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Students to sit GCSE English onscreen for the first time in summer 2025 with Pearson Edexcel

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Up to 125,000 students will have the option to take GCSE English Language and English Literature exams onscreen for the first time with Pearson Edexcel in summer 2025.

By 2030, Pearson Edexcel will also offer an onscreen option for all GCSEs.

Sharon Hague, Managing Director for Pearson Schools said: “This is a pivotal moment for onscreen assessment in the UK. For the first time, in summer 2025, students will be able to sit an exam in a core subject fully onscreen if they choose to do so.” 

“We’ve heard loud and clear from students and teachers that they want a choice in how they take exams. That is why we’ll offer both onscreen and paper-based exam options. Feedback shows 90% of students who have taken our international GCSEs onscreen would like more onscreen assessment in the future – and onscreen entries have doubled from year to year. Our onscreen GCSE in Computer Science has also been growing in popularity.

“This absolutely isn’t the end of pen-and-paper exams. It’s about opening up more ways for all students to best show what they know and can do. By 2030, our ambition is for all GCSEs to have both paper-based and onscreen formats.”

  • Pearson Edexcel’s onscreen GCSEs in English are ready for first assessment in summer 2025 for both GCSEs in English Language and GCSE English Literature. This is subject to Ofqual approval.
  • Schools will still have the option to offer paper-based exams as well as onscreen.
  • Pearson Edexcel’s GCSE Computer Science was the first exam to include an onscreen component in 2022 – while retaining one paper-based assessment alongside onscreen programming assessments.

Future-proof, accessible and inclusive assessment

Accessibility is a key driver for onscreen assessment. Pearson has seen more and more students using word processing for their responses to GCSE exam questions, as part of access arrangements. Almost 18% of learners in England are now recognised as having SEND and/or having an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

Sharon Hague continued: “Onscreen is a better experience for students who need accessibility adjustments. Students can zoom in to increase font size and choose colour filters onscreen during exams, something their schools or college would otherwise need to request in advance of their exams.

“Onscreen brings benefits for all students too. They can highlight and annotate information, cut and paste text and make easy edits to their answers. It’s what many students are used to doing when they work at home and in the classroom and it’s undoubtedly how they will work in their careers too.”

One student who has taken an International GCSE onscreen with Pearson Edexcel said: “It has definitely helped me feel confident with my English exam due to how much writing is required. It makes it easier to focus.”

Playwright Tanika Gupta, whose work The Empress has been part of Pearson Edexcel’s GCSE English Literature specification since 2019, said: “After much-needed breakthroughs to get more diverse drama on the national curriculum, this additional step will make sure that everyone can access and be assessed in fair ways on this exciting new material.”

Steve Rollett, Deputy Chief Executive at the Confederation of School Trusts, said “We welcome initiatives designed to increase accessibility and equity. Onscreen assessment appears to have the potential to support students, especially those with particular needs, who might struggle to access traditional paper exams. We hope this development will support children, while retaining the overall integrity of the exam system.”

Building on experience in onscreen

Pearson was the first exam board to add an onscreen component to its GCSE Computer Science in 2022.

Since then:

  • Thousands of GCSE Computer Science students have been assessed onscreen
  • 2,000 students at 15 schools have taken their high-stakes examinations in International GCSE English Language and English Literature. And this summer, students sitting International GCSEs will be able to take seven subjects onscreen with Pearson Edexcel.
  • Thousands of students in the UK have taken mock GCSEs onscreen.

Sharon Hague said: “We’ve worked hand-in-hand to support schools and colleges at every step of the way to introduce onscreen assessment. And from the very first pilot of onscreen exams internationally we have been testing, learning and refining with both students and teachers.”

“All of this also builds on more than a decade of experience we have in digital assessment.”

Pearson Edexcel’s onscreen GCSE is subject to regulatory approval by Ofqual.

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