Ofqual exams and assessments changes in 2021

On June 18 2020 Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of State for Education, wrote to Ofqual regarding exams and assessments taking place in 2021 and asked Ofqual to explore potential adaptations to assessment requirements and the timing of exams next year.

Following a recent consultation, Ofqual have confirmed the changes to GCSE, AS and A Level exams and assessments in 2021. 28, 972 responses were received to the online public consultation from organisations across the education sector as well as students and parents. Ofqual announced on 3 August 2020 that they have decided to implement the majority of the proposals which were outlined in their consultation document.

General decisions affecting music courses

Exam boards will be responsible for implementing the changes to their specifications for next year’s assessments. For summer 2021, exam boards:

  • should not make greater use of optional questions in exams
  • will not be required to change the length, number or format of exam papers
  • should allow for a range of adjustments to the assessment arrangements to accommodate potential public health requirements

There are no changes to the examined content for music courses. IGCSEs are not regulated and so it is up to exam boards to make any amendments for 2021 for these specifications. No decision has been made yet regarding the timing of exams for 2021.

      Changes to GCSE music

      Performance Assessment

      • Require students to perform 1 or more pieces of music with a combined duration of at least 1.5 minutes (if all solo performance) or 2 minutes (if including performance as part of an ensemble).
      • No requirement to perform as part of an ensemble.
      • Requirement to submit complete and unedited recording of the live performance and, where available, the score or lead sheet for that performance.

      Composition Assessment

      • Require students to compose 1 or more pieces of music with a combined duration of at least 2 minutes.
        Compositions may be in response to an exam board set brief and/or be freely composed, with no requirement to do both.
      • Exam boards to provide clarification about their requirements for students who compose more than 1 piece.
      • Requirement to submit complete recording of each composition with a score, lead sheet or written account of the composition, produced by the student. NB The student does not have to perform their own composition(s). The recording(s) may be computer generated.

      Non-Examined Assessment components

      • Permit both NEA components to be marked by the teacher and moderated by the exam board or to be marked directly by the exam board.
      • Exam boards to provide clarification about their requirements.

        Changes to AS music

        Performance Assessment

        • Require students to perform 1 or more pieces of music with a combined minimum duration of at least 2.5 minutes.
        • Requirement to submit complete and unedited recording of the live performance and, where available, the score or lead sheet for that performance.

        Composition Assessment

        • Require students to compose 1 or more pieces of music with a combined duration of at least 2.5 minutes.
          Compositions may be in response to an exam board set brief and/or freely composed.
        • Requirement to submit complete recording of each composition with a score, lead sheet or written account of the composition, produced by the student. NB The student does not have to perform their own composition(s). The recording(s) may be computer generated.

        Non-Examined Assessment components

        • Permit both NEA components to be marked by the teacher and moderated by the exam board or to be marked directly by the exam board.
        • Permit the exam board to review the period in which the Performance Assessment can be undertaken, within the year of certification.
        • Exam boards to provide clarification about their requirements.

        Changes to A Level music

        Performance Assessment

        • Require students to perform 1 or more pieces of music with a combined minimum duration of at least 2.5 minutes (25% weighting), at least 3 minutes (30% weighting), or at least 3.5 minutes (35% weighting).
        • Requirement to submit complete and unedited recording of the live performance and, where available, the score or lead sheet for that performance.

          Composition Assessment

          • Require students to compose 1 or more pieces of music with a combined duration of at least 2 minutes (25% weighing), 1 or more pieces of music with a combined duration of at least 3 minutes (30% weighting), or 2 or more pieces with a combined duration of at least 4 minutes (35% weighting).
          • Compositions may be in response to an exam board set brief and/or freely composed.
            Requirement to submit complete recording of each composition with a score, lead sheet or written account of the composition, produced by the student. NB The student does not have to perform their own composition(s). The recording(s) may be computer generated.

          Non-Examined Assessment components

          • Permit both NEA components to be marked by the teacher and moderated by the exam board or to be marked directly by the exam board.
          • Permit the exam board to review the period in which the Performance Assessment can be undertaken, within the year of certification.
          • Exam boards to provide clarification about their requirements.

          Changes to AS music technology

          Recording Assessment

            • Require students to edit and produce an audio recording with a duration of at least 1.5 minutes, in response to an exam board set task.
            • Require exam board to provide sample recordings or to approve centre-selected sample recordings that are suitable for students to demonstrate their ability to edit and produce audio recordings.
            • Exam board to provide clarification about their requirements.

            Composition Assessment

            • Require students to produce a technology-based composition with a duration of at least 1.5 minutes, in response to an exam board set task.
            • Require exam board to ensure that where composition briefs have scope for live capture, students will not be disadvantaged if they complete the task using synthesised sounds only.

            Non-Examined Assessment components

            • Permit both NEA components to be marked by the teacher and moderated by the exam board or to be marked directly by the exam board.
            • Exam board to provide clarification about their requirements.

            Changes to A Level music technology

            Recording Assessment

            • Require students to edit and produce an audio recording with a duration of at least 2 minutes, in response to an exam board set task.
            • Require exam board to provide sample recordings or to approve centre-selected sample recordings that are suitable for students to demonstrate their ability to edit and produce audio recordings.
            • Exam board to provide clarification about their requirements.

            Composition Assessment

            • Require students to produce a technology-based composition with a duration of at least 2 minutes, in response to an exam board set task.
            • Require exam board to ensure that where composition briefs have scope for live capture, students will not be disadvantaged if they complete the task using synthesised sounds only.

            Non-Examined Assessment components

            • Permit both NEA components to be marked by the teacher and moderated by the exam board or to be marked directly by the exam board.
            • Exam board to provide clarification about their requirements.

            Ofqual are currently holding a consultation on the assessment of Vocational, Technical and General Qualifications for 2021. The consultation closes on Friday 14 August 2020.