What can we expect from AS, A level and GCSE results in Wales this year?
Formal exams and assessments have taken place again this summer for the second time since they were cancelled during the pandemic. In this piece, Jo Richards, Executive Director of Regulation at Qualifications Wales, talks about what we can expect when results are announced next month.
As another academic year draws to a close, many learners across Wales eagerly anticipate the release of their AS, A level, GCSE and vocational qualification results. Exams and assessments took place again this summer for the second time since they were cancelled during the pandemic. As you know, some changes were made this year to provide extra support for learners sitting exams in the form of advance information, together with a supportive approach to grading.
For GCSEs, AS and A levels provided by WJEC, results will be broadly midway between those awarded in 2019 (the last year before the pandemic) and 2022 (the first-year learners sat exams as we emerged from the pandemic). This means that when WJEC awards grades, the process will continue to provide learners with some extra support – a safety net – as we take the next step on the journey back to normal assessment arrangements.
Why are we taking a supportive approach to grading again this year?
We know that learners experienced significant disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic, which led the Welsh Government to cancel both the 2020 and 2021 exam series. During these years, schools and colleges provided Centre Assessed Grades (CAGs) and Centre Determined Grades (CDGs) which were implemented as one-off commitments under exceptional circumstances.
National results seen in the ‘pandemic years’ were substantially higher than normal results. The flexible approach to assessment arrangements was designed to support schools, colleges and learners, but we know that it led to inconsistencies in approach and variation in results.
With the return to formal exams and assessments last summer, additional support was put in place to offset some of the disruption and the transition back to normal processes.
This year, we have taken the next step on the journey back to pre-pandemic assessment arrangements. There was still some extra support in place, including a supportive approach to grading qualifications.
We expect that results will vary across subjects and nationally
Although we expect national results will be broadly midway between the 2019 and 2022 results, we may see more variation for individual subjects. This is because the cohort of learners taking the exams for some qualifications this summer could be very different to those who took it in 2019 and 2022. Changes in entry numbers for specific qualifications have been significant, which could affect the results by introducing a different range of learner abilities among the total group of students taking those subjects.
Individual schools and colleges may also see more variation in their results. For example, some schools or colleges may find that their overall results are not close to the midway position. But it’s important to remember that individual schools and colleges only represent a very small sample of results for each qualification, and the broadly midway position applies to national results for all learners across Wales.
This summer’s results will be released on the following days:
Thursday 17 August for AS, A levels and Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate qualifications
Thursday 24 August for GCSE and Foundation/National Skills Challenge Certificate qualifications
although there isn’t one set day for all vocational qualifications, level 3 vocational and technical qualification results used for progression are issued no later than Thursday 17 August.
We know that waiting to find out results can be unsettling. It’s important to remember that you have done all you can now, and you should be proud of your hard work. Try to relax and enjoy your summer break.
If you’re receiving results next month, you should be proud of your resilience and hard work, and I wish you all the best for the next stage of your education, training or employment.
I hope that all learners achieve the grades they need to progress. However, if you don’t achieve as expected, don’t panic! Remember that there are numerous options available and different pathways you can take.
For more support and guidance look on the Qualifications Wales website or visit: