HE Exams Wiki

*The aim of this page is to provide an overview of the situation around exams in the 2021/22 academic year as we face more Covid uncertainty. The situation around exams can change quickly so do check the HE Exams and Alternatives group for up to date information. Important updates will be saved as announcements.*

Summer 2022 exams are planned to go ahead. There are some adaptations to exams planned to try to mitigate for Covid disruption. This page aims to outline some of the key changes. It may not be complete. We strongly recommend that you access the Summer 22 support on the exam board specification pages to read the full description of changes for each individual spec for subjects you are doing. These changes are just for 2022 as a response to Covid disruption to learning.

Contingency arrangements are being put into place in case the situation worsens, but Government and all Awarding Organisations (exam boards) stress their aim is exams.

A frequent question that is arising is what happens if a candidate has to miss an exam due to isolating or Covid. Providing a certain amount of the assessment has been sat (usually one paper will cover it but will depend on subject) then it is possinble to apply for special consideration and have a grade awarded. For summer exams timetables have tried to factor in a longer gap between components to increase chances of one component being able to be sat. This is the information on special consideration from JCQ, which covers GCSEs, A Levels and Edexcel IGCSEs. CAIE's special consideration for June 2022 which is slightly different from normal. The key thing is communication with exam centre. As soon as any doubt arises test and contact exam centre for advice.

General Overview for Summer 22

This section gives a brief summary of the different plans and where to find more information. Government announcements and those from Ofqual and JCQ relate just to GCSE and A levels (and usually more specifically England - qualifications regulated in Wales and Northern Ireland, WJEC and CCEA, may have different rules). The International GCSE (IGCSE) boards are not regulated by Gov/Ofqual so can put different plans into place. Announcements in the press will be focused on schools and the impact there. Any new updates, we need to wait and see how Private Candidates will be affected.

GCSEs and A Levels (England)

Ofqual information on exams in 2022 Specific information for private candidates is at the bottom of the page.

Open letter from Ofqual to Private Candidates can be found here.

FAQs for Private candidates can be found here.

JCQ are putting together a list of exam centres willing to support private candidates in 2022. Link will be updated when it comes out but the previous list is here.

Support pages from the Awarding Organisations - Pearson Edexcel (Pearson Private Candidates page), AQA, OCR (OCR Private Candidates page)

The approach for GCSEs and A Levels for 2022 is to work towards exams with adaptions in place to mitigate for lost learning due to school closures, constraints on practical activities and possible disruption on an individual level. These adaptions take 5 forms:-

  • Longer gaps between papers. The final timetables which are out now show a longer gap between papers than in pre-Covid series. The hope is that if candidates have to miss a paper due to Covid/isolating as long as they sit enough to meet the minimum percentage (can be as low as 25%) then special consideration can be applied and they can be awarded a grade.
  • Optionality of content. This is effectively content reduction for a few very continent heavy subjects.
  • Advance notice of exam topics for all subjects apart from those with optionality (or art)
  • Provision of extra exam support materials eg formulae sheets.
  • Adaptions to specific subjects eg for NEAs

Contingency arrangements are being put into place for if it is decided exams can not go ahead. Details on the consultation decisions can be find here. The contingency plans are based on TAGs (Teacher Assessed Grades). The guidance to exam centres and schools on gathering the evidence has a section on private candidates that explains that the evidence for PCs can be gathered in a short period in the event of cancellations. The FAQs for Private Candidates answers some importatnt questions over who can mark and conditions around assessments.

Edexcel IGCSEs

Pearson are following similar adaptations to exams for 2022 for their IGCSEs as are in place for GCSEs. With optionality, advanced notice and provision of extra support featuring. A general overview can be found here, with detailed information on each specifiation page for adaptions for that subject.

Contingency arrangements are being put into place for IGCSEs if the summer series in event of cancellations. They will not publish specific plans unless exams are cancelled as it will depend on when and why cancellations are necessary. They say they are committed to exams, it is likely to be individual countries affected rather than blanket cancellations. If cancellations are required we do know that students’ grades would instead be determined by using an evidence-based approach which would then be marked and graded by Pearson.  Centres would have to submit at least one set of past papers as part of the portfolio. Further details can be found here.

Cambridge IGCSEs

Cambridge IGCSEs are planning on carrying forward component exemptions and adaptations that were available in Summer 2021 to Summer 2022. Details on component exemptions can be found here. They largely affect practical components. If cancellations are necessary they will be local (country/region). Exam centres will need to submit a portfolio of three substantial pieces of evidence for each student. This will be marked by Cambridge International examiners. Details on this contigency approach can be found here.

Latest newsletters from CAIE can be found here.

Autumn 2021 Exam Series

Cambridge (CAIE) IGCSEs

Cambridge's normal Autumn exam series is set to go ahead from 1st Oct - 18th Nov. As a standard exam series it is open to new sitters.


Entry deadline is Sept 21st although exam centres will have a deadline earlier than this to allow them to process registrations. If you want to resit you will need to register soon.

Edexcel IGCSEs

Pearson are running a special Autumn series from Nov 1st - Nov 26th


The series is open to new entrants. Any adaptions to syllabuses/exams planned for the summer 2021 series will be in place. Entry deadline is Oct 4th although exam centres will have a deadline earlier than this to allow them to process registrations. If you want to resit you will need to register soon.

This document shows the availability of subjects in the Nov 21 and Jan 22 series

GCSEs and A Levels

There will a GCSE special Autumn series from Nov 1st - Dec 2nd

There will be an A Level special Autumn series from Oct 4th - Oct 22nd


Edexcel GCSEs



Edexcel A Levels

AQA A Levels

OCR A Levels

Entry for the autumn 2021 exam series for GCSE, AS and A level examinations is restricted to students who have received a teacher-assessed grade in summer 2021 and to students who are able to demonstrate that they would have entered summer 2021 exams had they not been cancelled.  Exam boards will give the benefit of doubt to private candidates, to address concerns that they might not be able to provide evidence of their intention to take exams in the summer had they taken place. In this situation the student should make a declaration to the entering centre to confirm that they would have entered in summer 2021 if exams had taken place. Centres should retain these declarations and make them available to the awarding organisation or the JCQ Centre Inspection Service if requested. 

The exception to the above restriction is English Language and Maths GCSEs which have a regular November exam series and are open to new candidates who are 16 or older on 31/8/2021

Any adaptions to syllabuses/exams planned for the summer 2021 series will be in place.

Entry deadline for A Level is 8th Sep and GCSE is Oct 4th, although exam centres will have deadlines earlier than this to allow them to process registrations.

Edexcel IGCSE January 2022 Series

The exam series in January 2022 is a reduced series with stightly less subjects running than normal. Details on subjects available are available here.