Update for Cambridge schools on the June 2021 exam series (Cambridge IGCSE, Cambridge O Level and Cambridge International AS & A Level) - 4 February 2021

To all Cambridge schools worldwide,

2021 has brought progress in the fight against Covid-19, but it remains a tough and uncertain time for teachers, students and parents. Teaching and learning have been a huge challenge, and we continue to be awed by how dedicated, resilient and resourceful our school communities have been.

We are listening closely to your views, so we can work out how best to support you, wherever you are in the world. We work in 160 countries, with schools in different situations and facing different challenges to each other. We continue to plan for exams to go ahead in June 2021 where it is permitted and safe.

At the same time, schools want us to help them manage the impact of the pandemic on teaching and learning. That’s why we have set up many extra measures this year to support schools and students with exams. Schools can ask for adjustments to aspects of assessments, and exemptions from many components that the pandemic makes harder to run.

For 2021, we’re also expanding our special considerations process for students who for good reason miss some components they were entered for. As long as these students have taken at least one assessment component, they can receive a grade. This is a temporary measure in response to the pandemic. We will say more about this next week.

We’ve introduced new guidance for schools on how to hold exams safely, and used it for the first time in November 2020, when schools in over 130 countries ran our exams, our largest ever November series. Our March 2021 series starts soon.

For the small number of countries (such as Mexico and the UK) and regions within countries where running exams is not possible because of directives from national or regional authorities, we are looking at switching from exams to an approach based on teacher assessment. This would apply to all schools in those countries and regions. We will provide a further update next week.

We are working with our regional teams worldwide to monitor the ongoing situation. We will update schools immediately if it becomes clear that exams cannot go ahead in their country or region and we need to switch to an approach based on teacher assessment in their country or region.

In setting exam standards, we take very seriously our responsibility to make sure students are assessed fairly and can progress with their education. Exams offer consistent, reliable and fair measurement of attainment, and we have highly effective processes for managing standards in the grades from exams. We will manage standards in 2021 with the aim of ensuring that grades are comparable whichever route a student takes. 

Our Global Recognitions team is working with universities in all regions so that they understand our approach for 2021 and can make informed admission and credit decisions.

Many private candidates have been in touch with us, and we continue to work with centres on supporting them so they can receive grades this year. By allowing exams to be taken wherever possible, we will ensure that as many private candidates as possible can achieve grades.

For now, we ask schools to continue to make entries and encourage students to keep working on their studies. Schools will receive credit for withdrawals they make because of Covid-19, even after the exam.  We know there are many questions and we are grateful for your patience as we deal with them. You can find out answers to many of your questions on our website, or contact us here.

We also welcome your feedback on what we’re doing here.

Staying in touch

You can find all of our advice on our website at www.cambridgeinternational.org/covid 

We wish everyone in the Cambridge International community well at this time.