Charting the impact of COVID-19 on UK admissions and recruitment

[This article was first published on 17th March 2020, but is being updated regularly. Last update: 1st June 2020]

A summary of school closures and exam arrangements.

News over recent weeks has been dominated by the spread of coronavirus; as of 1st June UNESCO found that in 146 countries schools and universities are closed at a national level. At the peak in April, there were national closures in 193 countries.

With the period between April and June a common period for upper secondary and undergraduate exams globally, it remains to be seen what the impact of these closures will be on students due to graduate school/university this year.

At UK NARIC, we are tracking delays in exams at secondary and higher education level as they’re announced. 

In addition to the updates below, we have published a special report: The Effects of Covid-19 on International Secondary Assessment. The report looks at postponements and cancellations in selected key countries in more detail.


Bangladesh: Exams for the Higher School Certificate have been postponed until further notice.

Brunei: A level exams have been cancelled.

China: Schools in all provinces have started to reopen. Key “exit years” will return to school first – Grade 9, Grade 12 and final year university students; thereby helping to minimise disruption to exams and graduation. The Gaokao will take place on 7th-8th July.

Hong Kong: Schools and universities remain closed. Examinations for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) took place between 24th April and 25th May, after being postponed for one month; results will be released by the end of July.

India: All schools and universities are closed but lockdown restrictions are beginning to be lifted. Exams due to take place from 24th March onwards have been postponed. The postponed CISCE and CBSE exams for Standard 12 will take place in the first two weeks of July. Other boards which postponed exams have yet to release new dates. UGC guidelines for universities say that university exams should be held in early July and that the start of the academic year for first year students should be put back until September due to the postponement of Standard 12 and undergraduate exams.

Indonesia: All national examinations (Ujian Nasional) for 2020, including senior high school, madrasahs and junior high school, have been cancelled.

Japan: Schools and universities began to partially reopen in some regions from mid-May.

Kazakhstan: The Unified National Tests will go ahead in late June / July, but schools will not reopen until September.

Malaysia: All schools and universities are closed. Semester 2 exams for the STPM have been postponed until August. Exams for semester 3 have been postponed until the first quarter of 2021. Exams for the Matriculation programme have been cancelled. Exams for the UEC have been postponed until December. The Ministry for Higher Education has announced that, with a few exceptions, all programmes of study at universities will be taught online until the end of 2020.

Nepal: The Secondary Education Examination has been postponed until further notice and the national lockdown has been extended until 14th June.

Pakistan: Schools will remain closed until 15th July and all board exams, including those for the Higher School Certificate have been cancelled. Universities will also be closed until 15th July, but guidance from the HEC says that universities should still aim to complete final assessments by other means and enable students to graduate.

Philippines: Schools are closed in certain regions, including Manila. Grade 12 examinations took place on 12-13th March and the school year ended at the beginning of April. The start of the new academic year has been delayed until August.

Singapore: Schools closed on 8th April and switched to distance learning. Mid-year exams have been postponed or cancelled; most A level exams take place in October.

South Korea: Schools began to reopen from 20th May, starting with Grade 12 students. The College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT / 대학수학능력시험), the national university entrance examination, which usually takes place in November, has been pushed back to 3rd December.

Sri Lanka: There are discussions ongoing about whether A level exams will go ahead in August as planned or be postponed. State universities will reopen for final year medical students on 15th June; no announcements have yet been made for other subjects.

Taiwan: The Advanced Subjects Test (AST) (指定科目考試) will take place on 3rd-5th July.

Thailand: The first semester of the new academic year has been delayed and will start on 1st July.

Uzbekistan: Final year school exams have been taken online. University entrance exams are planned for the first two weeks of August; this is to be confirmed in early June.

Vietnam: Schools and universities have reopened. The school year has been extended until mid-July and national high school graduation examinations will take place 7-11th August.


Austria: Final year students returned to school at the beginning of May and Matura exams began on May 25th.

Belgium: In the French-speaking community, upper secondary graduation exams have been cancelled.

Bulgaria: State examinations will take place 1st-4th June. Schools remain closed.

Croatia: State Matura exams will take place in June.

Cyprus: Final year students returned to school on 11th May to prepare for the Pancyprian exams. Primary school pupils and some other high school students returned to school on 21st May.

Czech Republic: Schools reopened for final year students on 11th May and exams will take place in June.

Denmark: Upper secondary exams are going ahead, but the number of exams has been reduced.

European Baccalaureate: Exams have been cancelled.

Estonia: Schools reopened on 15th May for final year students. State examinations are expected to take place at the end of May or early June and will be optional.

France: All final Baccalauréat examinations have been cancelled for each of the three streams (général, technologique and professionnel). Students’ grades will be based on continuous assessment throughout their final year.

Germany: Schools began to reopen gradually in some Länder from 20th April. Abitur exams went ahead with results due to be released from the end of June.

Greece: Schools reopened for final year students on 11th May. The Panhellenic exams will take place from 15th June, with results due to be released by the end of July.

Hungary: Schools and universities are closed, but exams for the Matura will go ahead from 4th May.

Ireland: Exams for the Leaving Certificate have been cancelled.

Italy: Schools will not reopen until September. Written examinations for the Esame di Stato have been cancelled; students will take an oral exam. Oral exams will take place from 17th June.

Latvia: State graduation exams will take place from 2nd June to 3rd July.

Lithuania: Exams for the Brandos Atestatas have been postponed and will take place between 22nd June and 21st July.

Luxembourg: Final year secondary exams are going ahead as planned from 25th May.

Malta: School and universities are closed for the rest of the academic year. Examinations for the Matriculation Certificate, which were due to take place in May, have been postponed until September.

Moldova: National exams for the Diploma de Bacalaureat have been cancelled.

Netherlands: Primary schools partially reopened on 11th May with secondary schools following from the beginning of June. All national exams for this school year have been cancelled. Students will obtain their school leaving certificates based on their results in the school exams. School exams will be held online where possible.

Norway: All written exams have been cancelled.

Poland: Schools reopened for some pupils on 24th May. The Matura exams will take place between 8th and 29th June.

Portugal: Exames Nacionais do Ensino Secundário (ENES) exams are due to go ahead in July, but only for the purpose of admission to higher education.

Romania: Only 8th and 12th grade students will return to school this academic year. Bacalaureat examinations will start on 22nd June. Only written exams will go ahead; oral exams have been cancelled.

Russia: The Unified State Examinations have been postponed until 29th June. Students will not be required to pass these exams to obtain the Certificate of Secondary General Education; this will be issued to all students in June.

Spain: The Evaluación de Acceso a la Universidad (EvAU) (university entrance exam) has been postponed and will take place in July. Schools will not fully reopen until September.

Switzerland: Exams have been cancelled in some cantons.

Turkey: Schools are closed. The YKS (university entrance exams) have been postponed until 27th-28th June.

Ukraine: All schools and universities are closed. The Independent External Examination (IEE) will take place between 25th June and 17th July if the lockdown is lifted by the beginning of June, or in mid-August / early September if it continues until July or early August.

UK: All secondary school exams including the GCSE, AS and A Level; as well as the Scottish Highers, National 4 and 5 have been cancelled this year. Grades will be based mainly on school assessment.


Botswana: BGCSE exams have been cancelled.

Morocco: Schools will remain closed until September, but final year Baccalauréat exams will take place in July.

South Africa: Exams for the National Senior Certificate are held in November. Resits scheduled for May / June have been postponed. Schools are expected to reopen for grades 7 and 12 from 1st June.

Tunisia: Exams for the Baccalauréat are still due to go ahead.

West African Examinations Council (WAEC) (Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia): all exams have been postponed indefinitely.

Nigeria: The National Examinations Council (NECO) has also postponed exams for the Senior School Certificate indefinitely.


Bahrain: The Ministry of Education has cancelled final exams.

Israel: Matriculation exams will go ahead but students will only take exams in five subjects.

Saudi Arabia: Schools are closed and the end of the academic year was brought forward to 14th May.

United Arab Emirates: Teaching and exams will take place online for the rest of the academic year.


Caribbean: Offices of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) are closed so certificates and transcripts cannot currently be printed. Exams scheduled for May and June have been postponed until July and the format will be modified.

Chile: Schools and universities are currently closed. No announcements have been made regarding exams as these take place later in the year.

Uruguay: Schools will gradually reopen in June.

USA: The College Board has cancelled the SAT and SAT subject tests scheduled for 2nd May and 6th June. The ACT due to take place on April 4th has been rearranged for 13th June. AP exams were taken online between May 11th and May 22nd and make up exams are arranged for June 1st to June 5th.


Australia: Exams for the Higher School Certificate in New South Wales will take place in October, five days later than originally planned. Exams for the VCE in Victoria will take place in early November. Other states have not yet announced decisions about upper secondary exams.

New Zealand: NCEA exams will start on 16th November, instead of 6th November.


Cambridge International: all Cambridge IGCSE, International AS and A level and Pre-U exams worldwide in May and June have been cancelled.

International Baccalaureate: Exams due to take place in May 2020 have been cancelled.

OxfordAQA: all exams for International GCSE, AS and A level qualifications in May and June have been cancelled.

Pearson: all International GCSE, AS or A level exams globally, due to be held in May and June, have been cancelled.

English language tests

One of the other principal challenges faced by students and admitting universities alike, will be access to Secure English Language Tests for visa purposes, as individuals are required to have attended an approved test centre.

Some SELT test providers are maintaining a list of current test centre closures. You can find out the latest through the dedicated COVID-19 pages on their websites:

Other English language test providers are also maintaining updates on their websites:

Further information

Further information on the resources available from UK NARIC to support our member organisations and diverse stakeholders across the globe can be found here.

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