Cancellation of A-levels in 2020 due to COVID-19

by Dan Roberts

(This article is regularly updated as new information is released)

Due to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the government has taken steps to close schools and cancel A-level exams across the UK. We understand this is a very stressful time for students and some may feel overwhelmed and uncertain of what the next few months might look like.

Many students have already submitted their UCAS undergraduate applications for university admissions this year, and whilst we know that these announcements are in the best interests of everyone’s health, we also acknowledge that such a huge change can be a little confusing. That’s why we have put together a quick overview of the changes and what those applying for university places this year can expect. 

Schools closed and exams canceled: how will I be graded?

On 3 April Ofqual (the examinations regulator) set out details about how all school exams will be awarded this summer. Ofqual is asking all schools and colleges to provide centre assessment grades for students. These will be fair, objective and carefully considered judgements of the grades schools and colleges believe students would have been most likely to achieve if they did sit their exams and will take into account the full range of evidence. 

To make sure it’s a fair reflection of student’s performance, the grade will be based on information from teachers’ judgment, which includes evidence such as:   

  • previous attainment, including GCSEs and mocks 
  • non-exam assessment (course work) 
  • any participation in performances in subjects such as music, drama or PE
  • the grade teachers believe you would have been awarded should exams have gone ahead 
  • any other records of student performance over the course of study

Sally Collier, Chief Regulator, Ofqual, said: 

“We have worked closely with the teaching profession to ensure that what we are asking is both appropriate and manageable so that everyone can have confidence in the approach. I would like to take this opportunity to thank teachers and school leaders for making this process work for students during these very challenging times.

We have published a message to students to reassure them that we, and exam boards, will do everything we can to make sure that, as far as possible, grades are fair and that they are not disadvantaged in their progress to sixth form, college, university, apprenticeships, training or work because of these unprecedented conditions.”

When will A-level students receive their grades in 2020?

On 16 April, the Government announced that all A-level results will be published on 13 August 2020. The results will be determined by teachers’ predictions and based on an overall professional judgement, using the evidence of previous exams, coursework, essays, homework and mock exams.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said: 

“We know that this is an important milestone for students, parents and teachers and so I hope this news will provide them with some reassurance and clarity.” 

For A-level students planning to use their results to go to university, or deciding whether to defer a year, there is still uncertainty on whether university campuses will reopen in the autumn or will be teaching online.

Will my university application’ offers be affected?

Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan, has asked providers to refrain from changing their offers made to undergraduate students for the next two weeks (for example, converting conditional offers to unconditional offers or changing entry requirements). 

In an announcement made on 24 March she said: 

“As universities seek to secure attendance for the next academic year, I would ask them to refrain from changing existing offers to unconditional offers as it risks destabilising the entire admissions systems. I am asking for a two-week pause while we work with the sector over this period on admissions arrangements.”

I am currently living in student accommodation, can I leave and travel home?

On 27 March, the Department of Education advised all students currently living in student accommodation to stay in, for the safety of residents and the public. So for now, please don’t leave your student accommodation and follow the Government implemented social distancing guidelines. 

Accommodations across the UK will have different health and safety measures put in place during this period. For more information on what your accommodation is doing, we recommended getting in touch with your accommodation provider and checking their website or social media platforms for any updates.

Will securing student accommodation for 2020/21 be affected by this announcement? Will I still be able to view properties?

As of right now, student accommodation for 2020/21 applicants should not be directly affected by this announcement, with properties around England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland still available to rent. Students may be able to view properties remotely using platforms such as Skype, and Whatsapp etc. – to ensure students find suitable accommodation during this period, even if they aren’t able to visit them in person.

Where can I go to find out more information?

UCAS and the government are the best sources for the latest news on the changes to school, exams and university as a result of Coronavirus. You can check these out here:

UCAS latest updates

Department for Education guidance 

On Twitter:


World Health Organization

Public Health England

Department for Education

We want to make sure we are providing you with the most up to date information, so rest assured we will be amending this article if anything changes.

Stay safe and we wish you the best of luck in your applications this year!

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Written by Dan Roberts
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