Ofqual exams and assessments changes in 2021 Jump to main content

Ofqual exams and assessments changes in 2021

Updated 23 November

On 10 November the Welsh Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, announced that there would be no exams for GCSE, AS and A Level students next summer. This followed an announcement on 7 October from the Scottish Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, that National 5 exams would not take place in 2021. The English and Northern Irish Governments remain committed to a full programme of exams next summer, with some modifications to subject content.


Changes to course requirements mostly affect the performing and composing components. There are no changes to written exams.

More information on:

AQA AS Music

AQA A Level Music

Edexcel GCSE Music

Edexcel AS/A Level Music

Edexcel AS/A Level Music Technology


OCR AS Level Music

OCR A Level Music

Northern Ireland

GCSE and AS/A Level exams will continue as planned for summer 2021. There are some changes to the specification for this year only.

The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) have made adaptations for GCSE Music in the performing and appraising and composing components. The external written exam (Component 3: listening and appraising) remains unchanged.

The CCEA adaptations for AS and A Level Music affect the performance and composition components of the qualifications but the ‘Responding to Music’ exam remains unchanged for both.


National 5 courses will be based on teacher/lecturer estimates. Pupils will not be required to take exams and SQA will not assess coursework.

Guidance for gathering evidence and producing estimates can be found on their website.

Higher and Advanced Higher exams will take place as normal with some changes to the performing and composing requirements.

Changes to Higher and Advanced Higher Music course assessment

Changes to Higher and Advance Higher Music Technology course assessment


GCSE and AS/A Level exams have been cancelled for summer 2021. They will be replaced by teacher-managed assessments, potentially externally set and marked but carried out in classrooms under teacher supervision. The Welsh Government is working with Qualifications Wales and Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC) to develop the final details.

WJEC has confirmed that the announcement regarding exams in Wales for 2021 does not apply to GCSE and GCE qualifications accredited by Ofqual.