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First GCSE to be solely digital coming in 2025

  • December 6, 2023
  • 2 min read
First GCSE to be solely digital coming in 2025

Exam board OCR has announced plans to launch the first GCSE to be assessed solely on screens in 2025. This is part of wider plans for the sector to move towards digital exams. The board said that pupils sitting GCSEs in computer science will be able to sit them digitally rather than paper-based exams, saying that this would “allow for more authentic assessment” of pupils’ programming skills. Schools would still be able to opt for paper-based exams if they “prefer that approach” or do not have the infrastructure in place, OCR said.

Regulator Ofqual is undertaking a feasibility study alongside the government on “what it would take” to make all GCSE and A-level exams “fully digital.” Research from AQA, England’s largest exam board, found that the biggest barrier was a lack of infrastructure. It has already set out a timetable for a move towards making some of its exams on screen. Subjects such as English are expected to go digital by 2030.

OCR’s announcement follows a pilot of digital mock exams in schools in 2021 and 2022 which found that 92% of students preferred typing over hand-writing their answers. Students performed similarly to those who took live assessments. It said it would look to digitising GCSEs in other subjects besides computer science.

“Students want to sit their exams in the way that they learn,” Chief Executive, Jill Duffy added. “Digital exams are far closer to real industry and further study experiences. Our pilot has shown that digital exams work. Now we have to move at pace to ensure every student can benefit from the opportunities of digital assessment.” In focus groups of around 100 teachers, it found that eight in ten felt that their school or college is “ready to deliver” digital assessments within the next two years.

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Emma Trehane

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