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.

Our GCSE exams in Religious Studies A include questions that allow students to demonstrate their ability to:

  • apply knowledge and understanding of two religions
  • apply knowledge and understanding of key sources of wisdom and authority including scripture and/or sacred texts, where appropriate, which support contemporary religious faith
  • understand the influence of religion on individuals, communities and societies
  • understand significant common and divergent views between and/or within religions and beliefs
  • apply knowledge and understanding in order to analyse questions related to religious beliefs and values
  • construct well-informed and balanced arguments on matters concerned with religious beliefs and values set out in the subject content.

Aims and learning outcomes

Courses based on this specification should encourage students to:

  • develop their knowledge and understanding of religions and non-religious beliefs, such as atheism and humanism
  • develop their knowledge and understanding of religious beliefs, teachings and sources of wisdom and authortiy, including through their reading of key religious texts, other texts and scriptures of the religions they are studying
  • develop their ability to construct well-argued, well-informed, balanced and structured written arguments, demonstrating their depth and breadth of understanding of the subject
  • reflect on and develop their own values, belief, meaning, purpose, truth and their influence on human life
  • reflect on and develop their own values, beliefs and attitudes in the light of what they have learnt and contribute to their preparation for adult life in a pluralistic society and global community.

Assessment objectives

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

The exams will measure how students have achieved the following assessment objectives.

  • AO1: Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of religion and beliefs including:
    • beliefs, practices and sources of authority
    • influence on individuals, communities and societies
    • similarities and differences within and/or between religions and beliefs.
  • AO2: Analyse and evaluate aspects of religion and belief, including their significance and influence.

Assessment objective weightings for GCSE Religious Studies A

Assessment objectives (AOs) Component weightings (approx %) Overall weighting (approx %)
Paper 1 Paper 2
AO1 25 25 50
AO2 25 25 50
Overall weighting of components 50 50 100

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 1 101 1 101
Component 2 101 1 101
Total scaled mark: 202

Assessment structure

There are two routes through this specification. Students should enter either Route A or Route B, depending on whether they study textual studies options.

In Route A students must answer questions on two specified religions in Component 1A (Christianity and Catholic Christianity are prohibited combinations), and four from religious, philosophical and ethical studies themes in Component 2A.

In Route B students must answer questions on either Christianity or Catholic Christianity plus one religion from the other five specified religions in Component 1B, and two from six religious, philosophical and ethical studies themes plus both textual studies themes in Component 2B.

Component 1: Study of religions

For each exam, the following will apply.

  • Students must answer questions on two specified religions (Christianity and Catholic Christianity are prohibited combinations).
  • Two compulsory five-part questions will be set on each religion.
  • Each five-part question is worth 24 marks, with 12 marks for AO1 and 12 marks for AO2.
  • The structure of the five-part questions will be identical across all religions; marks will be allocated as follows: 1, 2, 4, 5 and 12.
  • In each five-part question, AO1 is tested in the first four questions; AO2 is assessed through the 12 mark question.

Up to 5 marks are awarded in respect of spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPaG) based on performance in the 12 mark extended writing questions.

Marks will be awarded on the basis of a student's best performance in these questions.

Component 2: Thematic studies

For each exam, the following will apply.

  • Students must answer questions on four themes from religious, philosophical and ethical themes and textual themes (see Assessments and Entries and codes for details).
  • Students may answer questions on four religious, philosophical and ethical themes or two religious, philosophical and ethical themes plus two textual themes.
  • One compulsory five-part question will be set per theme.
  • Each five-part question is worth 24 marks, with 12 marks for AO1 and 12 marks for AO2.
  • The structure of the five-part questions will be identical: marks will be allocated as follows; 1, 2, 4, 5 and 12.
  • In each five-part question, AO1 is tested in the first four questions; AO2 is assessed through the 12 mark question.

Up to 5 marks are awarded in respect of spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPaG) based on performance in the 12 mark extended writing questions.

Marks will be awarded on the basis of a student's best performance in these questions.

Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPaG)

Spelling, punctuation and grammar will be assessed in 12 mark questions against the following criteria:

Level

Performance descriptor

Marks awarded
High performance
  • Learners spell and punctuate with consistent accuracy
  • Learners use rules of grammar with effective control of meaning overall
  • Learners use a wide range of specialist terms as appropriate

4–5

Intermediate performance
  • Learners spell and punctuate with considerable accuracy
  • Learners use rules of grammar with general control of meaning overall
  • Learners use a good range of specialist terms as appropriate

2–3

Threshold performance
  • Learners spell and punctuate with reasonable accuracy
  • Learners use rules of grammar with some control of meaning and any errors do not significantly hinder meaning overall
  • Learners use a limited range of specialist terms as appropriate

1

No marks awarded
  • The learner writes nothing
  • The learner’s response does not relate to the question
  • The learner’s achievement in SPaG does not reach the threshold performance level, for example errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar severely hinder meaning
0