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21 December 2022
Our commitment to continuous improvement of assessment accessibility
Please pass this message on to your Head of Science or relevant department head.

Dear Head of Science,

We wrote to you in October to tell you about some changes we planned for our IAL Physics assessments in January 2023. Our IAL Physics Exemplars outlined these changes; you can find them here

For the May/June 2023 exam series, our improvement activities continued to focus on assessment accessibility for IAL Physics, and a review of our papers across the full International Advanced Level Science suite of qualifications.

As a result of these activities, additional improvements for IAL Physics in May/June 2023 are outlined in the following tables. 

What you said

What we changed for January 2023 and all future series

Additional improvements in IAL Physics for May/June 2023

In IAL Physics, it isn’t always clear in some questions what content is being assessed.

We have now added a sentence within some of our longer context questions, outlining the Physics content to be considered when answering the question.

Where appropriate, our Physics exam papers will include questions divided into parts. It will be clearer where marks can be achieved, and some questions can be attempted in smaller pieces.

You can see examples of what this will look like here 

Following a review of our IAL Science question papers, we targeted greater consistency across the suite of Science qualifications for our extended open response and linkage questions.

Where appropriate, additional scaffolding will be added to our extended open response and linkage questions, to help students access the questions and be clear about the Physics content being assessed.

In IAL Physics, the contexts used in papers are too long and UK centric.

We have introduced new guidelines to ensure that the context-based questions are written concisely.

We have reviewed the contexts we use in assessments to ensure these better represent the students taking the qualifications.

We are continuing to monitor the clarity of language and the layout used in our context-based questions.

All Physics question papers are now reviewed by a language specialist with science subject knowledge, to ensure the language and contexts used are accessible and appropriate for your students.

In Section B, question contexts increase in demand appropriately, so that, where possible, more extended contexts are reserved for later in the question paper.

What you said

What we have changed for all future series

Assessments do not represent our diverse range of students.

All assessment writers and examining teams are taking part in our new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training program to ensure our assessments are representative and accessible to all students taking these qualifications.

In 2021, Pearson developed the Global Content & Editorial Policy (GCEP) and Diversity Guidance Sets as resources to support anyone producing or reviewing content in Pearson. Training on the DE&I concepts and how to use these resources is being rolled out to Assessment Associates across the General Qualification division through interactive workshops and focused sessions which allow for subject-specific discussion and support.

Additionally, the production of diverse and inclusive content for our markets across the world is further supported by guidance on global cultural sensitives.

At Pearson, we regularly review our qualifications and gather feedback from teachers to make sure they continue to be the best they can be, and to ensure we support our teachers and students to perform to the best of their ability. We welcome this feedback and strive to incorporate it wherever possible, to ensure our assessments continue to differentiate, allow students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills, and get a grade that reflects this.

After both our January and May/June 2023 exam series, we will send surveys to you, our International Science teachers, to enable you to feedback on our improvement work in IAL Physics.

This feedback will inform further assessment accessibility improvement projects in the future and help us to evaluate the accessibility improvements we have made. 

We will keep you informed every step of the way as we continue our commitment to assessment accessibility and making our IAL Science suite the very best it can be.

Kind regards,

IAL Science Assessment and Product Team

Pearson Customer Services

The Lighthouse, Manchester, M50 3BF