Reinvention of the Exam System 2021
As we approach 2021’s take on the exam season, I thought I would provide a reminder of the normal examination process which has been developed and refined over a number of years:
1. The Exam Board draft a curriculum four years in advance, including design of programmes of study and assessment processes;
2. The Exam Board prepare and disseminate specifications, specimen materials, exemplar schemes of work, specimen assessment materials, grade descriptors and exemplar standards;
3. After extensive consultation and drafting, a paper is set;
4. Exam timetables are organised; pupils sit exam;
5. Post exam, Exam Boards hold lengthy standardisation meetings in which moderation occurs and standards are set;
6. Examiners are trained on standards and pass a standardisation process prior to live marking;
7. Examiners undertake live marking which is subject to intensive scrutiny throughout to ensure maintenance of standard;
8. Level scores are added together and totals converted to a grade;
9. The Exam Boards compare grades distribution to expected national distribution based on prior attainment;
10. Ofqual evaluates outcomes for fairness. Possible grade inflations are closely monitored using progress matrix and national reference tests;
11. Grades are sent to pupils;
12. Exam Boards run an appeals process developed over many years.
In 2021, schools are essentially being asked to replace this process with their own system, in a matter of days.