022 (for India only), June 2022 and November 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 November 2021 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. You can find out more information about how the pieces of work in a candidate's portfolio should be used in the determination of a school-assessed grade in our November 2021 school-assessed grades guidance (PDF, 702KB).
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 November 2021 series. You can find out more about how the pieces of work in a candidate's portfolio should be used in the determination of a school-assessed grade in our November 2021 school-assessed grades guidance (PDF, 702KB).
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 2022 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 November 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.
You can find out more information about how the pieces of work in a candidate's portfolio should be used in the determination of a school-assessed grade in our November 2021 school-assessed grades guidance (PDF, 702KB).
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 our November 2021 school-assessed grades guidance (PDF, 702KB).
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:
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.
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.
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 in our November 2021 school-assessed grades guidance (PDF, 702KB). There is no requirement for all the pieces of evidence to be past papers.
The evidence contained in the portfolio must show the candidates' actual work; it is not acceptable to submit raw scores without the work itself.
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.
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.
Yes, candidates can complete class or homework assignments to be submitted in the evidence portfolio, providing the assignments meet the requirements set out in our November 2021 school-assessed grades guidance (PDF, 702KB). You must be able to authenticate the work.
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.
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.
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.
You may share the broad topics that the assessment will cover with candidates. However, candidates should not know specific questions in advance.
You can use a multiple-choice past question paper but you must follow these rules, which are new guidance for November 2021:
For tasks set by the centre, multiple-choice questions should NOT be used. We have made these changes because the candidate responses provided for a multiple-choice test do not provide clear evidence of a candidate’s performance and so are difficult to review as part of our quality assurance processes.
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.
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.
We strongly recommend that at least one of the pieces of work is a complete past paper dating back to before June 2020. This is because the published grade thresholds for these papers enable you to grade papers to the established performance standard for the qualification that was unaffected by the pandemic. Past papers from later than the June 2020 series may be used in addition, at the centre’s discretion. However, you will need to grade these papers differently because their published grade thresholds were calculated on the basis of the specific circumstances these exams took place in, so are not applicable for the November 2021 series. 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.
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. To help you do this, we recommend that you anonymise the paper so that it is more difficult for candidates to identify the paper you plan to use.
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. You can find out more about aligning 9-1 grades with A*-G grades in our Guide to A*–G and 9–1 grades (PDF, 609KB).
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.
We strongly recommend that at least one of the pieces of work is a complete past paper dating back to before June 2020. This is because the published grade thresholds for these papers enable you to grade papers to the established performance standard for the qualification that was unaffected by the pandemic. Past papers from later than the June 2020 series may be used in addition, at the centre’s discretion. However, you will need to grade these papers differently because their published grade thresholds were calculated on the basis of the specific circumstances these exams took place in, so are not applicable for the November 2021 series. 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 2020 and 2021, 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. You can find out more in our November 2021 school-assessed grades guidance (PDF, 702KB).
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 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 November 2021 school-assessed grades guidance (PDF, 702KB) document for more information.
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 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.
In countries, and regions of countries, where exams cannot go ahead, 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.
Yes. Candidates who have a school-assessed grade from the June 2021 series may choose to enter again for the same syllabus in November 2021. In some cases, these candidates may be in countries which are assessed via the school-assessed grade route in November 2021. In these cases:
There will be an external quality assurance process carried out by Cambridge. You can find out more about this on our website.
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. It is not acceptable for a candidate to repeat a task with the aim of improving their performance This applies equally to past papers set by us and to teacher-set assignments.
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. Each candidate must have three pieces of evidence. 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.
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 November 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 November 2021 confidential source files or give candidates in their centre sight of the November 2021 confidential source files. Centres cannot use the November 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 our November 2021 school-assessed grades guidance (PDF, 702KB) 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 November 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 November 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 Cambridge IGCSE Physical Education, if you are able to include the practical assessment objectives in your candidates’ portfolio of evidence, you must include recorded evidence of the candidates’ work. This could be recorded evidence of:
If you are not able to provide recorded evidence for the practical component, you should include three pieces of evidence for the written component and explain why this is the case in the Rationale Document.
If your school is using school-assessed grades, the speaking part of endorsed syllabuses – where the speaking grade is reported separately – is not available to you in the November 2021 series.
For any syllabus with a separately endorsed speaking component, the criteria for awarding a school-assessed grade do not include the skills tested in the speaking test. As such, demonstrating these skills does not amount to demonstrating a level of performance in this qualification. Therefore, you cannot use the speaking test as part of a candidate's evidence portfolio for any syllabus with a separately endorsed speaking component.