Some time ago, the Government announced that it wished to end the modular style of exams that allow students to take a GCSE in small “chunks”. The main exam organisations, AQA and Edexcel, have now clarified how they will operate the transition to more traditional linear courses (where the student takes all exams at the end of the GCSE course (normally Year 11). These changes will affect how many of our students take exams in the future.
Under the new arrangements, all students currently studying for a modular GCSE will be allowed to complete their courses and take exams for each unit of work (normally 3 units per GCSE). This will include all students currently in Years 10 & 11. It may also include students in Year 9 if they are taking a GCSE unit this academic year (i.e. in May or June 2012). All students who start a GCSE course from September 2012 will be required to study for the linear exam at the end of their two year course.
Will this help my child or not? This is a difficult question. By completing the entire course before taking any exams, the student is likely to gain a better understanding of how the different parts of a subject come together as a whole. On the other hand, many students struggle to retain the breadth of knowledge required from a two year course, especially in the science subjects. Other students find their first experience of GCSE exams daunting. For them the modular style is useful, as they are able to retake a failed module during the two year course. Unfortunately, from September 2014, there will be very limited opportunities to retake GCSE exams. A single resit will be permitted in Maths and English, but only in the November of each year. In all other cases, a failed exam at the end of Year 11 will require a new exam entry the following summer, often after the student has moved on to college or Sixth Form.
What can I do to help my child? The new exam arrangements mean that good preparation and revision is more important than ever. If a student is not predicted to achieve the exam results they require, then it is important to get professional help and additional tuition as soon as possible.