January 2022 exams

The start of this new term is a very busy and uncertain one for everyone in schools and colleges. Here’s a summary of key information to support you and your students taking Cambridge Nationals and Cambridge Technicals exams which started on Monday 10 January.

On this page:

Previous communications about running exams in January 2022

As a reminder, here are the communications about running exams in January 2022 that we sent to schools and colleges in December:

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Latest updates from the DfE

On 2 January 2022, the Education Secretary repeated his message about exams and assessments going ahead in the new year, ‘so that students, who have worked so hard to prepare for them, have the chance to demonstrate what they know’. On the same day, the DfE issued updated public health guidance for centres preparing for and running exams on 1) wearing face coverings and 2) self-isolation arrangements.

The DfE stated the following on wearing face marks for exams: “We would not ordinarily expect candidates and invigilators to wear face coverings during exams but they may wear them if they wish to and settings should be sensitive to the needs of individuals.” The DfE confirmed that candidates who have symptoms, test positive or are self-isolating due to Covid, cannot attend exams.

The DfE stated: “Schools and colleges should contact awarding bodies on the candidate’s behalf to determine the next available assessment opportunity.”

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Arrangements for your students who are not able to take a Cambridge National or Cambridge Technical exam in January 2022 due to temporary issues

We hope as many of your students as possible are prepared and able to take exams this month. However, if your students have or are in self-isolation, due to COVID for example, they cannot attend exams.

For students who are due to complete their qualification in June 2022 and who are not able to take exams in January 2022 due to temporary issues including Covid, the first option to consider is to reschedule their exams in the June 2022 series instead. However, if rescheduling exams in the June 2022 series instead is not possible and your students would be disadvantaged by this, an alternative option for students planning to complete the qualification in June 2022 is to submit a request for a special consideration absence. Students who are eligible will be given an assessed grade for exams they were planning to take in the January series. See below for more details.

For students who were due to complete their qualification in January 2022 and who are not able to take exams this month due to temporary issues such as Covid, please submit a request for special consideration absence in the normal way. See below.

For students who are not due to complete their qualification until 2022/23 and who are not able to take the exams in January 2022, please reschedule their exams for June 2022 or for a series in 2022/23.

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Special consideration

If you decide to request special consideration absence for a student affected by a temporary issue at the time of assessment, and leading to an assessed grade (see below), our Special Consideration Online will be open until 31 January 2022. This applies to any student who is in a position to certificate in January 2022 or in June 2022 and misses their timetabled exam due to illness, injury, bereavement or self-isolation. If you have any queries, please get in touch with our Special Requirements Team.

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Assessed grades for students who are not able to take an exam in January 2022 due to temporary issues

A student may receive an assessed grade if they are unable to take an assessment due to circumstances outside their control. To produce an assessed grade, we estimate how a student would have performed on a missing unit by looking at their performance on other units they have completed. We will use the proportional method that calculates an average grade based on the other grades a student has achieved. We will estimate an externally assessed unit based on other externally assessed units. If your qualification only has one externally assessed unit, then we will calculate the assessed grade based on the other units in the qualification.

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Greater flexibility in running January 2022 exams

To give you more support at this uncertain time, we can confirm that:

  • Exam start times: Schools and colleges are currently allowed to vary the start of exams (i.e 9.00am and 1.30pm) by up to 30 mins from the published time, without informing OCR. However if you experience disruption relating to Covid during January 2022, we will allow you to start the exam later than that provided a member of staff supervises your students from no later than 30 minutes after the published start time until the exam. Please email gqcompliance@ocr.org.uk to explain the arrangements on the day of the exam itself.
  • Minimum invigilator requirements: We will permit an invigilator/student ratio of 1 to 40 rather than 1 to 30 in the January 2022 exams. In exceptional circumstances, exams can continue if the Head of Centre is confident it can be done with integrity if a number of invigilators aren’t present at short notice and your school or college has exhausted other options. We will also permit the use of subject teachers to invigilate January 2022 exams, providing they aren’t the sole one for a group of students they have taught. Please email gqcompliance@ocr.org.uk to confirm any exceptional invigilation arrangements that are made on the day. Remote invigilation: We are not able to offer this for your students in January 2022 unfortunately. If your students are not able to be invigilated, you can apply for special consideration if they are certificating in January 2022 or June 2022. Please contact our Special Requirements Team as above.
  • Alternative exam accommodation: To help you manage January 2022 exams, you will be allowed to relocate an exam to an alternative venue at short notice if it’s due to a medical condition. Please inform the JCQ Centre Inspection Service via an alternative site form using the Centre Admin Portal.

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Withdrawals and refunds

If you decide a student is not sufficiently prepared to take an exam in January, and you wish to withdraw an entry at short notice, we will offer a refund. If your students are not able to take the January exam due to illness or injury and you intend to reschedule the exam for June 2022 instead, we will also refund you. If you decide to take the option of requesting special consideration for those eligible students taking January 2022 exams, which will lead to an assessed grade, this is not refundable because your student receives a grade. For this option, your entry for the January 2022 series needs to remain in place otherwise we will not be able to award an assessed grade for a student. Please see our FAQ for more details.

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Supporting you

Extra support for exams officers from OCR; our emergency exams officer contingency service

We know exams officers are essential to the running of exams. With this in mind, we want to provide an additional support service for schools and colleges who find themselves unexpectedly without an exams officer. Call our Customer Support Centres (details below) and let us know you have an ‘emergency exams officer’. We’ll answer any initial queries you have and then put you in touch with a customer support manager who will make sure you have everything you need to manage the exam series.

If you, or anyone in your school or college, has any questions about running our January exams, please get in touch with us. We’re here to support you on 01223 553998 or support@ocr.org.uk.

We wish your students all the best for their exams.

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