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England’s exam results to return to pre-pandemic levels as modifications removed

Pic by Gareth Fuller/PA

By Alana Calvert, PA

England’s exam regulator has said results in 2023 will signal a “step back to normal”, after Covid led to an increase in top grades in 2020 and 2021.

Dr Jo Saxton, head of England’s exams regulator, Ofqual, explained results would be more similar to pre-pandemic levels this year, with some of the support measures and adjustments introduced during the disruption of Covid removed and scaled back.

According to Dr Saxton, examiners will use data to set grade thresholds that were “fair to students”.

“There’s no doubt that the pandemic has cast a long shadow, and that’s partly why we’ve put some protections in place,” she told the BBC.

“A student should be able to get a grade that they would have got had there not been a pandemic, even if the quality of their work is a little bit weaker”.

As exams get under way for most students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, students in England have not been given advance information about the topics they were likely to be tested on – as they had during Covid.

With that measure removed, grades this year are expected to fall back in line with results from 2019.

Dr Saxton said these “pre-pandemic arrangements” would give clarity to universities and employers.

However, some of the adjusted measures from the Covid years will remain in place – including the spacing apart of exams and GCSE students being given formulae and equations in some subjects. Students will also not be expected to confront unfamiliar words in language exams.

Outside England though, grades are expected to remain higher than they were in 2019 due to exam regulators in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland maintaining Covid-era modifications.

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