On 27 January 2012, Ofqual confirmed the changes to be made to GCSEs. The two main changes are the reintroduction of marks awarded for spelling, punctuation and grammar, and the return to end of course exams.
In terms of GCSE Maths, the important change is the end of modular assessment. Under the current arrangements, pupils taking modular GCSE Maths usually sit the first module exam in November or January of Year 10, the second module exam in the summer exam session of Year 10, and the final module in the summer exam session of Year 11. Pupils are able to re-sit module exams in order to increase their marks, and increase their final grade.
For pupils starting their GCSE course in September 2012, assessment will be at the end of the course only. Exams will be restricted to the summer exam session. For English, English Language and Maths only, there will be an opportunity to re-sit the exams in November. However, it will no longer be possible to re-sit only one module, re-sits will have to take the full GCSE exam again.
Pupils who started a three year GCSE course in September 2011 and will be expecting to apply for their GCSE award in summer 204 will have to enter all units of their modular GCSEs in summer 2014.
The marks awarded for spelling, punctuation and grammar will be introduced in English Literature, History, Geography and Religious Studies exams from January 2013.
For a full explanation of the changes, take a look at the Ofqual website, Ofqual confirms changes to GCSEs.
The decision to end modular GCSEs was made as part of the process of restoring confidenceand rigour in the GCSE exam system. The basis for the decision is the belief that the modular exam system has encouraged teaching to the test, and has led to pupils having a less comprehensive understanding of the subject. Taking exams 3 times (or more) during Years 10 and 11 has meant that a disproportionate amount of classroom time has had to be spent on exam preparation, leaving less time for the teaching of the subject, and less time for pupils to gain a full understanding.
Only time will tell if the changes have the desired effects.