One of the most difficult things about the pandemic has been the disruption to primary and secondary education.

Children have had to contend with keeping up with schoolwork, processing what is going on around them, and learning how to cope with online lessons via Zoom or Teams.

Although we are still very much within the later stages of the pandemic, the vaccination programme has now extended to secondary school children and it is now thought that exams will run more or less as normal in 2022.

However, there can be no doubt that education has been disrupted and there will need to be some adaptations to these exams to make sure that they run successfully, both in terms of the rollout and in terms of children being able to prepare with confidence.

Changes to the 2022 A levels and GCSEs

The major change is that students will be notified in advance what the exam topics will be. Normal exams, in terms of blind questions, will not return until at least 2023. There will also be other special adaptations.

A “fair and measured grading” system will be put in place. This takes into account the fact that education has been wildly disrupted for a good many children, not least those who may not have had adequate access to a stable Wi-Fi connexion or to adequate technology to learn over the past 19 months.

Hopefully, this will ensure that all children are examined on a level playing field.

For topics such as English literature and history, advance notice how exams will be focused should help children revise subjects more effectively. In maths, it is thought that there will be assistance to aid children with workings out.

The grades are also likely to change. These will “reflect a midway point between 2021 and 2019”. It is thought that this may lead to some higher grades. Although this is a step back towards normality, the normal grade profile will not return until 2023.

How will the exams take place?

Exams will take place in May and June of 2022 as normal. The exam dates will be confirmed shortly, and it is thought that advance information on the focus of what will be in those exams will be available from February 2022. For resit exams in November 2022, advance information is likely to be available in July of 2022.

For vocational and technical exams, the adaptations have already been confirmed. Colleges and schools should now be working towards these, and that it will help to achieve consistency across all boards and institutions.

GCSE & A Level Results Day

It is hoped that results day 2022 for both GCSE and A level examinations will take place as normal.

The date for A and AS level exams will be the 18th of August 2022. For GCSE exams, it will, as usual, be a week later on the 25th of August 2022.

Other types of qualifications are likely to be awarded throughout the year. Dates for these will be notified by various boards in due course.

What happens if things go wrong?

At the time of writing, the numbers are once again rising for infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. However, this is to be expected as we are currently entering an autumn and winter wave of respiratory infections.

This traditionally means flu and colds, but now - especially as we are now out of any lockdown measures - means an extra dose of COVID-19 is added into the mix.

It is likely that vaccinating school age children and giving boosters to the over 50s will mitigate the need to go back into any kind of strict lockdown.

However, there are likely to be contingency plans in place in case there is a new variant of concern and it becomes necessary to once again adapt exams.

Obviously, it is completely impossible to predict the ongoing course of the pandemic, and whether another lockdown might have to happen in the future.

What is certain is that the government is keen to legislate against this as far as possible, even if that means bringing certain restrictions back into play, such as the compulsory wearing of masks in situations where distancing is difficult or impossible, and improving ventilation.

What is important to remember is that the crucial element of exam preparation is following and completing the coursework itself; the end exam is simply an indication of how well that information has been absorbed.