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Today’s update includes a reminder of our approach to 2021 exams, and more information on how grading will work for candidates that have special consideration.
Schools will also find an update on entry deadlines for the June 2021 series, and the latest news on our Checkpoint series.
As always, we are very grateful for the questions and suggestions you have been sharing with us. Please continue to contact us wherever you have questions.
We plan to send another update next week.
We have set out three elements of our approach to keep students safe and help them to progress with their education in the fairest way possible:
We’re sorry this is taking time. As the world’s largest provider of international qualifications for 5-19 year olds, working with schools in many different countries, we have to take account of different requirements in different places, and make sure we can deliver a solution that meets as many needs as possible. We completely understand that teachers, students and parents want clarity, and we remain very grateful for your patience.
We attach a letter that schools may like to share with students and parents, setting out our approach.
In our update to schools on 4 February, we announced that we are temporarily expanding our special consideration process for students who, for an acceptable reason, miss some components they were entered for. As long as these students have taken at least one component, they can still receive a grade (for A Levels, at least one 'A2' component must be taken).
We want to share more details about how we calculate these grades with schools.
To work out a grade when a student has missed one or more components, we generate marks – which we call ‘assessed marks’ – for the missing components based on the candidate’s performance in their other components in the syllabus.
We work out what position the candidate is in, compared to all the other candidates, for the components they took. We put the candidate in the same position for the component(s) they missed. We check what mark candidates would normally receive in that position on the list, and give them those marks.
For example, you might enter a candidate for a syllabus that has three components. The candidate takes component 2, but is absent from component 1 and component 3 for an acceptable reason.
Yes. In our Code of Practice, we say that candidates will be treated fairly in all circumstances (Aim 5.2). To treat candidates fairly, our special considerations will not give a candidate receiving them an advantage over other candidates (5.2i).
The method we use to produce assessed marks reflects a candidate’s position relative to the other candidates for the components they have all done. This means it is designed to make sure that achieving each assessed mark is neither easier nor harder than achieving the same mark through completing the exam.
Of course, we strongly recommend that students plan to take all the components they can - it’s better educationally and fairer for students, and reduces the risk that a student misses every component and cannot be given a grade.
We are confident that grades awarded where candidates have assessed marks are appropriate because the way that they are produced does not give candidates an advantage or disadvantage.
There are syllabuses where performance on the different components does not always correlate strongly. It may be that some candidates perform better on paper 1 than on paper 2, while other candidates perform better on paper 2 than on paper 1. Where this is the case, it is possible that a candidate’s grade using an assessed mark might not be the same as the grade they would have got from taking the component. However, to treat all candidates equally, we award an assessed mark that reflects a candidate’s position relative to the other candidates for the components they have all done.
We have extended the June 2021 first-time entry deadline from 21 February to 7 March 2021 (23:59 GMT)* to allow schools more time to work out which option is right for their situation.
We strongly encourage schools to make entries as early as possible, ideally before the deadline, even if you are uncertain of the situation in your country or region, so that we can make sure we get your questions papers to you on time.
If your circumstances change and you need to withdraw your entries because of Covid-19 schools will receive a full credit. This applies even up to seven days after the final exam of the syllabus affected.
* This does not apply to Cambridge Checkpoint - the deadline for entries is still 21 February, because Checkpoint tests start much earlier (on 5 April) and we need the time to despatch question papers.
After 7 March, schools can make late entries and amendments until 17 April, although they will be charged a late fee under our usual rules.
We continue to plan to offer Cambridge Checkpoint tests for our May 2021 series where it is safe and permitted to do so. We include details and updates in our exams officers monthly eNews, please make sure you are receiving this.
We plan to release results for all qualifications except Cambridge Pre-U from 05:00 GMT/UTC* on 12 August 2021. We will confirm the results release date for Cambridge Pre-U as soon as we can.
*UTC is Coordinated Universal Time and is the primary time standard by which the world regulates clocks and time. GMT is Greenwich Mean Time.
You can find all our advice on our Covid-19 information page.
If you have any questions, you can review our frequently asked questions, or contact us via our Help website.
We wish everyone in the Cambridge International community well at this time.