Dubai: GCSE, A-level exams to be held in-person; experts from UK to ensure student's readiness

Authorities reiterate there has been a focus on pupils finding the right balance between exam preparation and rest

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Nandini Sircar

Published: Wed 16 Mar 2022, 5:06 PM

Last updated: Wed 16 Mar 2022, 10:14 PM

Experts from the UK will be conducting workshops with students in few Dubai schools to ensure exam readiness ahead of the GCSE and A-level exams that will be conducted offline this summer.

The GCSE, AS and A-level exams were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 because of the disruption to students’ education caused by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Matthew Tompkins, Principal/CEO, GEMS FirstPoint School – The Villa, said, “Meticulous planning and preparation have been undertaken in the build-up to this year’s GCSE and A-level exams. Teachers have invested a great deal of time identifying any gaps in students’ learning and providing a personalized approach to all students’ revision.”

“Next week, we have an expert travelling from the UK to run workshops with students on the best way to deal with the pressure of exams. We have also spent additional time preparing students for the rigours of exams, especially in view of the fact that our A-level students who will sit for their final exams this year are also the year group that did not write their final GCSE exams due to the pandemic.”

School authorities reiterate there has been a focus on students finding the right balance between exam preparation and rest, creating a productive environment that supports sustained improvement.

Simon Jodrell, Principal, Dubai British School EH said, “Students in Years 11 and 13 are preparing for an expected examination season this summer. Course and syllabus coverage is being completed alongside preparatory guidance for managing an examination period.

"This includes practical advice on subject content review, time management and the study of past papers to gain an understanding of question style and content.”

Mock examinations

Some schools are even organising two sets of mock examinations ahead of the final exams in May-June.

Additionally, intervention classes are being organised, giving students confidence and assurance in their abilities as for many, this will be their first experience of formal examinations.

Jemma Arnold, Head of Year 11, GEMS Wellington Academy – Silicon Oasis, opined, “The main challenge we faced in Year 11 this year was that their GCSE programme of study was impacted midway through Year 9 when the pandemic began.

"We took this into account when planning this academic year and addressed this by adding two periods of mock examinations, so the students had ample opportunity to practice being exposed to exam conditions ahead of their external summer entries.

"The feedback to this approach has been overwhelmingly positive from students and their parents, and we are also delighted that our pupils were able to build new coping skills and build their resilience along the way.”

Alongside these two mock exam periods, a few schools are also organising “mock results day.”

“Students were given a printed statement of results, like what they will receive in August. We again saw this as an opportunity to allow the students to practice going through the experience and allowing themselves the chance to deal with all the emotions that are associated with such a momentous occasion,” adds Arnold.


To counter the extra time afforded to mock exams, some schools will have their students in school till the time exam session starts.

Matthew James, Head of Post-16 and Assistant Principal, GEMS Wellington Academy – Silicon Oasis, said, “Normal practice for a school is to conduct one mock exam, but we felt it was pertinent to give students more than one chance to know what it felt to sit in exam conditions, as they have missed this experience over the last two years.

“Traditionally, schools would begin study leave for a week or fortnight before exams, but we are keeping our students in school this year so they can have access to their class teachers right up until their exams.”

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