COVID-19 (coronavirus) Information for schools on November 2020 and future series

Article published on 30 July

FAQ sections:

Entries and withdrawals

Forecast Grades
Additional syllabuses in November 2020
Syllabus-specific guidance


Will candidate grades or candidate marks be used to calculate Cambridge International A Level results in the November 2020 series? 

Marks from our assessments provide the most reliable and valid measure of a candidate’s performance. We will use any AS Level marks relevant to the candidate’s entry option to calculate their A Level result, in preference to using the A2 only option*. This includes AS Level marks from the June 2019 series for candidates entering staged ‘June carry-forward’ options. This is an exception to our usual 13-month rule for carrying forward marks.

We will soon be providing more detailed information about carry forwards on our website.

* The A2 only option is only available to candidates entering a ‘June carry forward’ option in the November 2020 series and who had a valid AS Level entry in the June 2020 series.

Will Cambridge International A Level candidates receive a PUM (percentage uniform mark) in the November 2020 series if candidates in their region usually do so?

Candidates completing their full A Level in the November 2020 series should be aware that PUMs will not be available under the ‘A2-only’ route. The A2-only route is available to candidates entering for the ‘June carry-forward’ option for the syllabus who have no relevant AS marks from the June 2019 series. If a candidate needs their PUM, they should enter for the linear A Level option.

Carrying forward marks to a future exam series 

As we explained previously, in the absence of AS Level marks in June 2020, students will receive a grade for Cambridge International AS Level, but will not be able to carry forward their AS Level result to A Level in the usual way. Therefore, we have put in place alternative arrangements. See our website for the latest information about carrying forward marks. 


Entries and withdrawals

Information about Statements of Entry for the November 2020 series

We are also asking you to use the electronic Statements of Entry generated on Cambridge International Direct. Please do not use hard copy Statements of Entry forms from previous exam series. Where your region has told us that it is critical for you to receive hard copy Statements of Entry, we will continue to send them to you in hard copy. 

Can I carry forward marks from June 2019 to November 2020? 

Yes, you can carry forward marks from June 2019 to November 2020 if the syllabus has a carry-forward entry option for that component. This is an exemption from our usual 13-month rule and applies to all candidates entering in November 2020. This exemption applies for the November 2020 series only.

Note that a June 2020 entry is a requirement for candidates intending to access the ‘A2-only’ route for A Level in November 2020, March 2021 or June 2021. Candidates who withdrew from the June 2020 series at any time will not have this option.

We have provided detailed information about carrying forward marks here.

How will Cambridge International AS Level grades from June 2020 count towards Cambridge International A Level in future series?

For students who want to carry forward their Cambridge International AS Level result from June 2020 to a future Cambridge International A Level, we have looked at a specific technical challenge: it is the AS Level mark students normally carry forward, not the grade. In the absence of AS Level marks in June 2020, students will receive an AS Level grade but will not be able to carry forward their AS Level result to A Level in the usual way. Please see the update provided to schools on 21 April for further information.

Information on Cambridge ICE

This update is for students for whom the November 2020 exam series would normally be the last series for which they can sit exams and gain their Cambridge ICE certificate. 

We recognise that some schools may need to plan their academic year differently due to the impact of Covid-19, and therefore we will allow an exemption for Cambridge ICE students to the usual rule that candidates must complete all elements within 13 months. 

The exemption will apply if November 2020 would have been the final series for the candidate for ICE (that is, they are also using syllabus grades from a previous series within the last 13 months). 

If candidates meets this criteria, they can count grades awarded from the November 2021 series instead of November 2020 series.   It is still the case that the candidates may only use grades from a maximum of two series.  

If a candidate has already been entered for November 2020 you have until 16 August to withdraw them and receive a credit for the entry. 

This exemption is in addition to our previous announcement for candidates who were due to complete Cambridge ICE in June 2020 series. 


If we have to withdraw our students for November 2020 because of the pandemic, will we have to pay the annual centre fees that we would normally be exempt from in 2020?

Entry fees for any candidates that you withdraw from the November 2020 series will not count towards the fee waiver scheme. This means that if your centre does not reach the waiver threshold without the withdrawn entry fees, you will be charged the Cambridge Secondary and Advanced programme fee.

We will provide you with a credit for any withdrawn entries, which you can use to enter candidates in future exam series.


Forecast Grades

Information about submitting forecast grades and internally assessed marks in the November 2020 series.

We have changed some of our processes to help us meet the challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and to support schools working remotely. As part of these changes, we are asking you to use electronic methods to minimise delays and allow us to prioritise our confidential despatches. 

Therefore, for the November 2020 series, you need to submit your forecast grades and internally assessed marks electronically using Cambridge International Direct. This means your pre-exam despatch will not include Forecast grade forms or Internal assessment mark sheets. We will send your pre-exam despatch in mid to late September. 



What are your plans for the November 2020 exam series?
We are running exams for the November 2020 series where schools believe it is safe and where they have the necessary permissions from government authorities. We believe exams remain the fairest and most reliable way to assess student achievement and our schools are telling us they want to hold exams if they can. 

You can find extensive guidance here on what to do if your candidates are able to complete some assessment components but not others.

We will not be running an alternative system to exams using predicted grades.

Advice on running exams in your centre in November 2020

Our guide for exams officers and heads of centre will help you run November 2020 exams safely and securely. An updated version of the guide is on our website:

Our key priorities remain the same - to keep students and teachers safe, and help students get on with their educational journeys as soon as possible.

What can I do if I can’t fit all my candidates in one room for an exam? 

If social distancing restrictions mean that you can’t fit all of your candidates into one exam room, you may find this guidance helpful. It outlines four possible options you can choose to take, each one with further information and next steps. For more information, please see our Guide to running November 2020 exams here

If you have any further questions that are not answered by this guidance, please contact us. 

Will you accept late requests for modified question papers?
Due to the time it takes to produce modified papers, we cannot accept any late requests. Every modified paper is made to order, to make sure that each candidate's specific needs are met. Our deadline of 1 July 2020 reflects the time it takes to produce and deliver these papers. Due to COVID-19, we have also faced our own restrictions and limitations in the production of some of our modified papers. As a result, we are unable to guarantee some of the modifications we have previously been able to produce.

If we cannot fulfil your request, we may be able to work with you to find an alternative. Please contact us.



Can I use non – examination work prepared for June 2020 in the November 2020 series?

Candidates’ work prepared for non-examination assessments, such as coursework or speaking tests in the June 2020 series, may be submitted instead for the November 2020 series. This only applies where the component did not have pre-release materials or early exam stimulus materials that are unique to each exam series. Schools must make sure they have followed the guidance for non-examination assessments (Handbook, section 3.4).

This means you will not be able to submit work that was originally produced for June 2020, and which used unique June 2020 stimulus material or exam paper, for a November 2020 entry.

The syllabuses and components with series specific assessment materials can be found here.

The syllabuses and components with NO series specific assessment materials can be found here.


Additional syllabuses in November 2020

Further to our communications and requests from schools, we are pleased to confirm that we will provide a number of syllabuses in the November 2020 series that are normally only available in the June series. The list of syllabuses is provided below.

We understand that some students will have hoped to see more syllabuses here. However, we have reviewed this in depth, and considered which syllabuses have the most entries and what we can realistically achieve in the short time available.

You can now make entries for these additional syllabuses as well as all syllabuses that are usually offered in November.

Additional syllabuses available for November 2020 series:

Syllabus Syllabus Code Administrative zone(s)*
Cambridge IGCSE Bahasa Indonesia 0538 4 and 5
Cambridge IGCSE Chinese - First Language 0509 4 and 5
Cambridge IGCSE Chinese - Second Language 0523 4 and 5
Cambridge IGCSE Malay 0546 4 and 5
Cambridge IGCSE Mandarin Chinese - Foreign Language 0547 4 and 5
Cambridge IGCSE Pakistan Studies 0448 3 and 4
Cambridge O Level Global Perspectives 2069 4
Cambridge O Level Urdu - First Language 3247 3 and 4


* Each location is allocated to one of six administrative zones. You must ensure the additional syllabuses listed above are available for your administrative zone by checking the final column of the table. Please check your administrative zone and key time


The additional November syllabus that my candidates want to take is not available in our centre’s administrative zone. What can we do?

It may be possible for your candidates to sit a syllabus that has been added to the November 2020 series, even if it is not available in your centre’s administrative zone. You should apply directly to our Compliance team, who will consider each application on a case by case basis.

Be aware that entries for additional November 2020 syllabuses in another administrative zone will only be considered if the syllabus would normally be available in the June series in your own administrative zone.


Syllabus-specific guidance

Can we have more slides so candidates do not have to share slides due to Covid-19.

For Biology practicals in November 2020 one slide will be issued to share between two candidates, as normal. You should follow your local regulations to make sure this is done safely, for example you may wish to clean equipment between candidates using it, or encourage candidates to wash their hands or use hand sanitiser before and after using any equipment, as you would for classroom teaching of practical work.  

Please refer to our Guidance on running exams in the November 2020 series for more advice on running practical exams during the pandemic.

Some 2021 syllabuses have new or different content. Can candidates entering exams in 2021 continue to study the syllabus content specified in the 2020 syllabus, instead of studying the content of the 2021 syllabus?

You should prepare candidates entering the November 2020 exam series  using the prescribed content (for example, set texts, prescribed topics, etc.) shown in the syllabus for November 2020; and you should prepare candidates entering any of the 2021 exam series (March/June/November) using the prescribed content shown in the syllabus for each appropriate 2021 series. This is because some schools have already started preparing candidates for the November 2020 and the 2021 exam series using the prescribed content in the syllabus that is applicable to each of these series.

You can find support materials on the School Support Hub, including Schemes of Work (SOW) to help your teaching. These provide detailed advice on lesson activities and appropriate resources for the entire syllabus content. 

Coursework, speaking and practical components: advice for November 2020

We are aware that candidates are working hard to prepare their coursework and develop their practical and speaking skills for the November 2020 exam series. Some schools are now reopening but many others are still closed. We have updated our guidance so teachers can apply the information below to specific components.

Please note, in addition to the guidance we have prepared, you must also follow local regulations for safeguarding and Covid-19.

Can my students complete their coursework components remotely?

In some circumstances, candidates working remotely will be able to practise the skills they need to demonstrate in their coursework, practical or speaking but will not be able to produce the work that they will submit for final assessment because of circumstances caused by Covid 19.

  • For components where it is still possible for candidates to meet all the assessment objectives, we have determined adjustments to the requirements of the component. This should make it easier for candidates to produce work for the component in the current circumstances.
  • Where a component adjustment is not possible, we have explained what you can do if your candidate is not able to complete the component.

To support you, and to make sure as many of your candidates as possible can meet all the requirements of their chosen syllabus, we have put together some information and guidance. Please read this advice carefully. You should also refer to our updated Special Consideration guidance. 

For other coursework, speaking and practical components, teachers and students will be able to adjust their approach to the course or their administration of the test to meet the requirements of the component. This applies to components in listed in this document.

The FAQs and syllabus-specific guidance below are relevant to components where candidates will be able to work from home on coursework tasks for final assessment. The guidance covers how to authenticate work submitted remotely for final assessment, and ways to support students as they complete assessed work from home.

How can candidates complete their coursework from home and without teacher supervision?

You must be in a position to authenticate your candidates’ coursework when you submit it. To help you do this remotely, you can:

  • check in with your candidates regularly about their progress
  • ask candidates to submit their draft work electronically for you to review, where appropriate
  • supervise your candidates’ work using online systems with video capability provided you have been given the necessary permissions to do this
  • refer to our advice about plagiarism.

How can candidates conduct their coursework research, surveys or interviews from home?

Where appropriate and in compliance with local safeguarding requirements, candidates can conduct research, surveys and interviews online instead of face-to-face. There are also many online resources that can help candidates to gather information for their coursework from home, for example, academic journals and fieldwork tutorials. Some art collections and museums can be visited online. Teachers may signpost subject-specific resources that will allow candidates to conduct research, complete surveys and practise key skills to help them with their coursework. 

What can candidates do at home to practise speaking skills in preparation for their speaking tests?

Candidates can practise the skills required for their speaking tests from home, for example, by having online conversations with teachers and other candidates via a video conferencing platform.

If candidates intend to wear a mask during their actual speaking test, they could practise having conversations wearing a mask. This might mean that candidates will need to adjust the way they speak, for example, they might need to speak more loudly and clearly to make sure that they can be understood.

For speaking tests without confidential material, can we administer the test remotely?

For these components, you should try to administer the speaking test as normal, according to the syllabus requirements. Where this is not possible, you can conduct the test remotely, but you must make sure that the candidate does not have access to any materials not normally permitted in the speaking test. To do this, you will need to use a video call to check the materials the candidate has access to for the test. Once you have completed this check, you can conduct the rest of the test as an audio call.

You must record each speaking test you conduct remotely, as you normally would, and compile all candidate recordings in a single submission to Cambridge for external moderation. Submit the speaking test recordings to us in a file format specified on the samples database for the component.

For speaking tests with confidential material, can we administer the test remotely?

You will not be able to administer speaking tests with confidential material remotely. We will be giving you more information about these speaking tests in our next update.

Can I have an extension to conduct the speaking tests?

You should conduct the speaking tests within the published test window. We know that, in some cases, that you may need more time to complete your tests, and so we will not require you to complete the tests within as short a timeframe as possible, however, you must administer all of your speaking tests within the test window for the component.

How can candidates prepare for their science practical exams?

Practical skills should be taught and practised as an integral part of all science courses. We recommend that all candidates, whether they are taking practical exams or ‘alternative to practical’ exams, should prepare by doing practical experiments at school, although we are aware that many candidates are not able to carry out practical work in school at the moment.

However, candidates can practise many practical skills remotely. Teachers can use sample results from experiments that were carried out in class to allow candidates to practise skills such as graph plotting, data analysis and drawing conclusions. Teachers can also use the experiments described in past papers to develop candidates’ planning and evaluation skills.

Schools may also choose to prioritise the teaching of theory work while closed, and then prioritise practical work when they are able to reopen. We will give you more information about science practical exams in our next update.

Where can I find information on the Cambridge IPQ for November 2020 series?

You can find guidance for running exams in the November 2020 series on our website, or the Guide to running November 2020 exams.

Or for more specific information about Cambridge IPQ, visit our website.

Where can I find information about running Cambridge Checkpoint for the October 2020 series?

As with all of our qualifications, the most important factor when running any exam is that you and your candidates are safe. Your first consideration should be whether you can safely run Cambridge Checkpoint in your school while meeting our required regulations. 

You can find more information about safely running exams in the November series here.  You should use this guidance to make any appropriate plans. If you need any further guidance, please contact us.

If candidates cannot take exams in November 2020 and have to defer to a series in 2021, which syllabus will the 2021 exams series be based on?

Candidates should prepare for the syllabus that is appropriate for the series in which they want to sit the exam. Planning for the assessment of a syllabus begins three years before a given exam series. The papers for 2021 have already been set and any amendments made at this stage would not be able to pass through the standard quality assurance processes set out in our Code of Practice.


Adjustments to components

There may be adjustments for certain components for some syllabuses. For further information please see the adjustments to components for November 2020 on our website here, and June 2021 on our website here.

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