A Star Equivalency has worked with senior GCSE examiners to help devise specifications that closely follow the current GCSE curriculum with alterations that make the exams more accessible to those who may not have studied academic subjects for a while and need to gain the qualifications in a shorter time frame. The following, details what is included in each examination series:
About A Star Equivalency
The following key areas detail our GCSE equivalency testing service. This enables training and course providers to understand our exam process and procedure and demonstrates how we maintain a high level of service for all of the people we work with.
- The Equivalency Examinations
- The Support
- The Compliance and Security
- A sample of the ITT providers we currently serve.
Please note we have recently updated our service details of which can be found in this article. Please note all further information on this page has also been updated and is still relevant.
- Independent senior examiners benchmark our equivalency exams and marking schemes covering the assessment objectives set out in recognised UK exam board GCSE specifications.
- All current Combined Science board specifications are double award while students for primary teaching courses require single award. We therefore benchmark against the newest Internationally Combined Science Single award GCSE from Edexcel.
- Exams are written, released and refreshed in batches throughout the year.
- Our exam system logs exams used and prevents a resit of the same paper.
English Language GCSE (9-1 tier)
This is benchmarked to this specification: AQA 8700 GCSE ENGLISH LANGUAGE (For teaching from September 2015 onwards for exams in May/June 2017 onwards) (Single tier 1-9)
Mathematics GCSE (separate Foundation and higher tiers)
This is benchmarked to this specification: Pearson Edexcel GCSE Maths Level 1/Level 2 GCSE (9-1) (1MA1) (2015 first certification 2017). (Foundation 1-5 and Higher 4-9)
- Foundation & Higher specifications
- Foundation Question Paper
- Foundation Mark Scheme
- Higher Question Paper
- Higher Mark Scheme
Combined Science Single award GCSE
This is benchmarked to this specification: Pearson Edexcel International GCSE in Science (Single Award) (4SS0) (from April 2021) (First teaching from September 2017 and the first certification from June 2019) (Single Tier 1-9).
This is benchmarked to this specification: Pearson Edexcel International GCSE in Biology (4BI1)) (For first teaching September 2017 First examination June 2019 Issue 2) (Single Tier 1-9)
To assist candidates to meet the required standards to pass the GCSE equivalencies we include the following with every exam booking:
- A clear, detailed curriculum outline and assessment objectives.
- Samples exam papers and access to free resources to help revision.
- Free weekly live, subject specific coaching webinars to support learners.
- A dedicated course for those who require additional support and input.
- A 6 day a week; phone, live chat and email support service so learners can easily communicate with our service.
- Multiple weekly examinations slots including evening and weekend times to offer as much flexibility to learners as possible.
- Results are released promptly and in some cases are returned within 48 hours.
- Support to examinees with disabilities through complying with JCQ policy Adjustments for candidates with disabilities and learning difficulties (also used by Edexcel and AQA)
Our own Compliance
- UK Provider Reference Number (UKPRN) is: 10087881.
- ICO (Information Commission Certificate) registration certificate Reference: Z9900794
- Terms of service – from website click this link
- Public liability — Superscript Policy Number DAV112463
Equivalency Exam Compliance
- High quality, professional GCSE examinations, accurately benchmarked to the latest UK recognised GCSE board specifications.
- Professional administration of exams under JCQ (Joint Council for Qualifications) regulations using trained invigilators who have experience of invigilating Ofqual regulated examinations.
- Marking is carried out by a team of independent markers who have/or currently mark for the exam boards.
- As new exam papers are released, they are standardized before pass marks are set to ensure each cohort of learners is fairly and consistently assessed.
- Pre-March 18th, 2021 certificates include a verification code this code can be checked by calling 0203 488 0960
- Post-March 18th, 2021 new E-certificates have a verification code that can be checked online here
We do not keep an active register of the Initial Teacher Training Providers currently using our services. Instead, we ask candidates to check with their providers before taking any exam and we have focused on providing the very best equivalency service. However, we have been doing this for almost 20 years and most ITT providers use our service and there are too many to list so the following is simply a sample of providers who actively encourage their prospective trainees to use our service.
(Please note this list refers to teacher training courses only)
Below is a sample of Universities our learners have applied too:
- Bishop Grosseteste University
- Bradford College
- Bristol, University of the West of England (UWE)
- Brunel University London
- Buckinghamshire New University
- Canterbury Christ Church University
- Cardiff Metropolitan University
- Cardiff University
- Coventry University
- Cranford Community College
- Croydon University
- Durham University
- Goldsmiths, University of London
- King’s College London
- Kingston University London
- Leeds Beckett University
- Leeds Trinity University
- Liverpool Hope University
- Liverpool John Moores University
- London Metropolitan University
- London School of Jewish Studies (LSJS)
- London South Bank University
- Manchester Metropolitan University
- Middlesex University, London
- Newcastle University
- Newman University, Birmingham
- North Essex Teacher Training
- Northumbria University
- Nottingham Trent University
- Open University
- Oxford Brookes University
- Plymouth Marjon University
- Sheffield Hallam University
- St Mary’s University, Twickenham
- The University of Birmingham
- The University of Gloucestershire
- The University of Huddersfield
- The University of Manchester
- The University of Nottingham
- The University of Sheffield
- The University of Warwick
- UCL (University College London)
- University College Birmingham
- University of Bedfordshire
- University of Birmingham Dubai
- University of Brighton
- University of Chester
- University of Chichester
- University of Cumbria
- University of Derby
- University of East London
- University of Exeter
- University of Gloucester
- University of Greenwich
- University of Hertfordshire
- University of Hull
- University of Leeds
- University of Leicester
- University of Northampton
- University of Oxford
- University of Plymouth
- University of Portsmouth
- University of Reading
- University of Roehampton
- University of South Wales
- University of Southampton
- University of Strathclyde, Glasgow
- University of Sunderland
- University of Sussex
- University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD Swansea)
- University of Warwick
- University of Westminister
- University of Winchester
- University of Wolverhampton
- West London University
- Winchester University
- Wrexham Glyndwr University
- York St John University
Below is a sample of SCITTs and Other Teacher Training Providers our learners have applied too:
- 2Schools Consortium
- Academies Enterprise Trust – Initial Teacher Training
- Active Teacher Training – The Active Learning Trust
- Alban Federation – School-based training
- Ark Teacher Training
- Astra SCITT
- BEC Teacher Training
- Best Practice Network
- Blue Sky Teaching School Alliance
- Bournemouth Poole & Dorset Secondary Training Partnership
- Bradford Birth to 19 SCITT
- Bristol Primary Training and Support Alliance
- Catholic Teaching Schools Alliance Hampshire (CTSA)
- Chepping View Primary Academy SCITT
- Chiltern Training Group (SCITT)
- Colchester Teacher Training Consortium
- Coleg Gwent college
- Cornwall School Centred Initial Teacher Training (Scitt)
- Cumbria Primary Teacher Training (SCITT)
- Doncaster ITT Partnership
- e-Qualitas Teacher Training
- Ealing Primary Teaching School Alliance
- East London Alliance Scitt (School Direct)
- East of England Teacher Training
- East Sussex Teacher Training Partnership
- Essex & Thames Primary SCITT
- Essex Primary SCITT
- Essex Schools ITT Partnership
- Exceed in Bradford Teaching School Alliance
- Exeter College
- FIPC School Direct
- Forest Independent Primary Collegiate (Scitt)
- Future Teacher Training
- Glyn Surrey Scitt
- Haberdashers’ Academies Trust South (TES Institute)
- Harris Federation
- Haybridge Alliance SCITT
- Henry Maynard Training E17
- Hillingdon Scitt
- Hull SCITT
- Ilkley All Saints’ Teacher Training Partnership
- Inspiration Teaching Trust
- KMT Teacher Training
- Lampton LWA Scitt
- Landau Forte College Derby SCITT
- LDE SCITT
- Learners First Schools Partnership
- Leicester and Leicestershire Scitt
- Leicestershire Secondary SCITT
- Lincolnshire Teaching School Alliance SCITT
- London East Teacher Training Alliance
- Manchester Nexus SCITT
- Medway Valley Training Partnership
- Mersey Boroughs ITT Partnership
- Mid Essex Initial Teacher Training
- National Institute for Teaching and Education
- National Maths and Physics SCITT
- NML SCITT (National Modern Languages SCITT)
- North Wiltshire SCITT
- Nottinghamshire TORCH SCITT
- Partnership London SCITT
- PCP SCITT – School-Centred Initial Teacher Training
- Pickwick Academy
- Pimlico Academy
- Plymouth Teachers and School Alliance
- Primary Catholic Partnership (SCITT)
- Red Kite Teacher Training
- SAF ITT
- School Direct Teacher Training – Ashmount School
- Sheffield SCITT
- Somerset SCITT Consortium
- South West Teacher Training (SCITT)
- Stranmillis University College
- Suffolk and Norfolk Primary Scitt
- Surrey and South Farnham Scitt
- Teach East London Teaching School Alliance (TELTSA)
- Teaching London: LDBS SCITT
- The Arthur Terry School Scitt
- The Beauchamp College
- The Bedfordshire Schools’ Training Partnership
- The Buckingham Partnership SCITT
- The Cherwell OTSA SCITT
- The Coventry Scitt
- The Kemnal Academies Trust
- The South Downs Scitt
- The Tommy Flowers SCITT Milton Keynes
- The West London Teaching Schools Alliance
- Two Mile Ash ITT Partnership
- Two Mile Ash School
- Wandle Teaching School Alliance
- West Midlands Consortium
- Wildern Partnership (Scitt)
- Yeovil Area Teacher Training Alliance
- Yorkshire and Humber Teacher Training
- Yorkshire Wolds Teacher Training
More information about our services can be viewed on our website https://astarequivalency.co.uk.
5. Malpractice prevention of online exams
How A Star Equivalency prevents students from cheating AI Systems
New software tools such as ChatGPT by OpenAI present new and very real challenges for examiners to ensure academic honesty during exams. Traditional plagiarism detection tools do not (yet) detect these AI-generated texts creating potential opportunities for student cheating with ChatGPT. ChatGPT launched in December 2022, allowing students to type a request and have AI automatically generate essays, critical analyses, etc. on any number of topics with shockingly high quality in seconds.
A Star Equivalency uses a platform built by examiners for the realities of the classroom. Ensuring the integrity of online exams and preventing malpractice is a big priority for us. The platform has multiple layers of protection built-in, and with the addition of invigilator presence we mitigate and reduce the potential risks posed by software tools. Additionally, we continuously review and update our security protocols to stay current with the latest cheating methods.
4 ways A Star Equivalency prevents students from answering exam questions with AI Systems
- The format of examination questions makes it difficult for students to effectively gain any advantage by utilising these software tools in the first place.
- The first layer of security includes blocking copy-paste. This removes the ability for students to copy and paste text during an exam, eliminating the possibility of students sharing answers with each other or directly using solutions generated by ChatGPT. Additionally, we use advanced algorithms to detect when auto-typing software is being used and alerts the invigilator of suspicious activity.
- The second layer is exam focus, which prevents students from using other software during an exam. Professional Invigilators are alerted whenever a student leaves focus, giving them the opportunity to monitor students during the exam and detect any unwanted behaviour. Additionally, the platform has a high-security mode that makes it even harder for students to cheat. In this mode, students are blocked from leaving the exam window until the exam is submitted. This mode completely prevents students from accessing other apps or websites during the exam.
- The third and final layer is our advanced back-end controls. The examination servers silently detect suspicious student activity. When this occurs, invigilators are informed about the students’ attempt, how they tried to cheat and the invigilator is given recommendations on how to prevent such attempts in the future.
Read our full malpractice information here: malpractice information
How the course and exams work
A Star Equivalency Guarantees
We guarantee the following to learners taking our exams and to training providers recommending our service:
- We offer free tutorials to all candidates using our service.
- Our examinations are overseen by qualified and experienced GCSE examiners.
- Our courses and examinations will help learners to establish a fundamental understanding of the core subjects, that is required to go onto further education.
- Our exams will always offer the most cost effective and convenient option for learners to achieve a GCSE equivalency qualification.
- Our phone lines are always open, 6 days a week up to 7pm, to provide support and guidance.
- Learners are able to book in at short notice and get their results returned faster than any other provider, without compromising on the quality or fairness of the examination.
A Star Equivalency Partners
We work with many Universities and SCITTs all around the country to help their prospective trainee teachers, nurses and other professions meet the required standards in maths, English and science. We have some partners who recommend the service with learners coming to us directly, where other Universities go for a support package that enables them to offer a paper based exam on their campus.
The key thing that our service offers to training providers is an independent way for their applicants to demonstrate the required competency in the core subjects, that will stand up to Ofsted inspection. We also have a dedicated support service for learners to take the pressure of University administration teams.
Dave Dennis B Sc, Dip Ed, NPQH
Professional Development Team