Specifications that use this resource:

Summary of changes

The current GCSE Art and Design specification (4200) has proven to work well for teachers and students. It meets the requirements for progression to AS and A-level courses as well as vocational qualifications, whilst also preparing students for the world of work. Because of this feedback, we’ve kept changes to a minimum.

You can teach GCSE Art and Design as you do now, although evidence of drawing activity and annotation is now explicitly required.

Please note, some of these changes have been made to address regulatory requirements, whilst others are in response to our discussion with the teaching community.

Changes to content

What’s new

What’s gone

What’s the same

What’s changed


Change of terminology to ‘components’ and ‘titles’.

Component 2 ‘Externally set task’ is now called ‘Externally set assignment’ (ESA).

We have retained the format of the externally set papers whilst adding a design brief option in starting point 7.


We have retained the requirement for students to work in two or more of the titles for Art, craft and design.

‘Endorsements’ now ‘Titles’.

The ‘Art and design’ option is now entitled ‘Art, craft and design’.

Photography: lens-based and light-based media’ is now called ‘Photography’.


The Applied endorsement is no longer available in the suite of options.

The Short Course will be discontinued to comply with regulatory requirements.

We have retained the existing GCSE structure, ie 2 components for each title; Component 1: Portfolio and Component 2: Externally set assignment.


All work produced for GCSE Art and design is now classed as ‘non-exam assessment’.

96 maximum marks

A new top mark band has been introduced, enabling better differentiation between higher attaining students.

80 maximum marks


Each assessment objective is now marked out of 24 instead of 20.

There are now 6 mark band descriptors instead of 5.

The use of ‘just’, ‘adequate’, ‘clear’ and ‘convincing’ to differentiate marks in each four-mark band.

Grading levels 1 to 9

Grading levels A* to G


The qualification will be graded on a nine-point scale: 1 to 9 where 9 is the highest grade.

Drawing and written annotation


In every title, students must show evidence of drawing and written annotation within Component 1 and Component 2. Both must feature as evidence in AO3 but can also contribute to evidence in AOs 1, 2 and 4.


Preparatory work ends at the start of the supervised time period for Component 2.

The opportunity to produce supplementary work between sessions in the 10-hour supervised period is no longer allowable.

Students must hand in all preparatory work at the start of the 10-hour supervised period, but they must have access to their preparatory work during the supervised sessions.

The ESA papers can be given to teachers and students no sooner than the 2 January. Teachers cannot see the ESA paper in advance of this date

Unlimited preparatory time following the issue of Externally set assignment papers.


Revised Assessment Objectives (see below).


Area moderation has been withdrawn to comply with regulatory requirements.


All re-marking will be carried out by visiting moderation.


Ofqual are not producing any grade descriptors for the new specification.

We still provide a full range of exemplification and standardisation materials to help you to mark your students’ work including Teacher Standardisation Meetings, Twilight sessions, Interpreting the Assessment Objectives document and exemplification materials like Reminder Notes and Good Practice Guides.


Changes to Assessment objectives (AO)


Current specification (4200)

New specification (8201)

Develop their ideas through investigations informed by contextual and other sources demonstrating analytical and cultural understanding.

Develop ideas through investigations, demonstrating critical understanding of sources.


Current specification (4200)

New specification (8201)

Refine their ideas through experimenting and selecting appropriate resources, media, materials, techniques and processes.

Refine work by exploring ideas, selecting and experimenting with appropriate media, materials, techniques and processes.


Current specification (4200)

New specification (8201)

Record ideas, observations and insights relevant to intentions in visual and/or other forms.

Record ideas, observations and insights relevant to intentions as work progresses.


Current specification (4200)

New specification (8201)

Present a personal, informed and meaningful response demonstrating analytical and critical understanding, realising intentions and where appropriate, making connections between visual, written, oral or other elements.

Present a personal and meaningful response that realises intentions and demonstrates understanding of visual language.

New specification: Art, craft and design

Students should follow a broad-based course exploring practical and critical/contextual work through a range of 2D and/or 3D processes and media associated with two or more of the titles below taking into account the distinguishing characteristics of art, craft and design. The context of practice rather than the breadth of activities and/or range of media employed, determines whether a student’s work can be described as art-based, craft-based and/or design-based.

New specification: Fine art

Students should produce practical and critical/contextual work in one or more areas of study, for example, drawing, painting, sculpture, installation, lens-/light-based media, photography and the moving image, printmaking, mixed media and land art.

New specification: Graphic communication

Students should produce practical and critical/contextual work in one or more areas of study, for example communication graphics, design for print, advertising and branding, illustration, package design, typography, interactive design (including web, app and game), multi-media, motion graphics, signage and exhibition graphics.

New specification: Textile design

Students should produce practical and critical/contextual work in one or more areas of study, for example art textiles, fashion design and illustration, costume design, constructed textiles, printed and dyed textiles, surface pattern, stitched and/or embellished textiles, soft furnishings and/or textiles for interiors, digital textiles and installed textiles.

New specification: Three-dimensional design

Students should produce practical and critical/contextual work in one or more areas of study, for example architectural design, sculpture, ceramics, product design, jewellery and body adornment, interior design, environmental/landscape/garden design, exhibition design, three-dimensional digital design and designs for theatre, film and television.

New specification: Photography

Students should produce practical and critical/contextual work in one or more areas of study, for example portraiture, location photography, studio photography, experimental imagery, installation, documentary photography, photo-journalism, moving image: film, video and animation, fashion photography.

The example areas of study in each title above are neither compulsory nor exclusive.