We’ve teamed up with teacher and podcaster Craig Barton to create a podcast series which lifts the lid on how exams are developed.

Find out how exam questions are created, discover what happens behind the scenes at AQA, and get to the heart of the latest issues as teachers bring us their stories and experiences, direct from the classroom.

Listen to every episode right here, or on your favourite podcast app. Then be sure to come back and check out the extra resources complementing each of the main episodes.

Summer bonus: episode 4


14 October 2019

13 minutes

Listen to Summer bonus: episode 4

One man. One seventh of England.

What is a relationship manager? AQA’s Nick Sandeman talks through how he can help you review the past exam series and prepare for the coming year.

Summer bonus: episode 3

9 September 2019

Duration: 14 minutes

Listen to Summer bonus: episode 3


As the new school year begins, what goes on behind the scenes to make sure the start of term goes smoothly for teachers?

In this Inside Exams episode, find out what AQA employees do to help prepare schools for a successful academic year.

Summer bonus: episode 2

12 August 2019

Duration: 15 minutes

Listen to Summer bonus: episode 2

What results in 1.2 million certificates?

What goes into making results day happen? In this episode, AQA employees talk through their roles before, during, and after results day – whilst reminiscing on how they felt picking up their own results.

Summer bonus: episode 1

29 July 2019

Duration: 11 minutes

Listen to Summer bonus: episode 1

Guessing your way into dentistry?

Series one of Inside Exams might be over, but before we launch into series two, we’re sharing some extra behind the scenes insights with you. In this bonus episode, Craig Barton puts some common myths about multiple choice questions to AQA senior researcher Zeek Sweiry.

Episode 8

15 July 2019

Duration: 36 minutes

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Finding a female Fatboy Slim

Which subjects have a gender imbalance when it comes to exam entries, and what can be done by exam boards to help address this? Craig Barton discusses the issue with Steve Kenny, AQA's Head of Curriculum for Computer Science, and Dawn Hewitson from Edgehill University.

Episode 7

8 July 2019

Duration: 34 minutes

Listen to Episode 7

Mission impossible: naming rainbow colours

How are mark schemes written? What are the different types of mark schemes? And how can you make use of mark schemes in the classroom? Craig Barton meets AQA Assessment Design Manager Suzanne Oates to find out what examiners consider when they write mark schemes, and history teacher Carmel Bones shares the fun classroom games she plays to familiarise her students with them.

Bonus: Episode 6

1 July 2019

Duration: 15 minutes

Listen to Bonus: Episode 6

Post-its, tick. Coffee, tick.

Chief Examiner Gill leads a team of principal examiners writing exam papers for AQA, and she plays a key role in ensuring that the mark scheme is applied fairly across the board. Join her for a day behind the scenes at the AQA offices, and see what goes on in an awarding meeting.

Episode 6

24 June 2019

Duration: 32 minutes

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The boundaries of electing a new pope

How are grade boundaries set? Why aren’t they set until after the exam? Craig Barton asks Lesley Meyer, one of AQA’s senior researchers, what factors are considered in setting grade boundaries, and MFL teacher Jane Wood explains how her school managed to get their tiering decisions right.

Bonus: Episode 5

17 June 2019

Duration: 15 minutes

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Channelling your annoyance

How does the EPQ help students transition from A-levels to higher education? Southampton University’s Dr Emma Thompson talks through the evidence that shows just how useful doing an EPQ can be, both in getting students into university, and allowing them to thrive once there.

Episode 5

10 June 2019

Duration:35 minutes

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Creating choirs and befriending the librarian

Jennifer Obaditch, AQA’s Head of Curriculum Projects, describes how the EPQ helps students with their A-levels and university studies and Julie Greenhough, an EPQ coordinator, explains how she’s implemented it.

Bonus: Episode 4

3 June 2019

Duration: 11 minutes

Listen to Bonus: Episode 4

The art of moderation

How are art exams marked and moderated? Sandra Allan, AQA’s Head of Curriculum for Creative Arts, and Robin Drummond, one of AQA’s assessment design managers, talk through how they ensure art is marked reliably and accurately.

Episode 4

28 May 2019

Duration: 35 minutes

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London, Paris, Rome and Asmara

Craig Barton speaks to AQA’s resident multiple choice questions guru Zeek Sweiry, who reveals the secrets to writing brilliant multiple choice questions, and science teacher Jinny Bell explains why she finds them so useful in understanding what topics students are struggling to grasp.

Bonus: Episode 3

20 May 2019

Duration: 11 minutes

Listen to Bonus: Episode 3

Unit Award Scheme: 12,000 paths to achievement

Adrienne Nichols explains how AQA’s Unit Award Scheme is helping students to achieve more positive outcomes. With thousands of paths available, students are using the scheme to develop their academic and social skills.

Episode 3

13 May 2019

Duration: 34 minutes

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Hungry examiners and GCSE memes

Craig speaks to AQA’s Social Media Manager, Raquel Gomez Frias, to learn how social media can both help and hinder the exam process. School teacher Jon Sellick explains how he helps students manage the post-exam impact of social media.

Bonus: Episode 2

7 May 2019

Duration: 14 minutes

Listen to Bonus: Episode 2

AQA Unlocking Potential: barriers to barrister

Haleemah Farooq talks about her experiences of living with a visual impairment and explains how the AQA Unlocking Potential programme helped set her on an exciting career path.

Episode 2

7 May 2019

Duration: 34 minutes

Listen to Episode 2

Macaroni and 36-point font

Craig catches up with AQA’s Sue Barnbrook to understand how exams are made accessible to students with special requirements. Discover how pasta, pens and 36-point font have been used to assist accessibility. School teacher, Mark Grimmett explains his approach to helping students with special requirements access the curriculum.

Bonus: Episode 1

2 May 2019

Duration: 14 minutes

Listen to Bonus: Episode 1

De-icing with death and Jane Eyre’s flamingos

AQA Head of Curriculum for English, Deborah Pearson discusses the importance of cultural capital when studying texts and explains how effective back planning can help students untangle a text from its context.

Episode 1

1 May 2019

Duration: 34 minutes

Listen to Episode 1

Talking my language

Craig is joined by AQA’s Assessment Design Manager, Georgina Holmes, who explains why the words used in exam questions are so important. We also drop in on teacher, Kate Brewer to discover some of the techniques she employs in the classroom to help students with English as an additional language.