Everything You Need To Know About The Rescheduled 2020 Exams

GCSE and A Level exams in October and November? Yes, that’s right! 

On account of the total derailment of the 2020 summer exam season by the coronavirus pandemic, exam boards in England have decided to offer students the option to sit their tests in the autumn instead. 

In this blog post, our exam experts are sharing their knowledge with parents and students so that you can feel informed and prepared despite the unusual nature of the situation!

Weren’t students awarded their grades in August anyway?

Of course, large numbers of registered students received grades for the cancelled exams anyway, but a small minority (homeschooled students and independent candidates for example) missed out.   

For these students, they must take in-person exams in order to progress to the next stage of their education. 

The other major group of students who will be sitting these autumn exams are those who were unhappy with the grades they were awarded by their teachers. These autumn exams offer them the chance to prove their true ability, and to make their university or college applications more attractive.

Is it safe for students to take in-person exams?

It’s important to remember that the risk to young people from COVID-19 is extremely low, and if they are already attending school then taking these exams will not pose any additional threat. 

However, exam centres must operate in a ‘COVID-secure’ manner in order to promote safety for all candidates and invigilators.   

This means that they must have strategies in place to enable students to safely enter and exit the exam hall, and although invigilators will be allowed to walk around the hall, there must also be points in the room where an invigilator can stand at least 2 metres from the nearest desks and see all the candidates in the room. 

For students within the same group ‘bubble’, the minimum distance between candidate chairs must be 1.25 metres. However, all other candidates, whether in different group bubbles, private candidates or those returning to school or college to take exams, should be seated 2 metres apart from each other.

Exam centres must submit candidate details to NHS Track and Trace, but face coverings will be optional.

Your FAQs answered

  • How can students register for these exams? 


The deadline has already passed for entering these exams. However, the Department for Education has confirmed that the school or college that entered the student for exams in the summer is responsible for entering the student in the autumn (if they informed their school that they wished to be entered). This includes private candidates (where they made summer exam entries by 20 March). 

  • When will the exams take place? 

AS & A level exams will take place between the 5th and 23rd of October 2020. GCSEs will take place between the 2nd and 23rd of November 2020

To view the detailed timetables, visit the website of the relevant exam board.

  • Can students enter the autumn series if they weren’t entered this summer?

No. Only students who had entered for the summer exams and students who the exam board believes had intended to take those exams can sit them in the autumn.

  • What if the student receives a lower grade in their exam than they were assigned in the summer?

The good news is that the learner can keep whichever of the grades is higher, so there’s no need to worry about dropping grades when taking an autumn exam.

How can I support my child to prepare for these exams?

Students working towards autumn exams are in a uniquely difficult position, as they are revising and practising last year’s material whilst also pushing ahead with learning new content. 

They also do not have the benefit of study leave, so must fit their revision around their normal classwork and homework. 

As a parent, you’ll want to do everything you can to support your teen in securing the best possible grades, so here are the most important things you can do to help.

  • Support with time management 

The key to getting through this term is going to be striking the right balance between preparing for the exams and staying on top of schoolwork. 

Make sure that your child’s teachers all know that they are preparing for autumn exams, then they should be more lenient with deadlines and with helping your child to prioritise the most important classwork. 

A solution which could work well for students is to designate weekdays for completing current schoolwork and saving the weekends for exam revision. Help you teen to create a revision timetable which fairly allocates time between all of their subjects and modules (whilst also fitting in some time for breaks and relaxation)!

  • Make sure they have no gaps in their knowledge 

With the disruption of summer term learning, it’s very likely that your child might have missed out on learning about certain topics or perhaps forgotten them). 

To solve this problem, find the relevant exam board syllabus and go through it with your child. If you identify any areas which they are under-confident with, explore available online resources (like Save My Exams’ revision notes and videos) to help them get to grips with the content. 

  • Find out what help the school is offering 

It’s likely that schools will be running extra classes and revision sessions for students who are taking autumn exams. However, your child might not be aware that these are happening, so as a parent you should get in touch with their Head of Year or Form Tutor to establish what support is on offer. 

If nothing has been organised, don’t feel awkward about making a request for sessions to be arranged. Many other parents will likely be grateful to you for making the effort! 

  • Organise ‘mock exams’ at home 

Completing practice papers under timed conditions is one of the best ways to get ready for an exam. 

If there is not the time or resources available for your child to do this at school, take matters into your own hands and organise these mock exams at home

You can use the past papers available on Save My Exams to deliver these mock exams; just make sure that there is time for your child to carefully go through their answers afterwards using our mark schemes and model answers.

Looking for more advice on preparing for exams and revising? Check out these expert-written blog posts

Exam Life: Combatting Revision Stress 

Revision Tips: How To Revise Efficiently

How To Support Independent Study During Term Time

If you’d like to ask a question about any of the issues covered in this blog post,  get in touch by messaging us on social media: @SaveMyExams on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.