COVID-19: What Does That Mean For You?

For many of you reading this article, the Coronavirus may have affected when or how you will sit you exams. On Friday 20th March, the government announced the closure of schools across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which inevitably led to a further announcement regarding the cancellation of national examinations and assessments.

So, what exactly does this mean for students sitting their GCSE or A Level examinations?

The government has stated that teachers will be asked to predict what grades their students were likely to have achieved if exams had taken place, by considering data such as previous exam results, mock exams and other internal assessments/schoolwork.

Grades are expected to be formalised in July 2020 (instead of August, when exam results would have normally been released); those who do not think that their mark is correct will have the option of appealing. If you choose to avoid this, candidates may also sit an exam when schools and colleges re-open. Alternatively, candidates may choose to sit their exams in Summer 2021; although this may mean that you would not be able to join university with your expected cohort (this is almost like taking a gap-year).

Exam boards will not be issuing papers for this summer’s GCSE, AS and A levels so there would be no opportunity to sit them anywhere in the country.

The calculated grades will be worth the same as formal grades achieved had you sat an exam, therefore your grades this year would be treated as such by universities and other employers. Universities will be flexible, and representatives have suggested that they will do everything they can to support those with offers who are progressing to university. It is unlikely that the admissions cycle will be massively affected.

We understand that there have been many concerns about this arrangement negatively affecting those from disadvantaged backgrounds, who may have been underpredicted. Other concerns were from students who did not know at the time that their mock exam results may be used as their final mark. For these students, it is important to remember that mock exams will only be one of the pieces of evidence which are considered when teachers determine final grades; students won’t necessarily get their UCAS predicted grade, nor will they certainly be awarded with the grade they achieved in their mocks.

Many medicine and dentistry applicants may have also applied to a fifth-choice university through UCAS, with some having received unconditional offers from these places. Although these are unprecedented times, students should feel no pressure to accept these offers if they were not originally their first/insurance choice, as they will be awarded with formal grades for the exams they would have otherwise taken.

Currently, COVID-19 is not expected to affect the BMAT September test session; however, there is less certainty over the way the UCAT is tested. In an update from the 19th March, the UCAT consortium stated that they cannot predict when test centres in the UK/internationally will be operating as normal; timelines for registration, booking and testing will probably shift from those which usually apply.

Nonetheless, Step2Med encourages that anyone wishing to take these admission tests still prepare as they normally would; after all, practice makes perfect!

Have a good break, stay safe and keep working on those applications!

Most importantly, look after your well-being - in the coming weeks we'll be writing more articles on this!

As always, please be in touch with any questions or worries that you have!

This piece was written by our resident tutor, Niha Hussain.

This piece was reviewed by Dr Pooja Devani, @step2med.

As always, please do not hesitate to email us for advice on hello@step2med.co.uk

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