Ofqual is seeking views on its plans to release advance notice of topics ahead of exams next year, suggesting the information should not be so detailed that a student could memorise an answer.

In a 10-day consultation launched today, the exams regulator has set out three principles on how it thinks the advance topics plan should work.

The exam boards will decide what information will be provided to teachers and students before exams, and they will publish it at the end of January, Ofqual said.

The regulator has acknowledged there is a risk that “students who are able to revise all of the content for a subject will be better prepared to progress to higher level study”.

But without the changes, Ofqual says students whose education has been the most disrupted by the pandemic could find it difficult to prepare for exams.

The first principle they are seeking opinions on is that the advanced information “should not be so detailed that students are able to memorise answer to write in the exam”.

They say it would give an advantage to students who are good at memorising or rote learning, and it wouldn’t be a “true assessment of the student’s ability”.

“Students might also memorise answers that someone else had written, so the exam would not be a true assessment of the student’s ability in a subject,” the consultation add.

The second is that the information should “not be so extensive or specific that it will damage a student’s progression to higher level qualifications in the summer”.

“Students will focus on the topics that they know will be covered in the exam, but there are some aspects of the content that will be important to be able to study the subject at a higher level,” the document states. “The advance information shouldn’t discourage students from investing in further learning.”

Finally, Ofqual says it should still be possible to “possible to identify stronger and weaker candidates, despite the use of advance information. It shouldn’t allow students to predict the questions and prepare answers in advance.”

Ofqual is also consulting on providing support materials, such as formula and equations, as well as any equality implications on the plans.

The consultation, which closes on December 20, can be viewed here.

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