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We will switch schools to the portfolio of evidence approach once we are clear that exams cannot go ahead. We will judge this on a variety of criteria, including:
We are not asking schools to prove that exams cannot go ahead, but we do welcome local insight and information as we navigate these unpredictable times together. We will be working closely with our regional teams in understanding the needs of our different localities and we recommend you contact your regional representative in the first instance. They will be gathering information at a local level to inform our decision making and keeping us informed about local situations.
If we switch you to portfolio of evidence, we will email you to confirm our decision, and we will notify all affected schools in that area.
We understand that some parents are very concerned about the health and welfare of their families and that some of the children in your schools may be in close contact with vulnerable relatives.
However, if the school is open and able to run exams, we would expect all students to sit these exams. We are not able to switch some students to the portfolio of evidence and not others – we have to treat all candidates within a syllabus the same.
We have produced additional guidance to support you in running exams where it is safe and permitted to do so. This may also reassure students and parents that exams will be conducted as safely as possible.
If we decide to move your school to the portfolio of evidence route, your exams officer will receive an email from us confirming the switch. You must continue to make entries as normal. In April, we will move your entries to the portfolio of evidence route. Do not be concerned if your entries appear as normal on Direct before then. Once we have moved your entries to the portfolio of evidence route, you will see the new entry option on Direct. We will not be issuing updates statements of entry following this change.
If you have sat at least one component that counts towards the syllabus grade in the exam series, we will be able to calculate an assessed grade for that syllabus based on the component sat. In this case you will not need to be switched to the portfolio of evidence route for that syllabus. However, it is possible that you could be switched to the portfolio of evidence for a syllabus for which your candidates have not yet taken any exams.
The portfolio of evidence is designed to be as flexible as possible to accommodate uncertainty where it is unclear whether exams will be able to run. We aim to switch schools to the portfolio of evidence route by 17 April. However, if circumstances change in your country or region after 17 April and we need to switch schools from exams to the portfolio of evidence after that date, we will be able to do so.
Once the exam series starts, we can still switch to portfolio of evidence for syllabuses where no components have yet been sat. We need to do this for all students at your centre entered for that syllabus. We will not be able to switch some of your students entered for a syllabus to portfolio of evidence while the rest of your students entered for that syllabus take the exam.
Where at least one eligible assessed component has been taken in a syllabus, including coursework components where you have already prepared or submitted work to us for marking/moderation, you should apply for special consideration – absent for an acceptable reason. We will calculate an assessed grade for each student taking that syllabus.
Please note, we cannot calculate an assessed mark for the following:
If candidates in your centre are entered for a Cambridge International A Level and have taken at least one AS Level component but no A2 Level components, we will move all of your candidates for this syllabus to portfolio of evidence, so these candidates can be awarded A Level grades.
Portfolio of evidence is only available at syllabus level for a whole centre. This means for each syllabus where you are unable to run any exams and need to submit a portfolio of evidence, you must submit evidence for all candidates entered for that syllabus. It is not possible for some candidates entered for the same syllabus to sit exams and others to submit portfolios of evidence, and we cannot use the portfolio of evidence for one candidate – unless they are the only candidate entered for that syllabus.
We understand that schools want certainty about how their students will be assessed. As exams are the fairest and most accurate way of assessing candidates’ performance, we encourage you to prepare for exams as far as possible. We also encourage you to collect evidence for the portfolio.
You will not be able to switch back to running exams if we move you to the portfolio of evidence route. This is why we will switch schools only as a last resort, when it is clear that exams will not be able to go ahead.
Switching back to exams would require a significant amount of operational work which we cannot guarantee to complete in the time available to us. You would also have to re-start exam administration that may have been abandoned with the move to portfolio of evidence. Expecting both us and you to deliver everything required extremely quickly introduces many risks to the delivery of exams which could mean students do not receive grades.
In addition, we appreciate that the uncertainty around exams can be stressful for students and their families. In making the move to portfolio of evidence ‘one way’ for a particular exam series, students will then have certainty about how they will be assessed and will know that this will not change.
Many of you have questions about carrying forward from AS Level to A Level and we appreciate the options available can be complex. To help explain the carry-forward options available to you, we recommend you read Carrying forward AS to A Level information.
We are asking for six pieces of evidence for A Levels where the student is following the linear route to assessment. This is where they have not taken the AS Level after the first year of study. As a result, to award the A Level, we will need a portfolio for the AS part of the course and a portfolio for the A Level part of the course. These six pieces of work represent the amount of work assessed when taking a linear A Level – where candidates sit all components at the end of two years, this would typically be around six hours of assessment, reflecting the size of the A Level qualification.
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.
If your school is in a country or region that we have switched to the portfolio of evidence route, you no longer need to:
However, there are some tasks to 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. However, you should not simply select each candidate’s best work. You should choose work which is most representative of the level of performance that the candidate has demonstrated during their course of study.
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 portfolio of evidence guidance. 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.
For each candidate, the three pieces of evidence in the portfolio must cover as broad a range as possible of the content of the syllabus.
You can use a complete past paper, and this will count as one piece of evidence. You can also use parts of past papers to create your own task. This task should take candidates at least one hour to complete, and it will count as one piece of evidence. You should make sure that each candidate’s portfolio of evidence covers as broad a range as possible of the syllabus content and the assessment objectives.
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 portfolio of evidence guidance. 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 cannot use a multiple-choice question paper as a piece of evidence in the portfolio. You cannot use multiple-choice questions as part of a test created in the centre. This is because the candidate responses provided for multiple-choice questions do not provide clear evidence of a candidate’s performance. Our Cambridge examiners will not be able to make holistic judgements about a candidate’s performance and the level of a candidate’s understanding and skills based on this type of evidence.
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.
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.
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 are aware that for some new syllabuses, complete past papers do not exist. 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 portfolio of evidence guidance.
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.
For most syllabuses, if you want to use coursework as a piece of evidence, the entire coursework component, prepared according to syllabus requirements and to the requirements specified in the Cambridge Handbook, counts as a single piece of evidence. Please refer to our portfolio of evidence guidance document for syllabus-specific 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 portfolio of evidence 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 24 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.
Yes, as per our processes for a standard exam series, please do submit forecast grades to us as normal. We will be able to use forecast grades to support the portfolio of evidence in the same ways that we do for candidates who take exams.
Pieces of work from a school-assessed grades portfolio cannot be used again for the portfolio of evidence. All work in the candidate’s portfolio of evidence must be new pieces of work. ‘New’ means that the candidate has not attempted the same task on a previous occasion.
We can allow schools to do this where it reduces administration for the school. If you want to outsource scanning students’ work, you must:
Any such arrangements remain the responsibility of the school and any errors which may impact the assessment, for example incomplete scanning or delayed transmission, will not be Cambridge's responsibility.
As students’ work will have been marked by Cambridge examiners, there will be opportunity to challenge results through an enquiry about results service, and we will publish more information about this soon.
The portfolio will be marked by Cambridge examiners who will use exemplar materials to make judgements about the standard of the student’s performance in each piece of work. We have published information about this process.
We will align awarding standards for students taking exams with awarding standards for students using the portfolio of evidence route, so that no student will be advantaged or disadvantaged by their route to their grades.
We commit in our Code of Practice to aligning our awarding standards to those of equivalent qualifications in England. This means that we will follow Ofqual’s approach of 2022 grade boundaries reflecting a midpoint between 2021 and pre-pandemic grading.
You should not tell students the topics that will come up in any exams that you set in school, or release papers to students in advance. We expect you to think carefully about the tasks that you intend to use as evidence, and make sure that candidates cannot predict the likely content of the task. You should only use these past papers if the candidates do not know in advance, and cannot guess with any confidence, the content of the specific paper you set them and if you can authenticate the candidates’ work.
You should only use past papers if the candidates do not know in advance, and cannot guess with any confidence, the content of the specific paper you set them and if you can authenticate the candidates’ work. Once some candidates have sat a past paper (or other tasks set by the school), it will not be possible for the school to have certainty that the content of the paper has not been discussed or shared between candidates. Therefore, we recommend that you use a different task for the candidates who were unable to sit the paper in your scheduled assessment opportunity.
We will ask you to submit a digital copy of the Rationale Document to us alongside your candidates’ portfolios of evidence.
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.
If we have moved your centre to the portfolio of evidence route, some of the usual aspects of special consideration do not apply. The most significant difference is that we cannot generate a calculated assessment for a missing piece of evidence. This is because the portfolio of evidence entry is a single component with 100% weighting. There are no other components upon which to base a calculation, and so ’absent for an acceptable reason’ is not available for the portfolio of evidence route. If a candidate is absent when a piece of evidence is being generated, or the evidence goes missing, gets damaged or corrupted, or there is otherwise a shortfall in a piece of evidence, then you should replace it. If this is not possible then you should withdraw the candidate.
If a candidate is affected by adverse circumstances while producing one or more of their pieces of evidence, you must try to replace that evidence. If this is not possible you can apply for ‘present but disadvantaged’ in the usual way.
You must use our ‘Portfolio of evidence regulations supplement: special consideration and malpractice’ together with the Cambridge Handbook 2022 if you are moved to the portfolio of evidence route.
You cannot use confidential material to produce evidence for the portfolio. It is live exam material and can only be used by schools sitting exams.
All students’ portfolio of evidence work will be submitted digitally to Cambridge through Submit for Assessment.