COVID-19 and A Levels: What We Know So Far
Description: COVID-19 means A Level exams are cancelled. What does this mean for grades and university offers, and how can students stay positive during lockdown, especially with all this worry about Covid-19 and A levels?
Standfirst: On 18 March 2020, the Government announced that UK schools and colleges—without exception—were to cancel all exams for 2020, including A Levels.
The COVID-19 pandemic has left 16–18-year-olds up and down the country in a unique sort of turmoil, as the Government struggles to find the answers these students so desperately deserve. Should they continue revising? How will their grades be decided? What about university offers?
Today we answer your most pressing questions and concerns—and think about how A Level students can be keeping themselves active and positive during lockdown.
How will my A Level results be decided?
In 2020, A Level teachers will make a holistic assessment of every student based on their performance over the course of their studies. This will be based not only on homework and classwork but also on participation.
Teachers will make what Ofqual are terming a ‘realistic judgement’ of what grade they believe the student would have achieved in their final exams. They will then corroborate this with the student’s results in both their GCSEs and mock A Level exams.
Finally, teachers will compare the student’s performance to the average performance of students of previous years, to help them come to a fair conclusion as to what the student’s predicted—and, in this case, final—grade should be.
According to Dennis Sherwood, a specialist in assessment systems who works as a consultant for Ofqual, this process has been judged by the Government to be the fairest possible way of addressing a uniquely challenging situation. Indeed, he believes that COVID-19 may fundamentally change the way grading functions:
If we can demonstrate that teacher assessment works, is trusted and can be done a lot more quickly and be less costly with a lot less emotional wear and tear for students, we will be in a much better position in coming years to evolve something better than the present system.
Once grades have been decided, students will be ranked, which will feed into a nationwide data model built by Ofqual to help reach results that are statistically standardised across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
When will I find out my A Level results?
Your teachers will not be permitted to make your final grades public. The Department for Education (DfE) announced on 26 April that students will find out their A Level results on Thursday, 13 August.
Could I appeal or take an exam if I disagree with my grade in August?
Ofqual have not yet released a statement on how an appeals process would work, or if such a process will even be available. However, Ofqual have requested that universities and further education institutions look into the possibility of delaying their entry processes to account for the possibility of an A Level grades appeals process being set up over the summer.
In terms of exams becoming an option after August’s results day, there is also no information currently as to whether these will be available to students who are dissatisfied with their grades. However, the DfE have made it clear that if exams are made available and a student then achieves a lesser grade than they were predicted by their teacher, the higher grade will remain valid and their exam result discounted.
What will happen to my university offer?
The final grade as decided by your teacher will constitute your formal grade for that subject. It will have equivalent status to a grade awarded any other year. This means universities and further education institutions will accept these results as they would under normal circumstances.
Universities have been working alongside the DfE to support A Level students and ensure admissions processes to their institutions remain as flexible as possible. If you have an unconditional offer to a university, that will not change and the place will be yours if you so wish.
If exams become available after the August results day and you wish to improve your A Level result in order to be considered by a university or further education institution that wouldn’t accept you based on the grade decided by your teacher, it is highly advisable to speak to a representative at said institution to discuss the implications.
And finally, be aware that UCAS Clearing for 2020 will open on Monday, 6 July. Clearing will give you a chance to find a place on a university course if you are not confident your predicted grade will secure you access to your first-choice institution. And with Clearing opening over a month before A Level results day, it might be a good idea to begin researching alternative universities and courses in case your results aren’t quite what you’d hoped.
How can I boost my UCAS application?
There are plenty of great online courses out there for year 13 students which can help enhance your future prospects and boost your UCAS applications. Minerva running our own short courses called Minerva Symposia. Check them out.
What can A Level students be doing during lockdown?
No A Level student has ever had to go through the specific challenges and traumatic uncertainties experienced by this year’s cohort. And with everything that’s going on in the world, it’s important for our 16–18-year-olds to keep calm, disregard hearsay and trust only those updates about their A Levels that are disseminated by reputable sources.
Despite most of us having more time on our hands now than ever before in our lives, lockdown can feel like a bit of a bubble. Productivity can all too easily give way to procrastination and, in turn, boredom and misery from lack of purpose and direction. This may prove especially true for A Level students, whose futures remain uncertain.
It’s crucial that our young people spend this time being kind to themselves. Here are some great ways to stay productive, relaxed and calm about your A Level results and outcomes.
Never stop learning
Just because you’re not currently in college, doesn’t mean you can’t educate yourself. There’s a whole world of knowledge out there—and now you’ve got some time to go and seek it out.
Whether you’re reading a book around your favourite subject, watching an awesome documentary or even working on a project around something that interests you, it’s important—and fun!—to keep your brain stimulated and active. Why not try one of these courses designed specifically for Year 13 students during lockdown.
And remember, the DfE have consulted some of the UK’s leading educational experts to collate a diverse range of free online resources for children of all ages, including A Level students.
Spend time away from your screen
When you’re already stuck inside all day, it’s all too easy to spend the majority of the day watching TV, using the computer or scrolling through your phone. Give your eyes a rest and your mind a break by making the most of your daily allotted walk and enjoying fresh air in the garden, if you’re fortunate enough to have one.
What’s more, it can be fantastic fun to get back into more traditional forms of recreation during lockdown, such as cooking, playing board games and—of course—spending time with your family.
Lockdown can feel really isolating, so be sure to check in with friends and those relatives who not part of your household on a regular basis. Whether it’s a video call or just a chat on the phone, keeping in contact with your nearest and dearest can prove key in staying positive and not becoming too insular during your time at home.
Write down your goals
New Year isn’t the only time you can work out what your aspirations for the year are and what you would like to achieve in the next 12 months. Writing down your aims can be an invaluable way of visualising what to prioritise in the coming months—and galvanise you to work out your plans for achieving those goals.
Find an A Level tutor
If you think you’re going to want to take one or all of your A Level exams if they become available after results day on 13 August, or your AS exams were cancelled but you want to start preparing for next year’s A Levels—we can help.
During lockdown, the value of Minerva’s professional and highly experienced online tutors has become more important than ever before. Not only can online tutoring keep students active and stimulated, but our amazing A Level tutors can also help you prepare for your exams later this year in the absence of any teachers or schooling environment.
In 2019, an astounding 85 per cent of our 180 A Level students achieved A or A*. That’s just one of the many reasons we have been consistently rated one of the best tutoring agencies for A Level students in the whole of the UK, particularly for Biology, Chemistry and Maths.
Get in touch with Minerva Tutors today and, together, we can help your child stay positive and stimulated during lockdown, as well as prepare them for their A Level exams after August results day. Simply fill in our contact form, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call or WhatsApp us on +44 (0) 2088 193 276.