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  • Writer's pictureTom Hopkins-Burke

Pearson Edexcel announces changes to GCSE History exams from 2025

Updated: Feb 27

Have you checked out the Teachers Talk Radio History Collection?


The History Collection is a group of four shows from the TTR archive all about teaching History. It includes:


  • Teaching Primary History

  • Teaching difficult History

  • Stonehenge: from lesson planning to educational visit

  • Is there a place for fiction in History


Listen back on demand to all four shows here.


 

Pearson Edexcel has announced changes to GCSE History exams to give students a greater choice of questions and extra time on all papers.


The changes come following criticism of Edexcel's Weimar and Nazi Germany (Paper 3) last summer, with teachers raising concerns about material that was said to go beyond the specification, and of Medicine in Britain (Paper 1) for containing an incorrect date.


A list of changes made to Pearson Edexcel GCSE History from summer 2025

Students will be given an additional 20 minutes across the three papers:


  • Paper 1: 1 hour 20 minutes (increase of 5 minutes)

  • Paper 2: 1 hour 50 minutes (increase of 5 minutes)

  • Paper 3: 1 hour 30 minutes (increase of 10 minutes)


Pearson Edexcel says that this extra time will give students "a bit more time in exams for reading and planning their responses".


In addition, Pearson Edexcel has amended lower-mark questions to widen the body of knowledge assessed:


  • Paper 1 and 2 (British Depth Study) "Describe two features of..." questions (4 marks) will become 2x "Describe one feature of..." (2 marks each)

  • Paper 2 (Period Study) "Explain two consequences of..." questions (8 marks) will become 2x "Explain one consequence of..." (4 marks each)


The justification provided for this is that it will "make the initial questions more accessible and provide students with more opportunities to show their knowledge".


Edexcel says that it is exploring the possibility of beginning the "consequences" questions with extra supporting text to help students recognise the focus of the question. For example:


Q1a. The first Fort Laramie Treaty was signed in 1851 by the US government and a council of Indigenous peoples (Plains Indians).


Explain one consequence of the first Fort Laramie Treaty (1851).


(4 marks)


There is greater optionality on Paper 3, with a choice of two "explain why" questions (worth 12 marks), but Section B (worth 36 marks) will remain unchanged, with no optionality for students.


Furthermore, Question 5/6 on Paper 1 (16 marks plus 4 marks for spelling, grammar and punctuation) could now assess a whole period (for example, the 20th century) or a period of at least 200 years.


A full summary from the exam board can be found here.


 

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