Scheme of assessment

Find past papers and mark schemes, 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.

Aims and learning outcomes

Courses based on this specification should encourage students to:

  • apply knowledge and understanding when making, performing and responding to drama
  • explore performance texts, understanding their social, cultural and historical context including the theatrical conventions of the period in which they were created
  • develop a range of theatrical skills and apply them to create performance
  • work collaboratively to generate, develop and communicate ideas
  • develop as creative, effective, independent and reflective students who are able to make informed choices in process and performance
  • contribute as an individual to a theatrical performance
  • reflect on and evaluate their own work and that of others
  • develop an awareness and understanding of the roles and processes undertaken in contemporary professional theatre practice
  • adopt safe working practices.

Assessment components

Component 1: Understanding drama

This component is a written exam in which students are assessed on their knowledge and understanding of how drama and theatre is developed and performed (AO3), including in connection to a set play and on their ability to analyse and evaluate the live theatre work of others (AO4).

The paper constitutes 40% of the GCSE.

Students have 1 hour and 45 minutes to answer the paper.

The paper is divided into three compulsory sections:
  • Section A: Theatre roles and terminology
  • Section B: Study of set text
  • Section C: Live theatre production.

In the exam students are expected to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the subject content.

See Knowledge and understanding for details.

Section A: Theatre roles and terminology

In Section A students answer four multiple-choice questions on professional theatre maker roles and/or terminology.

Section A is marked out of 4.

Section B: Study of set text

In Section B students answer short and extended questions on one set play chosen from the list below.

The choice of set plays for the GCSE exam from 2018 onwards is:

Playwright Set play
Arthur Miller The Crucible (Methuen Student Editions – ISBN: 978-1408108390)
Willy Russell Blood Brothers (Methuen Modern Classics – ISBN: 978-0413767707)
John Buchan/Patrick Barlow The 39 Steps (Samuel French – ISBN: 978-0573114403)
Carl Grose (Kneehigh Theatre) Hansel and Gretel (Oberon Books – ISBN: 978-1849430579)
Malorie Blackman/Dominic Cooke Noughts and Crosses (Nick Hearn Modern Plays – ISBN: 978-1854599391)
William Shakespeare A Midsummer Night's Dream (Penguin Shakespeare Edition – ISBN: 978-0141012605)

Students are expected to know and understand the characteristics and context of the whole play they have studied.

One extract from each set play is printed in the question paper. Students answer questions relating to that extract, referring to the whole play as appropriate to the demands of the question.

Where relevant they may support their answers with sketches or diagrams.

All students must be prepared to answer questions from the perspective of a performer.

The exam will include one compulsory short answer question for all students linking design and context and/or theatrical conventions. Students don't need to have gained practical experience of design to answer this question.

One part of Section B will offer students the choice of answering as either a performer or designer (lighting, sound, set, costume, puppets).

Section B is marked out of 44.

Students are permitted to refer to a clean copy of their chosen play during the exam. This must not be annotated and must not contain any additional notes, marks, alterations or inclusions.

Students must not answer Section B and Section C of the exam on the same play ie the live production seen cannot be their set play.

Section C: Live theatre production

In Section C students answer one question (from a choice) on the work of theatre makers in a single live production.

Students must have experienced live production as an audience member as part of their course.

They should be able to discuss a variety of aspects of one production giving a personal analysis and evaluation of the theatrical elements and how successfully meaning was communicated to the audience.

Students are assessed on their knowledge and understanding of the subject content detailed in Knowledge and understanding as well as their analytical and evaluative skills.

Section C is marked out of 32.

Students must not answer Section B and Section C of the exam on the same play ie the live production seen cannot be their set play.

Component 2: Devising drama

This is a practical component in which students are assessed on their ability to create and develop ideas to communicate meaning for theatrical performance (AO1), apply theatrical skills to realise artistic intentions in live performance (AO2) and analyse and evaluate their own work (AO4).

Component 2 constitutes 40% of the GCSE.

It is marked by teachers and moderated by AQA.

For this component students are required to complete the following two assessment tasks:

  • produce an individual Devising log documenting the devising process
  • contribute to a final devised duologue or group performance.

The Devising log is marked out of 60.

Each student's contribution to the final devised performance is marked out of 20.

Guidance on devising

The starting point for the devised piece must be arrived at in the following way:
  1. teacher presents students with a range of stimuli
  2. students select one or more on which to base their devised piece.

These stimuli may be, but are not limited to:

  • visual (such as a photograph, painting or sculpture)
  • printed or spoken word (such as a poem, news article, story or novel)
  • musical (such as a song, melody or instrumental piece)
  • fact-based (such as a current, political or historical event)
  • theme or issue-based (such as conflict, relationships, justice or freedom)
  • myths (such as folklore or urban myth)
  • cultural (such as traditions or festivals).

We recommend that students choose one or more genres or performance styles for their devised piece but this is not a mandatory requirement. Genres and performance styles include but are not limited to:

  • comedy
  • tragedy
  • melodrama
  • commedia dell’arte
  • naturalism
  • epic theatre
  • documentary theatre
  • physical theatre.

Specialisms

Each student must choose to be assessed as a:
  • performer or
  • lighting designer or
  • sound designer or
  • set designer or
  • costume designer or
  • puppet designer.

Costume designers may choose to include make-up and/or hair and/or masks. Set designers may choose to include design of props.

Each student must choose one specialism only.

They are assessed in relation to this specialism for both the Devising log and devised performance.

Requirements in relation to the number of students per specialism are as follows:
Specialism Requirement for each performance
Performer Between two and six students
Lighting designer Maximum of one student
Sound designer Maximum of one student
Set designer Maximum of one student
Costume designer Maximum of one student
Puppet designer Maximum of one student

In the case of only two students entering, both students must nominate themselves as performer.

Cross-sex casting is permitted.

Students must apply their chosen specialism as follows:
Specialism chosen Requirement
Performer Must develop and perform one character1.
Lighting designer Must create one lighting design. The design must show a range of lighting effects/states and cues/transitions designed to meet the demands of the devised piece being performed.
Sound designer Must create one sound design. The design must show a range of sound effects and cues/transitions designed to meet the demands of the devised piece being performed.
Set designer Must create one set design. The design must be for one setting, showing dressings and props designed to meet the demands of the devised piece being performed.
Costume designer Must create one costume design for one performer. The design must show clothing and accessories (and hair and make-up if applicable) designed to meet the demands of the devised piece being performed.
Puppet designer Must create one puppet design. The design must show a complete puppet designed to meet the demands of the devised piece being performed.

1Or more than one if appropriate to the subject matter and performance style of the piece.

Teachers must ensure that students have the opportunity to take an equal and active part in the creative and collaborative devising process regardless of their chosen specialism.

All designs must be assessed in live performance:
  • For lighting designers the lights and lighting effects must be seen in the live performance.
  • For sound designers the sound and sound effects must be heard in the live performance.
  • For set designers the set seen in the live performance should follow the student's design.
  • For costume designers the costume designed must be worn in the live performance by the relevant character.
  • For puppet designers the puppet designed must be a part of the live performance.
Design students are not assessed on their ability to operate equipment associated with their design. Therefore although all students are encouraged to develop their theatrical skills to their full potential the following applies:
  • Lighting designers are not required to operate the lighting equipment in the live performance.
  • Sound designers are not required to operate the sound equipment in the live performance.
  • Set designers are not assessed on the set's construction.
  • Costume designers are not assessed on the costume's construction.
  • Puppet designers are not assessed on the puppet's construction and need not be the puppet operators during the live performance.

Assessors must assess the design and not its execution.

Designs should be realised in performance to the full extent possible within any practical constraints. Design students should have an awareness of how their design will impact on the live performance as a whole.

The Devising log

Each student is required to complete a Devising log documenting the creation and development of their ideas to communicate meaning through a devised piece and analysing and evaluating their individual contribution to the devising process and the final devised piece.

The Devising log must comprise three sections, each marked out of 20 marks:
  • Section 1: Response to a stimulus
  • Section 2: Development and collaboration
  • Section 3: Analysis and evaluation.
Section 1: Response to a stimulus

In this section students are expected to explain their initial ideas, research and intentions for the devised piece.

The student must explain:

  • their initial response to the stimuli presented by the teacher and the stimulus they chose
  • the ideas, themes and settings they have considered for the devised piece in response to the stimulus they chose
  • their research findings
  • their own dramatic aims and intentions
  • the dramatic aims and intentions of the piece as a whole.
Section 2: Development and collaboration

In this section students are expected to explain the process they undertook to refine their initial ideas and intentions into a final devised piece.

The student must explain:

  • how they developed and refined their own ideas and those of the pair/group
  • how they developed and refined the piece in rehearsal
  • how they developed and refined their own theatrical skills during the devising process
  • how they responded to feedback
  • how they as individuals used their refined theatrical skills and ideas in the final piece.
Section 3: Analysis and evaluation

This section offers students the opportunity to demonstrate their analytical and evaluative skills with respect to their own devised work.

Students are expected to analyse and evaluate the ways in which they individually contributed to the devising process as a whole and to the final devised piece, exploring their strengths and the learning opportunities taken from the experience.

Students should analyse and evaluate:
  • how far they developed their theatrical skills
  • the benefits they brought to the pair/group and the way in which they positively shaped the outcome
  • the overall impact they had as individuals.
Students should also appraise those areas for further development in their future devising work (ie the aspects that did not go as well as they'd hoped). In the context of this section:
  • to ‘analyse’ is to identify and investigate
  • to ‘evaluate’ is to assess the merit of the different approaches used and formulate judgements.
Assessment evidence

The Devising log evidence presented for assessment must be the student's own work.

Details of admissible evidence types for the Devising log can be found below:

Evidence for the Devising log must be one of the following: Suggested length per section The Devising log must not exceed in total (evidence beyond this must not count towards the mark)
Entirely written 400–600 words 2,500 words
Written accompanied by:
  • annotated photographs and/or
  • annotated sketches/drawings and/or annotated cue sheets.
2–4 A4 pages 15 pages
Written accompanied by audio/visual/audiovisual recording(s) 200–400 words and 2–3 minutes 1,500 words and 12 minutes
Entirely audio/visual/audiovisual recording(s) 3–4 minutes 15 minutes

Details of our requirements for recordings are provided at aqa.org.uk/drama

Students and teachers will be required to sign a Candidate record form (CRF) to fully authenticate each student's work.

Supervising students

Students do not have to be directly supervised at all times whilst they are completing their Devising log. However there must be adequate supervision to ensure that work can be authenticated.

Teachers may provide guidance and support to students so that they are clear about the requirements of the task they need to undertake and the marking criteria that will be used.

Teachers may provide guidance to students on the suitability of their response to the task particularly if it means they will not meet the requirements of the specification.

Teachers must follow JCQ instructions regarding the provision of feedback to students.

The devised performance

Each student is required to contribute to a devised duologue or devised group piece.

The assessed performance for this component cannot be a monologue.

Type Performance duration
Duologue (two performers) Must be between three and ten minutes.
Group performance (three or more performers) Must be between four and twenty minutes.

For group performances playing time for each performance should reflect the number of performance students in the group eg a group with six performance students should work to the upper time limit.

Teachers are required to ensure minimum performance times are met.

Performances which fail to meet these minimum performance times will be subject to a mark of zero.

Students must be advised by the teacher that for the Devised performance they will be assessed on the following:
  • the level of theatrical skills demonstrated in their performance or design
  • the range of theatrical skills demonstrated in their performance or design
  • their contribution to the effectiveness of the piece, made through their performance or design
  • the inventiveness of their work, as evidenced through their performance or design
  • their success in realising their individual artistic intentions, as evidenced by their performance or design when considered against their Statement of Dramatic Intentions (see below for an explanation of what is meant by 'Statement of Dramatic Intentions').
Assessment evidence

The performance/designs presented for assessment must be the student’s own work.

Students and teachers will be required to sign a Candidate record form (CRF) to fully authenticate each student's work.

Programme notes

Teachers must provide programme notes for the moderator.

These must include photographs of each student so that each student is clearly identifiable to the moderator.

The programme notes must also state each student’s chosen specialism.

In addition each student must offer a statement of their individual dramatic intentions to justify their theatrical choices.

The Statement of Dramatic Intentions must be completed by the student on the template AQA provides. This statement is not assessed directly but should be used to support assessment. Assessment must not take place without reference to the student’s Statement of Dramatic Intentions.

Recording

Assessed performances must be recorded with a single camera from an audience perspective from start to finish and be unedited.

Each student being assessed must identify themselves by name and candidate number at the start of the recording.

Students must also state their chosen specialism.

Close-ups of set, costume and puppet design students’ work must be included at the beginning of the recording.

Full details of our requirements for recordings are provided at aqa.org.uk/drama

Supervising students

It is expected that during the devising process teachers will support students through the provision of workshops.

Teachers may provide guidance and support to students so that they are clear about the requirements of the task they need to undertake and the marking criteria that will be used.

Teachers should offer advice and guidance on the choice of genre, style and content plus suitable working methods and materials as appropriate for the chosen specialism.

Teachers may provide guidance to students on the suitability of their response to the task particularly if it means they will not meet the requirements of the specification.

Teachers must not direct the performance under any circumstances and must follow JCQ instructions regarding the provision of feedback to students.

For authentication regular monitoring should be undertaken by the teacher so that the work is seen at each developmental stage.

Students do not have to be directly supervised at all times during performance preparation but there must be adequate supervision to ensure that work can be authenticated.

Teachers are not permitted to provide any guidance to students whilst the assessed performance is being carried out.

Other requirements

Each performance must be carried out in live performance conditions and ideally under stage lighting. There is no requirement for students to perform within a full production context ie with full set and costume.

All performance preparation and the live performance itself must be carried out in a setting which has been formally risk assessed and deemed safe.

The performance space should enable the student to fulfil their chosen specialism as much as possible.

Students should be aware of health and safety factors related to both their chosen specialism and their performance piece as a whole.

Non-examinees are permitted to perform alongside performance candidates, but only where absolutely necessary in order to make the group size up to the minimum number of performers. They must be students not staff.

Technical support may be provided to design students. This may be by non-examinee students or staff.

Component 3: Texts in practice

This component is a practical component in which students are assessed on their ability to apply theatrical skills to realise artistic intentions in live performance (AO2).

Component 3 constitutes 20% of the GCSE.

It is marked by AQA.

For this component students must complete two assessment tasks:
  • study and present a key extract (monologue, duologue or group performance)
  • study and present a second key extract (monologue, duologue or group performance) from the same play.

Each student's contribution to each key extract performance is marked out of 20.

Guidance on key extracts

Extract 1 and Extract 2 must be taken from the same play and understood in the context of the whole play.

The play chosen must:

  • have been professionally commissioned or professionally produced
  • as a whole be a minimum of 35 minutes in duration if performed in full
  • offer interpretive opportunities for performers and designers
  • be rich and of substance in terms of content, context, theme and/or characterisation
  • offer an appropriate level of theatrical challenge to students at GCSE
  • be deemed age-appropriate by the Head of Centre who must submit a declaration to AQA confirming that he/she has approved the plays chosen for practical study
  • not be the set play the student has studied for Component 1
  • not contravene the prohibited play combinations below (this is to ensure the play the student studies for Component 3 contrasts with the play he/she has studied for Component 1, so that he/she experiences two very different plays on his/her GCSE course).

Teachers must ensure that all students have sufficient opportunity to demonstrate their chosen specialism (to enable them to access the full range of marks).

Prohibited play combinations
Play studied for Component 1 Play studied for Component 3 must not match more than one of these four aspects
The Crucible

Playwright: Arthur Miller

Description: Historical drama

Performance style: Naturalistic

Time period: 1945–1965

Blood Brothers

Playwright: Willy Russell

Description: Musical/adaptation from a musical

Performance style: Musical theatre

Time period: 1965–1985

The 39 Steps

Playwright: Patrick Barlow

Description: Melodrama

Performance style: Multi-role

Time period: 1990–2010

Hansel and Gretel

Playwright: Carl Grose & Kneehigh Theatre

Description: Play based on a fairy or folk tale

Performance style: Physical comedy

Time period: 1995–2015

Noughts and Crosses

Playwright: Dominic Cooke

Description: Teen drama

Performance style: Epic

Time period: 1995–2015

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Playwright: William Shakespeare

Description: Comedy

Performance style: Verse drama

Time period: Elizabethan

Schools/colleges must seek AQA approval of their play choices by submitting a Play Approval Form directly to their allocated AQA GCSE Drama NEA (non-exam assessment) Adviser. Teachers must seek approval by 31 January in the year of assessment but are urged to seek approval as early as possible.

Play choice approval is an essential part of the specification. Failure to seek timely approval will be treated as maladministration and failure to gain timely approval may result in delays to the assessment taking place.

If your school/college is new to teaching this specification, please contact AQA to be allocated an AQA NEA Adviser.

The key extracts chosen for study must be significant to the play as a whole ie pivotal to plot, character(s) or theme(s).

The key extracts chosen must be continuous and individually last at least 10 minutes in duration if the full extract were to be performed.

Students can perform an abridged version of the key extract if needed (to provide a coherent performance within the minimum performance times stated) but the wording itself must not be modified.

We advise the following steps to choose the key extracts:

Step 1: Choose the play (adhering to the requirements above) and start to explore the play practically.

Step 2: Focus on two sections of the play, perhaps a section of the play at the beginning and a section at the end (this is just a suggestion). Each section must be substantial. This is defined as taking at least 10 minutes to perform if performed. Large groups will need to study longer sections (see Step 3). Students should study the two sections chosen in depth, taking time to thoroughly explore and interpret each one.

Step 3: Identify how much of each section needs to be performed to meet the relevant AQA minimum performance time. The minimum performance time varies depending on the number of performers in the group. If the group is large, collectively the group is likely to need to perform the whole section they have studied (which may have needed to have been more than the minimum 10 minutes, see Step 2). If the performance is to be a monologue, the performer will only need to perform part of the section they have studied.

NEA Advisers are able to provide guidance about the selection and use of key extracts.

Specialisms

Each student must choose to be assessed as a:

  • performer or
  • lighting designer or
  • sound designer or
  • set designer or
  • costume designer or
  • puppet designer.

Costume designers may choose to include make-up and/or hair and/or masks. Set designers may choose to include design of props.

Each student must choose one specialism only.

Students have to choose the same specialism for both extracts.

Requirements in relation to the number of students per specialism are as follows:

Specialism Requirement for each performance
Performer Between one and six students
Lighting designer Maximum of one student
Sound designer Maximum of one student
Set designer Maximum of one student
Costume designer Maximum of one student
Puppet designer Maximum of one student

In the case of only one student entering, this student must nominate himself/herself as performer.

Cross-sex casting is permitted.

Students must apply their chosen specialism as follows:

Specialism chosen Requirement per extract
Performer

Must perform one character/interpret one role per extract2.

The performer may perform the same character in both extracts or perform different characters in each extract.

Lighting designer

Must create one lighting design per extract.

The lighting design must be different for each extract ie the student must design two different lighting plots, one for each extract. Each design must show a range of lighting effects/states and cues/transitions designed to meet the demands of the extract being performed.

Sound designer

Must create one sound design per extract.

The sound design must be different for each extract ie the student must create two different sound plots, one for each extract. Each design must show a range of sound effects and cues/transitions designed to meet the demands of the extract being performed.

Set designer

Must create one set design per extract.

The set design must be different for each extract ie the student must either design two different settings, one for each extract, or adapt a single set for each extract. Each design must show dressings and props designed to meet the demands of the extract being performed.

Costume designer

Must create one costume for one Performer per extract.

The costume design must be different for each extract ie the student must either design two different costumes, one for each extract, or adapt a single costume for each extract. Each design must show clothing and accessories, and hair and make-up if applicable, designed to meet the demands of the extract being performed.

Puppet designer

Must create one puppet per extract.

The puppet design must be different for each extract ie the student must either design two different puppets, one for each extract, or adapt a single puppet for each extract. Each design must show a complete puppet, designed to meet the demands of the extract being performed.

2Or more than one role if appropriate eg in a multi-role play.

Teachers must ensure that students have the opportunity to take an equal and active role in the creative and collaborative process regardless of their chosen specialism.

All designs must be assessed in live performance:

  • For lighting designers the lights and lighting effects must be seen in the live performance.
  • For sound designers the sound and sound effects must be heard in the live performance.
  • For set designers the set seen in the live performance should follow the students' design.
  • For costume designers the costume designed must be seen in the live performance.
  • For puppet designers the puppet designed must be a part of the live performance.

Design students are not assessed on their ability to operate equipment associated with their design.

  • Lighting designers are not required to operate the lighting equipment in the live performance.
  • Sound designers are not required to operate the sound equipment in the live performance.
  • Set designers are not assessed on the set's construction.
  • Costume designers are not assessed on the costume's construction.
  • Puppet designers are not assessed on the puppet's construction and need not be the puppet operators during the live performance.

Assessors must assess the design and not its execution.

Designs should be realised in performance to the full extent possible within any practical constraints.

Design students should have an awareness of how their design will impact on the live performance as a whole.

Performance of key extracts

Extract 1 may be a monologue, duologue or a group piece.

Extract 2 may be a monologue, duologue or a group piece.

Type Performance duration3
Monologue (one performer) Must be between two and five minutes.
Duologue (two performers) Must be between three and ten minutes.
Group performance (three or more performers) Must be between four and twenty minutes.

3Students are not required to perform the full key extract.

For group performances playing time for each performance should reflect the number of performance students in the group. For example a group with six performance students should work to the upper time limit.

Teachers are required to ensure minimum performance times are met.

Performances which fail to meet these minimum performance times will be subject to a mark of zero.

Students must be advised by the teacher that for their Extract performances they will be assessed on the following:
  • the overall contribution to performance made by their performance or design
  • the range of theatrical skills demonstrated in their performance or design
  • the effectiveness with which they deploy their performance or design skills
  • the appropriateness of their interpretation to the play as a whole, as evidenced through their performance or design
  • the sensitivity to the context of the play they display through their performance or design
  • their success in achieving their artistic intent, as evidenced by their performance or design when considered against their Statement of Dramatic Intentions (see below for an explanation of what is meant by 'Statement of Dramatic Intentions').
Assessment evidence

The performances/designs presented for assessment must be the student’s own work.

Students and teachers will be required to sign a Candidate record form (CRF) to fully authenticate each student's work.

It must be very clear to the AQA assessor when the performance of Extract 1 is over and the performance of Extract 2 has begun. This is because each student will be awarded two marks for Component 3: one for Extract 1 and one for Extract 2. The distinction between Extract 1 and Extract 2 may be achieved in a variety of different ways and, as long as the distinction is clear to the AQA assessor, any method is acceptable.

Programme notes

Teachers must provide programme notes for the examiner at the start of the performance.

The programme notes must include photographs of each student so that each student is clearly identifiable to the examiner.

The programme notes must also state each student’s chosen specialism, chosen play and if they are performing, the character(s) they are playing.

In addition each student must offer a statement of their individual dramatic intentions to justify their theatrical choices and provide the examiner with a context for the productions he/she is assessing.

The Statement of Dramatic Intentions must be completed by the student on the template AQA provides. This statement is not assessed directly but is used to support assessment. Assessment must not take place without reference to the student’s Statement of Dramatic Intentions.

Recording

Assessed performances must be recorded with a single camera from an audience perspective from start to finish and be unedited.

Each student being assessed must identify themselves by name and candidate number at the start of the recording.

Students must also state the chosen specialism and chosen play and if they are performing, the character(s) they are playing.

Close-ups of set, costume and puppet design students’ work must be included at the beginning of the recording.

Full details of our requirements for recordings are provided at aqa.org.uk/drama

Supervising students

It is expected that during the rehearsal process teachers will support students through the provision of workshops.

Teachers may provide guidance and support to students so that they are clear about the requirements of the task they need to undertake and the marking criteria that will be used.

Teachers may provide guidance to students on the suitability of their response to the task particularly if it means they will not meet the requirements of the specification.

Teachers must follow JCQ instructions regarding the provision of feedback to students.

For authentication, regular monitoring should be undertaken by the teacher so that the work is seen at each developmental stage.

Students do not have to be directly supervised at all times during performance preparation but there must be adequate supervision to ensure that work can be authenticated.

Teachers are not permitted to provide any guidance to students whilst the assessed performance is being carried out.

Other requirements

Each performance must be carried out in live performance conditions and ideally under stage lighting. There is no requirement upon students to present their key extracts within a full production context ie with full set and costume.

All performance preparation and the live performance itself must be carried out in a setting which has been formally risk assessed and deemed safe.

The performance space should enable students to fulfil their chosen specialism as much as possible.

Students should be aware of health and safety factors as they relate to both their chosen specialism and the performance piece as a whole.

Non-examinees are permitted to perform alongside performance candidates, but only where absolutely necessary in order to make the group size up to the minimum number of performers. They must be students not staff.

Technical support may be provided to design students. This may be by non-examinee students or staff.

Assessment objectives

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

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

  • AO1: Create and develop ideas to communicate meaning for theatrical performance.
  • AO2: Apply theatrical skills to realise artistic intentions in live performance.
  • AO3: Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how drama and theatre is developed and performed.
  • AO4: Analyse and evaluate their own work and the work of others.

Assessment objective weightings for GCSE Drama

Assessment objectives (AOs) Component weightings (approx %) Overall weighting (approx %)
Component 1 Component 2 Component 3
AO1   20   20
AO2   10 20 30
AO3 30     30
AO4 10 10   20
Overall weighting of components 40 40 20 100

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 80 1 80
Component 2 80 1 80
Component 3 40 1 40
Total scaled mark: 200

Assessment criteria

The assessment criteria below details the mark bands with descriptors for the assessment of students' work.

Component 2: Devising drama assessment grids

Component 2 is marked by the teacher out of 80 marks, with marks divided as follows:
  • Devising log Section 1: Response to stimulus AO1 (20 marks)
  • Devising log Section 2: Development and collaboration AO1 (20 marks)
  • Devising log Section 3: Analysis and evaluation AO4 (20 marks)
  • Devised performance AO2 (20 marks).

Marking the Devising log

These are the mark schemes to be used for the Devising log in Component 2. They are level of response mark schemes.

Level of response mark schemes are broken down into levels, each of which has a descriptor. The descriptor for the level shows the average performance. There are marks in each level. Before you apply the mark scheme to a student’s response you should review the response.

Step 1 Determine a level – Start at the lowest level of the mark scheme and use it as a ladder to see whether the response meets the descriptor for that level. The descriptors for the level indicate the different qualities that might be seen in the student’s response. If the response meets the lowest level then go to the next one and decide if it meets this level, and so on, until you have a match between the level descriptors and the response.

When assigning a level look at the overall quality of the response. If the response covers different aspects of different levels of the mark scheme you should use a best fit approach and use the variability of the response to decide the mark within the level, ie if the response is predominantly level 3 with a small amount of level 4 material it would be placed in level 3 but awarded a mark near the top because of the level 4 content.

Step 2 Determine a mark – Once you have assigned a level you need to decide on the mark. The exemplar materials used during teacher standardisation will help. You can compare the student’s response with the marked and annotated examples to determine if it is the same standard, better or worse.

Marking Section 1

This is the mark scheme to be used for Section 1 of the Devising log in Component 2. There are 20 marks available for this section.

The assessment objective being assessed is AO1: Create and develop ideas to communicate meaning for theatrical performance.
Devising log Section 1 (20 marks)
Band Mark Descriptors
4 16–20 Excellent response:
  • The explanations given in the Devising log evidence excellent skills in creating and developing ideas to communicate meaning.
  • There is evidence of a highly developed and highly creative response to the stimulus.
  • The explanation is very clear and points are comprehensively explored.
  • Precise details are provided throughout.
3 11–15 Good response:
  • The explanations given in the Devising log evidence good skills in creating and developing ideas to communicate meaning.
  • There is evidence of a creative and engaged response to the stimulus.
  • The explanation is clear and most points are explored in some detail.
  • A number of precise details are provided.
2 6–10 Reasonable response:
  • The explanations given in the Devising log evidence reasonable skills in creating and developing ideas to communicate meaning.
  • There is evidence of a meaningful response to the stimulus which shows some creativity.
  • The explanation is reasonably clear but some points are not explored.
  • A few precise details are provided.
1 1–5 Limited response:
  • The explanations given in the Devising log evidence limited skills in creating and developing ideas to communicate meaning.
  • There is evidence of an under-developed response to the stimulus.
  • The explanation lacks clarity and depth.
  • Minimal detail is provided.
0 0 Nothing worthy of credit.

Marking Section 2

This is the mark scheme to be used for Section 2 of the Devising log in Component 2. There are 20 marks available for this section.

The assessment objective being assessed is AO1: Create and develop ideas to communicate meaning for theatrical performance.
Devising log Section 2 (20 marks)
Band Mark Descriptors
4 16–20 Excellent response:
  • The explanations given in the Devising log evidence excellent skills in creating and developing ideas to communicate meaning.
  • There is evidence of extensive and highly effective development and refinement of skills and the piece.
  • The explanation is very clear and points are comprehensively explored.
  • Precise details are provided throughout.
3 11–15 Good response:
  • The explanations given in the Devising log evidence good skills in creating and developing ideas to communicate meaning.
  • There is evidence of considerable and mostly effective development and refinement of skills and the piece.
  • The explanation is clear and most points are explored in some detail.
  • A number of precise details are provided.
2 6–10 Reasonable response:
  • The explanations given in the Devising log evidence reasonable skills in creating and developing ideas to communicate meaning.
  • There is evidence of some meaningful development and refinement of skills and the piece.
  • The explanation is reasonably clear but some points are not explored.
  • A few precise details are provided.
1 1–5 Limited response:
  • The explanations given in the Devising log evidence limited skills in creating and developing ideas to communicate meaning.
  • There is evidence of little development and refinement of skills and the piece.
  • The explanation lacks clarity and depth.
  • Minimal detail is provided.
0 0 Nothing worthy of credit.

Marking Section 3

This is the mark scheme to be used for Section 3 of the Devising log in Component 2. There are 20 marks available for this section.

The assessment objective being assessed is AO4: Analyse and evaluate their own work and the work of others.

Devising log Section 3 (20 marks)
Band Mark Descriptors
4 16–20 Excellent analysis and evaluation:
  • Response demonstrates highly developed skills in identifying and investigating how far they developed their theatrical skills and how successfully they contributed to the devising process and to the final devised piece (analysis).
  • Response demonstrates highly developed skills in assessing the merit of different approaches and formulating judgements about the overall impact they had as an individual (evaluation).
  • Response is critical and insightful.
  • Points are comprehensively explored and supported in depth with thorough exemplification.
3 11–15 Good analysis and evaluation:
  • Response demonstrates developed and secure skills in identifying and investigating how far they developed their theatrical skills and how successfully they contributed to the devising process and to the final devised piece (analysis).
  • Response demonstrates developed and secure skills in assessing the merit of different approaches and formulating judgements about the overall impact they had as an individual (evaluation).
  • Response is developed and clear.
  • Points are explored and supported with a number of examples.
2 6–10 Reasonable analysis and evaluation:
  • Response demonstrates some developing skill in identifying and investigating how far they developed their theatrical skills and how successfully they contributed to the devising process and to the final devised piece (analysis).
  • Response demonstrates some developing skill in assessing the merit of different approaches and formulating judgements about the overall impact they had as an individual (evaluation).
  • Response is reasonably clear but at points relies on description.
  • Points made are sound but may not be explored or supported.
1 1–5 Limited analysis and evaluation:
  • Response demonstrates undeveloped skills in identifying and investigating how far they developed their theatrical skills and how successfully they contributed to the devising process and to the final devised piece (analysis).
  • Response demonstrates undeveloped skills in assessing the merit of different approaches and formulating judgements about the overall impact they had as an individual (evaluation).
  • Response is mostly descriptive and lacks examples.
0 0 Nothing worthy of credit.

Marking the Devised performance

This is the mark scheme to be used for the Devised performance in Component 2.

There are 20 marks available. Award either 1 mark, 2 marks, 3 marks, or 4 marks for each of the following five criteria.

The assessment objective being assessed is AO2: Apply theatrical skills to realise artistic intentions in live performance.

Mark Level of theatrical skill Range of theatrical skills demonstrated Contribution to the effectiveness of the piece Inventiveness of individual's work Success in realising individual artistic intention*
4 Highly competent, highly developed and sustained use of theatrical skill. Extensive range of theatrical skills demonstrated. Outstanding contribution to the effectiveness of the piece. Highly inventive work throughout. Highly successful realisation of individual artistic intention.
3 Developed, secure and consistent use of theatrical skill. Wide range of theatrical skills demonstrated. Considerable contribution to the effectiveness of the piece. Work has many inventive qualities or moments. Secure success in realising individual artistic intention.
2 Some developing competency in use of theatrical skill, not always sustained. Fair range of theatrical skills demonstrated. Some meaningful contributions to the effectiveness of the piece. Some useful inventive ideas. Some success in realising individual artistic intention.
1 Little competency and little consistency in use of theatrical skill. Narrow range of theatrical skills demonstrated. Little contribution to the effectiveness of the piece. Little inventiveness. Little success in realising individual artistic intention.
0 Nothing worthy of credit. Nothing worthy of credit. Nothing worthy of credit. Nothing worthy of credit. Nothing worthy of credit.

* This must be judged against the Statement of Dramatic Intentions provided by the student (how far has the student met their aims?).

Component 3: Texts in practice assessment grid

Component 3 is marked by a visiting AQA assessor using the assessment grid below.

Two extracts will be performed to the AQA assessor, each marked out of 20 marks.

The assessment grid below applies to both performances individually.

The assessment objective being assessed is AO2: Apply theatrical skills to realise artistic intentions in live performance.

Mark scheme for the Performance of Extract 1 (20 marks) and Extract 2 (20 marks)

Band Mark Descriptors
4 16–20 Excellent contribution to performance:
  • An extensive range of skills are demonstrated.
  • Skills are deployed precisely and in a highly effective way.
  • Personal interpretation is entirely appropriate to the play as a whole.
  • Personal interpretation is highly sensitive to context.
  • Artistic intentions are entirely achieved.
3 11–15 Good contribution to performance:
  • Wide range of skills are demonstrated.
  • Skills are deployed confidently and in a mostly effective way.
  • Personal interpretation exhibits a good degree of appropriateness to the play as a whole.
  • Personal interpretation exhibits a good degree of sensitivity to context.
  • Artistic intentions are mostly achieved.
2 6–10 Reasonable contribution to performance:
  • Fair range of skills are demonstrated.
  • Skills are deployed with care and with effectiveness in places.
  • Personal interpretation has some relevance to the play as a whole.
  • Personal interpretation is sensitive to context in places.
  • Artistic intentions are partly achieved.
1 1–5 Limited contribution to performance:
  • Narrow range of skills are demonstrated.
  • Skills are deployed uncertainly with little effectiveness.
  • Personal interpretation lacks appropriateness for the play as a whole.
  • Personal interpretation lacks sensitivity to context.
  • Artistic intentions are achieved to a minimal extent.
0 0 Nothing worthy of credit.