Scheme of assessment

Find past papers and specimen papers for new courses, on our website at aqa.org.uk/pastpapers

This specification is designed to be taken over two years.

This is a linear qualification. In order to achieve the award, students must complete all assessments at the end of the course and in the same series.

GCSE exams and certification for this specification are available for the first time in May/June 2018 and then every May/June for the life of the specification.

All materials are available in English only.

Our GCSE exams in Art and Design include questions that allow students to demonstrate their ability to:

  • bring together the knowledge, understanding and skills acquired during their course of study
  • select and present work produced during their studies to demonstrate attainment, reflecting a holistic approach to coverage of the assessment objectives
  • make connections between knowledge, understanding and skills when engaging with sources such as the work of artists, craftspeople and designers and when applying working methods and processes appropriate to one or more of:
    • a starting point, stimulus or issue-based concern
    • a design brief or problem requiring a solution
    • a task which specifies an outcome such as an image, artefact or product.

There is synoptic assessment in both components of the GCSE that provides rigour and presents opportunities for students as follows:

In Component 1 (portfolio) students develop responses to initial starting points, project briefs or specified tasks and realise intentions informed by research, the development and refinement of ideas and meaningful engagement with selected sources. Responses will include evidence of drawing for different purposes and needs and written annotation.

In Component 2 (externally set assignment) students respond to a starting point provided by AQA. This response provides evidence of the student’s ability to work independently within specified time constraints, realise intentions that are personal and meaningful and explicitly address the requirements of all four assessment objectives.

Aims and learning outcomes

Courses based on this specification should encourage students to:

  • actively engage in the creative process of art, craft and design in order to develop as effective and independent learners, and as critical and reflective thinkers with enquiring minds
  • develop creative, imaginative and intuitive capabilities when exploring and making images, artefacts and products
  • become confident in taking risks and learn from experience when exploring and experimenting with ideas, processes, media, materials and techniques
  • develop critical understanding through investigative, analytical, experimental, practical, technical and expressive skills
  • develop and refine ideas and proposals, personal outcomes or solutions with increasing independence
  • acquire and develop technical skills through working with a broad range of media, materials, techniques, processes and technologies with purpose and intent
  • develop knowledge and understanding of art, craft and design in historical and contemporary contexts, societies and cultures
  • develop an awareness of the different roles and individual work practices evident in the production of art, craft and design in the creative and cultural industries
  • develop an awareness of the purposes, intentions and functions of art, craft and design in a variety of contexts and as appropriate to students’ own work
  • demonstrate safe working practices in art, craft and design.

Assessment objectives

Assessment objectives (AOs) are set by Ofqual and are the same across all GCSE Art and Design specifications and all exam boards.

The exams and non-exam assessment will measure how students have achieved the following assessment objectives.

  • AO1: Develop ideas through investigations, demonstrating critical understanding of sources.
  • AO2: Refine work by exploring ideas, selecting and experimenting with appropriate media, materials, techniques and processes.
  • AO3: Record ideas, observations and insights relevant to intentions as work progresses.
  • AO4: Present a personal and meaningful response that realises intentions and demonstrates understanding of visual language.

Assessment objective weightings for GCSE Art and Design

Assessment objectives (AOs) Component weightings (approx %) Overall weighting (approx %)
Component 1 Component 2
AO1 15 10 25
AO2 15 10 25
AO3 15 10 25
AO4 15 10 25
Overall weighting of components 60 40 100

Quality of making

The ability to handle materials, techniques and processes effectively, skilfully and safely underpins all the assessment objectives. It is important in enabling students to develop a personal language, to express ideas and to link their intentions to outcomes in a confident and assured manner.

Assessment criteria

The assessment criteria must be applied to the assessment of students’ work for both components. The assessment objectives are equally weighted in each case. The Assessment criteria grid indicates the levels of attainment that would be expected for the award of marks in the ranges shown.

Each component is marked out of a total of 96 marks. As the assessment objectives are equally weighted in each component, there is a maximum of 24 marks for each of the assessment objectives. The marks, out of 24, for each assessment objective must be added together to produce the total mark out of 96.

You are required to provide a mark for each of the assessment objectives separately in accordance with the assessment criteria and a mark out of 96 must be provided for each component. The assessment grid must be used to identify the student’s level of performance in relation to each of the assessment objectives.

Six mark band descriptors are provided, with a range of marks for each of the four assessment objectives.

A Candidate record form (CRF) must be completed for each student for each component. When completing each form the teacher should decide which mark band best describes the student’s performance for each assessment objective, then circle the appropriate mark. These marks should then be transferred to the ‘mark awarded’ row and added together. This total should be entered in the ‘total mark box’ to the right of the grid.

Four marks are available for each mark band in each assessment objective. The lower mark indicates that the student has just met the requirement described in that particular band, the next mark indicates that evidence is adequate, the next that evidence is clear and the higher mark indicates that evidence is convincing but that the student has not quite met the requirements set out in the next band.

Assessing components 1 and 2

For Component 1, the portfolio submission must be assessed as a whole, using the assessment grid to select which of the six mark band descriptors for each objective best describes the student’s overall performance. The same process is met for Component 2, preparatory studies and the work undertaken in the supervised time, must be assessed together when arriving at an overall mark.

Marking to the correct standard

Work submitted for assessment for the GCSE components is assessed at a standard that can be reasonably expected of a student after a full GCSE course of study.

If your school or college offers the art, craft and design title alongside endorsed titles, evidence of an area of study for the art, craft and design title must be assessed to the same standard as it would for the relevant endorsed title.

Teacher standardisation meetings are provided free of charge in the spring term. At these meetings teachers are trained to use the assessment criteria grid through marking exercises using 'live' sets of students' work from each title.

In addition, online exemplification materials are provided on e-AQA with written commentaries which explain how the marks have been awarded.

To ensure you use the assessment criteria grid to mark to the correct standard:
  • access the online exemplification materials (provided on e-AQA) before you mark your own students work
  • ensure a senior art and design representative from your school or college, with responsibility for conducting internal standardisation, attends a teacher standardisation meeting.

For more information on attendance at teacher standardisation meetings and internal standardisation refer to Teacher standardisation and Internal standardisation.

Assessment criteria grid

The grid below further expands on the assessment objectives. It provides a link between the grade descriptions and the assessment objectives. It should be used to mark students’ work and to complete Candidate record forms.

Drawing activity and written annotation must be evidenced in AO3, but can also contribute to evidence for AO1, AO2 and AO4.

AO1 AO2 AO3 AO4
Marks Develop ideas through investigations, demonstrating critical understanding of sources. Refine work by exploring ideas, selecting and experimenting with appropriate media, materials, techniques and processes. Record ideas, observations and insights relevant to intentions as work progresses. Present a personal and meaningful response that realises intentions and demonstrates understanding of visual language.
24 Convincingly

An exceptional ability to effectively develop ideas through creative and purposeful investigations.

An exceptional ability to engage with and demonstrate critical understanding of sources.

An exceptional ability to thoughtfully refine ideas with discrimination.

An exceptional ability to effectively select and purposefully experiment with appropriate media, materials, techniques and processes.

An exceptional ability to skillfully and rigorously record ideas, observations and insights through drawing and annotation, and any other appropriate means relevant to intentions, as work progresses.

An exceptional ability to competently present a personal and meaningful response and realise intentions with confidence and conviction.

An exceptional ability to demonstrate understanding of visual language.

23 Clearly
22 Adequately
21 Just
20 Convincingly

A highly developed ability to effectively develop ideas through creative and purposeful investigations.

A highly developed ability to demonstrate critical understanding of sources.

A highly developed ability to thoughtfully refine ideas.

A highly developed ability to effectively select and purposefully experiment with appropriate media, materials, techniques and processes.

A highly developed ability to skillfully record ideas, observations and insights through drawing and annotation, and any other appropriate means relevant to intentions, as work progresses.

A highly developed ability to competently present a personal and meaningful response and realise intentions with confidence and conviction.

A highly developed ability to demonstrate understanding of visual language.

19 Clearly
18 Adequately
17 Just
16 Convincingly

A consistent ability to effectively develop ideas through purposeful investigations.

A consistent ability to demonstrate critical understanding of sources.

A consistent ability to thoughtfully refine ideas.

A consistent ability to effectively select and purposefully experiment with appropriate media, materials, techniques and processes.

A consistent ability to skillfully record ideas, observations and insights through drawing and annotation, and any other appropriate means relevant to intentions, as work progresses.

A consistent ability to competently present a personal and meaningful response and realise intentions.

A consistent ability to demonstrate understanding of visual language.

15 Clearly
14 Adequately
13 Just
12 Convincingly

A moderate ability to effectively develop ideas through purposeful investigations.

A moderate ability to demonstrate critical understanding of sources.

A moderate ability to thoughtfully refine ideas.

A moderate ability to effectively select and purposefully experiment with appropriate media, materials, techniques and processes.

A moderate ability to skillfully record ideas, observations and insights through drawing and annotation, and any other appropriate means relevant to intentions, as work progresses.

A moderate ability to competently present a personal and meaningful response and realise intentions.

A moderate ability to demonstrate understanding of visual language.

11 Clearly
10 Adequately
9 Just
8 Convincingly

Some ability to develop ideas through purposeful investigations.

Some ability to demonstrate critical understanding of sources.

Some ability to refine ideas.

Some ability to select and experiment with appropriate media, materials, techniques and processes.

Some ability to record ideas, observations and insights through drawing and annotation, and any other appropriate means relevant to intentions, as work progresses. Some ability to present a personal and meaningful response and realise intentions. Some ability to demonstrate understanding of visual language.
7 Clearly
6 Adequately
5 Just
4 Convincingly

Minimal ability to develop ideas through investigations.

Minimal ability to demonstrate critical understanding of sources.

Minimal ability to refine ideas.

Minimal ability to select and experiment with appropriate media, materials, techniques and processes.

Minimal ability to record ideas, observations and insights through drawing and annotation, and any other appropriate means relevant to intentions, as work progresses.

Minimal ability to present a personal and meaningful response and realise intentions.

Minimal ability to demonstrate understanding of visual language.

3 Clearly
2 Adequately
1 Just
0 Work not worthy of any marks.

Assessment weightings

The marks awarded on the papers will be scaled to meet the weighting of the components. Students’ final marks will be calculated by adding together the scaled marks for each component. Grade boundaries will be set using this total scaled mark. The scaling and total scaled marks are shown in the table below.

Component Maximum raw mark Scaling factor Maximum scaled mark
Component 1: Portfolio 96 x3 288
Component 2: Externally set assignment 96 x2 192
Total scaled mark: 480