International Approaches to Exams Given the Pandemic 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on school leaving, university entrance and other high stakes exams around the world. Many northern hemisphere countries have exams around this time of year and have had to decide what action they will take. Major decisions have been taken to continue as planned, postpone, replace or cancel exams. Those who plan to keep to their original exam timetable or have introduced a short postponement may yet have to come up with an alternative action. Where exams have been cancelled, there will still be important technical and operational judgements to be made.

International co-operation amongst exam agencies – one of IAEA’s purposes – seems very important at this challenging point in time. Some educational assessment organisations might find it helpful to see if there is something they can learn from people elsewhere in the world in similar situations. The information below is intended to permit IAEA members and others to identify organisations that are facing similar problems to their own.

If you would like to add your exams to this information, please use the format below send your text to: Dennis Opposs, Standards Chair at Ofqual,

Most exams will be easy to classify using one category but, if necessary, systems can use more than one.

A. Cancel exams. Use completed exams and/or school based assessments to produce results.
B. Cancel exams and produce results using school and college generated estimates.
C. Replace planned exams with new on-line exams taken at home.
D. Postpone exams.
E. Press ahead with exams on schedule.

The  2020 overview of Approaches to Exams Given the Pandemic can be found here



Category and summary


United Kingdom


England A level and GCSE B


Summer examinations have been cancelled. Teachers will assess the standard at which students are performing so that their school or college can submit grades to the exam board.
Teachers’ judgements should be based on a range of evidence derived from what has been taught in the classroom or through remote learning.
This evidence might include work completed during the course, mock exam results, homework or in-class tests. Teachers may also use past questions from exam boards to support their assessment.


Aga Khan University Examination Board

Secondary and Higher Secondary School Examination


Prolonged closure of schools led to the reduction of 25-30% syllabus to ensure that the academic content is manageable for schools. The examination has been postponed and will be held from July to give enough time to complete the syllabus. The examinations will consist of one-best multiple-choice questions (MCQs) only except for language examinations. The practical examinations have been replaced with alternate to practical examinations based on one-best MCQs.

South Africa

South Africa

Secondary and Higher Secondary School Examination


The examinations are normally scheduled for October-November. At this stage, the intention is to go ahead as normal. There has been no trimming of the curriculum, while in some subjects there has been a reduction in the number of school-based assessment tasks.  The supplementary examinations scheduled for May at this stage will go ahead as planned.

State NSC examinations:

IEB NSC examinations: