Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations
|Region served||England, Wales and Northern Ireland|
|Parent organization||Cambridge Assessment|
OCR (Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations) is an examination board that sets examinations and awards qualifications (including GCSEs and A-levels). It is one of England, Wales and Northern Ireland's five main examination boards.
OCR is based in Cambridge, with offices in Birmingham and Coventry. It is part of the University of Cambridge's Cambridge Assessment, which operates in over 150 countries and celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2008.
The name OCR reflects the fact that, in December 1996, it was created through the amalgamation of the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES) and the Royal Society of Arts Examinations Board (RSAEB). At the time of the merger, UCLES's qualifications were offered by two wholly owned subsidiaries: the Oxford and Cambridge Examinations and Assessments Council (OCEAC) for A Level and the Midland Examining Group (MEG) for GCSE and Certificate of Achievement. RSAEB offered vocational qualifications. After the merger, the OCR name replaced all previous names.
UCLES had previously taken over the University of Oxford Delegacy of Local Examinations (founded 1857) and the Oxford and Cambridge Schools Examinations Board (founded 1873). The Oxford Delegacy of Local Examinations (UODLE) and the Oxford and Cambridge Schools Examinations Board (OCSEB) were acquired by UCLES in 1995. The acquisition of RSAEB was completed in 1998 and brought a new range of qualifications and activities to the UCLES Group because RSEAB's principal activity was in vocational qualifications.
The formation of OCR represented the culmination of more than a decade of corporate activity on the part of UCLES, activity that came about as a response to the policies of successive British governments towards public examinations and the provision of qualifications as well as moves to strengthen the regulatory framework.
This process has not been without problems however and OCR came under fire in 2008 when it emerged its GCSE Music paper had the answers to one question printed on the back in the copyright section by accident.
Another error happened in 2011 where an impossible maths question was set. In addition, there were errors in Section B of the Latin Literature paper, confusing names of both authors and characters, in questions comprising 28% of the total marks. Also of the same exam period in 2011, many students protested against an A-level paper on Control, Genomes and Environment which had a large emphasis on Ecology. This issue was made aware in a Facebook page which generated support from thousands of students. The Times and The Times Educational Supplement reported on this story. OCR released a statement, but refused to answer questions from candidates. However OCR were not the only board to make a mistake with two other major examination boards also producing impossible questions, this has led to scrutiny from Ofqual.
All the UK schools examinations and vocational qualifiations of the UCLES Group were transferred to OCR on 1 October 1998. Subsequent physics syllabi released by the OCR included the now infamous (fictional) units the "Ocrawatt" and "Ocrajoule" due to overzealous find-and-replace on MEG's part (in previous and later syllabi, the units were correctly written as "Megawatt" and "Megajoule".)
Cambridge Assessment is a non-teaching department of the University of Cambridge. Once, every UK exam board was linked to or was part of a British university. OCR is the only one left.