News story

2017 National Reference Test successfully completed

Ofqual has today confirmed that the first annual National Reference Test (NRT) has been held and that the test went according to plan.

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Each year, the test is taken by a sample of students in year 11, shortly before they take their GCSEs. This year’s test was held in 341 schools between 20 February and 3 March. At each school, up to 30 students took the English test and another 30 students took the maths test. The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) carried out the testing in each school on Ofqual’s behalf and is now marking and analysing the students’ papers.

Each year a sample of students will take the same test so it will show, over time, if there is any change in how students perform at a national level. Results from the NRT will only be used to measure changes in performance nationally. There will be no results for individual students or schools

Sally Collier, Ofqual’s Chief Regulator said: “I would like to thank all the students and staff who took part in this first live National Reference Test. We have begun to analyse the results and we look forward to understanding more about how this new source of information can help us maintain standards in the reformed GCSEs.”

We would expect to see an improvement in early NRT results as student and teacher familiarity with the new English language and maths GCSEs increases. This, alongside the need to compare the performance of student cohorts over several years, means that we expect it will be 2019 at the earliest before exam boards will start to use the information from the NRT when they award GCSEs.

For more information about the National Reference Test, please read visit the NRT document collection.

For more information about the National Foundation for Educational Research please visit the NFER website.

Published 22 March 2017