Sweden schools agency cancels national spring exams

Sweden schools agency cancels national spring exams
File photo of a closed school in neighbouring Norway. Photo: Fredrik Varfjell/NTB scanpix/TT
The Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) has cancelled national tests for the 2021 spring term due to coronavirus-related disruptions to education.

Education Minister Anna Ekström announced the decision on Tuesday morning saying it was “not desirable, but necessary”.

The reason is to give teachers and children time to focus in spring, after a year that has seen some disruption to education due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sweden's national exams usually see all students in grades 3, 6 and 9 take exams in certain subjects including maths, Swedish and English, as well as some students in upper secondary schools.

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The cancellation applies to all these tests, as well as adult education, with an exception for the tests in Swedish and maths in grade 3. But teachers will not need to report the results of the grade 3 tests to Skolverket, as is usually the case.

The decision does not apply to the autumn national exams, taking place this week. 

“The national tests measure knowledge that the students have acquired from teaching, and we know that teaching has been affected. We know that teaching has been cancelled, we know that teachers and students are ill,” explained the general director of Skolverket, Peter Fredriksson.

“In addition, we know that it is practically difficult to carry out the tests during a pandemic.”

The spring tests in 2021 were cancelled just a few weeks before they were due to take place, which Fredriksson said caused difficulties for the schools. The tests are used for providing grades, which will now be issued through other forms of assessment.

Sweden's schools for under-16s did not close or switch to online learning at a national level. However, individual schools have had the option to make changes leading to some temporary closures, as well as student and staff absences for sickness. 

In several regions, schools have ended their autumn term early or switched to online learning for the last weeks in order to curb the spread of infection ahead of Christmas, with Stockholm switching to online learning for all 13-15-year-olds.

Swedish vocabulary

national exams – nationella prov

teaching – undervisning

grade – betyg

primary/compulsory school – grundskola

upper secondary school – gymnasieskola


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