Ofqual has ordered all examination boards to make changes to their assessments in time for next year’s exams.
The watchdog has also said that examination boards must address concerns about the “design and underlying principles behind their mark schemes”.
An investigation found that a large number of questions were not effective in differentiating between students of different abilities, especially the most able.
It also identified problems within some mark schemes, in that the principles for what constitutes a correct answer were often unclear.
Also, marks being awarded for speaking were “very high” according to Ofqual, and the relationship between students’ marks on different assessments was “generally weak”.
Elsewhere this week, Ofqual has set out proposals for how a range of new GCSEs, AS and A levels, due to be taught in schools from September 2016, should be assessed.
The consultation sits alongside a Department for Education (DfE) consultation setting out the proposed curriculum content for the same subjects.
The subjects are GCSEs in citizenship studies, cooking and nutrition, design and technology and drama, and for A levels and AS qualifications in drama and theatre.
Among the areas being considered is the use of non-examination assessment.
The consultation includes recommendations for the continued use of non-exam assessment in drama at GCSE and A level and in design and technology at GCSE, removing non-exam assessment from GCSE citizenship studies, and how a new GCSE in cooking and nutrition should be assessed.
Glenys Stacey, chief regulator, said assessment arrangements for examinations often “fall short”.
“Our proposals are designed to improve on those arrangements in the new qualifications and provide a better match to the subject content,” she said.
“We are aiming for qualifications that provide the greatest overall benefit for users, students and the wider education system – in short, arrangements that are most likely to produce the best educational outcomes.”
The Ofqual consultation, which runs until November 19, is at http://bit.ly/1opjA2H. Responses can be made at http://bit.ly/ZjMbAS
The DfE’s consultation document can be found at http://bit.ly/1ruRPJm