The frequently asked questions (FAQs) in this section cover issues arising from the change from modular to linear GCSE exams, announced by Ofqual in December 2011.

Modular exams are exams that are taken at the end of each unit or part of the GCSE, while linear exams are exams taken at the end of the course.

The questions cover the implications for the school performance tables and some related issues. Questions on the implementation of the changes are available on the Ofqual website - a link to them is provided in associated resources below.

 Will the change to end of course GCSEs affect how GCSEs are reflected in the school performance tables?

School performance tables will continue to report on all the achievements of pupils when they reach the end of Key Stage 4. This includes any GCSEs they have completed early.

For example:
Results for GCSEs completed by Y10 pupils in a modular fashion, up to and including summer 2013, will be reflected in the 2014 performance tables.

 Can students still be entered early for GCSEs?

Teachers will still decide when their pupils are ready to start and complete courses. However, pupils will have to take all their external exams in a single sitting at the end of the course.
The results of the GCSEs completed early will be reflected in the performance tables when the pupils reach the end of Key Stage 4.

Schools and teachers should be sure that early completion of GCSEs is right for individual pupils, and may find the Department’s research on the impact of early GCSE entry helpful in making their decisions. A link to this publication is available in the associated resources on this page.

 Can GCSEs still be completed in a year - especially science and additional science?

Yes - if schools and teachers think that is the right way to offer the course.

For example:
Pupils will still be able to complete science GCSE in one year at the end of Year 10 and then complete additional science at the end of Year 11.
During transition to the new arrangements, this might mean science exams are taken at the end of each unit during 2012/13, with additional science exams completed at the end of the course in summer 2014.
The results of both would be reflected in the 2014 performance tables published in January 2015.

The link to the Ofqual website in the associated resources on this page, provides a timeline for additional clarification on the timing of the implementation of these changes.

 Some GCSE exam boards are offering both linear and modular versions of their GCSEs. Can we use their modular versions?

Only linear GCSEs will be accredited for use in England. That includes linear GCSEs offered by the Welsh Exam Board, WJEC. Schools and colleges in England may not offer any modular GCSEs beyond 2013.

 Where pupils started a GCSE course in September 2011that will be taught over three years, will they have to take all their exams at the end of the course?

If the GCSE is to be completed in 2014, students will need to have taken all external exams in summer 2014.
The short-term changes to GCSEs only affect assessments, not the content of the specifications. Courses can be taught as planned.

 Will re-sits be reported in the school performance tables?

The early entry policy, which was announced in September 2013, means that from 29 September 2013, only a student’s first entry to a GCSE examination will count in their school’s performance tables.

For those who have already completed a GCSE, the performance tables will record their best result from either their previous attempt or from the next time they sit that GCSE. It does not matter whether the exams were taken at the end of each unit or at the end of the course.

Exams taken after the pupil has completed Year 11 do not count for the performance tables.

 Can the November assessment opportunity be used for first entries as well as re-sits?

Note. This answer was revised in April 2013 to reflect a decision by Ofqual. 

Yes, for the November 2013 assessment only.

From 2014, the November assessment will be for re-sits of English, English language and mathematics GCSEs. It will not be possible to use it for first entries in these subjects.