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Notes and guidance: key features of the assessment

We’ve picked out the key features of our assessment to help you prepare your students.

Multiple choice questions

These are designed to test students’ knowledge without requiring them to compose written responses.

Classroom activities

  • Practise using a series of example questions relating to current topics or to revise past topics.
  • Get students to discuss and justify which response is correct. For example, working in groups of 4:
  • allocate each student a letter A to D
  • present the question
  • each student considers the answer for the letter they have been given, decides whether that is the correct or the incorrect answer and prepares to explain their reasoning
  • students then tell the group whether their response is correct or incorrect and explains why
  • the team must then decide on a group response.
  • There are several web resources for devising quizzes, one particular website provides several formats, available here.

The Who Wants to be a Millionaire format is appropriate. Put students into teams. Although in $, the template can be edited so that it appears in £. Questions and answers can be added. There are even sound files.

12-mark questions

These extended response questions present students with an additional level of response. It is reached by demonstrating the ability to bring together their knowledge of different areas of the specification to analyse and evaluate.

Classroom activites

Consider using a range of strategies to develop students’ exam technique:

  • Take a 12-mark question, break it down into a series of questions that would be worth 2, 4, 6 and 9 marks:
    • 2 marks – knowledge questions covering the key terms from the question
    • 3-4 marks – explain questions – benefits, drawbacks, reasons
    • 6 marks – analyse a method, an effect, the impact
    • 9 marks – recommend a course of action – analyse and evaluate.

Based on the original question, responses to these ‘sub-questions’ could build towards the full response – with the addition of links to other areas of the specification.

With practice, students could devise these ‘sub-questions’ themselves – demonstrating their understanding of exam technique along the way.

Devise a question matrix with columns for knowledge points, associated context (from the item) and analysis/evaluation (similar to that used in the mark scheme) and 4-6 rows.

Use as a planning tool to ensure that students focus on incorporating context in their answers.

  • Adopt a two-stage strategy for practice questions:
    • 1 – devise a plan first – homework, group work, or timed task
    • 2 – write the response
    • add other stages for further analysis
    • 3 – self assessment – and refine
    • 4 – peer assessment

On occasions, producing only the plan is sufficient – especially early and late in the course.

  • Students could colour-code example responses that would gain a range of marks:
    • colour 1 – knowledge points – in text
    • colour 2 – valid use of context (evidence) – in text
    • colour 3 – explanations – reasons – in margin
    • colour 4 – analysis – breaking down task into components – in margin
    • colour 5 – evaluation – judgements, decisions – in margin
    • colour 6 – incorporation of other areas of specification – in margin.

Using context in responses

Only questions requiring extended responses (12-mark questions) incorporate all three assessment objectives (AOs). Consequently, some questions do not have AO1 (knowledge and understanding) marks. The students’ ability to apply their responses to the context provided by the items becomes particularly important. Generic responses that could relate to any business rather than specifically to the business in the item will not be awarded marks.

Every question contains the context required, assessing AO2 and AO3. The first step is to identify the appropriate piece of context in the item. Early in the course, students will work on one question at a time, but it is important that students get the chance to work with complete items as soon as they first encounter AO2 questions. Initially and later as a differentiation strategy, teachers could pick out the relevant context for those students who need that support.

Once students begin to work with past papers, they should work through the item and match the context to each question. A numbered key to correspond with the question numbers can then be used to highlight the parts of the item that relate to each question part. The previous specification Unit 1 and Unit 2 papers can be used as well; they each have items that provide context that can be used to demonstrate the ability to apply knowledge and understanding. Ultimately, students could have a library of past papers with every item highlighted to show which pieces of information relate to each question.

Calculations and interpreting data

  • 10% of marks on each paper must be allocated to the use of quantitative skills.
  • It’s helpful to students to include calculation questions throughout their study at every opportunity. For example, learning about human resources could include opportunities to include percentage change in the cost of a range of advertising media.
  • BBC Skillswise has a range of basic factsheets and activities to develop skills in working with charts. Additionally, many GCSE Mathematics resources would prove useful.
  • More advanced resources on techniques involved in the use of charts, graphs and tables can be found on the Government statistical service
  • It’s important for students to make use of all the information presented, not just the bars, lines etc. The title, axis labels and units provide valuable information that should be used in responses.
  • This Open University file could be simplified to train students to look at all the components of the data.

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