OCR exam board launches first fully digital GCSE

The exam board OCR is to launch the first GCSE to be assessed fully on screen. Students starting the board’s Computer Science GCSE in 2025 will be able to sit digital rather than paper-based exams, allowing for ‘a more authentic assessment’ of their programming skills and knowledge. Schools will still be able to opt for paper-based assessment if they prefer that approach or do not have the digital infrastructure in place. Research by the AQA exam board last year found teachers’ biggest barrier to digital exams was a lack of infrastructure. OCR is calling for more support for schools to implement adequate digital infrastructure.

The fully on screen GCSE assessment follows what OCR called a ‘successful’ pilot of digital mock exams, where students received rapid results and feedback. In England, students have been taking digital mocks in OCR’s GCSE Computer Science for a year.

Jill Duffy, chief executive of OCR, said: ‘Students want to sit their exams in the way that they learn. Digital exams are far closer to real industry and further study experiences. We’re talking to students and teachers right now to make this work. It’s striking how readily students and teachers have taken to digital mock exams. Our pilots show that digital exams are quicker, more suited to how students learn, more sustainable and great learning tools.’ 

Tom Middlehurst, assessment specialist at the ASCL union, welcomed OCR’s plans, saying it was an ‘important step’ which made ‘perfect sense’ for computer science - as well as paving the way for other subjects. He added ’We echo OCR’s call for more support to enable all schools and colleges to be able to put in place the digital infrastructure, training and guidance to deliver digital assessment. It is a shame that the full potential of digital technology in education – in learning as well as assessment – is not currently being realised because government investment is so insufficient and piecemeal.’


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