Why choose AQA for GCSE Art and Design

Vibrant and dynamic, this specification will give you the freedom to teach GCSE Art and Design in ways that inspire and bring out the best in all your students, whilst equipping them with the skills to continue the subject with confidence at AS, A-level and beyond.

The qualification features a wide range of titles including Art, craft and design, Fine art, Graphic communication, Textile design, Three-dimensional design and Photography. The flexibility of its design means you can tailor your course to your students’ interests and your school’s strengths.

You can find out about all our Art and Design qualifications at

A specification designed for you and your students

We have worked closely with teachers to design our specification to inspire, challenge and motivate every student, no matter what their level of ability, while supporting you in developing creative and engaging lessons.

The qualification provides scope for innovation and curriculum development and offers you opportunities to tailor courses of study to the individual needs of your students.

With two components, comprising a ‘Portfolio’ selected from the course of study and an ‘Externally set assignment’, the specification provides your students with a range of creative, exciting and stimulating opportunities to develop and explore their personal interests in art and design.

It allows for progression from Key Stage 3 whilst providing a strong foundation for further study at AS and A-level as well as vocational pathways. To support this progression, the assessment objectives, structure and titles are very similar to those detailed in the AS and A-level Art and Design specification.

Choice and flexibility

There is a full range of options open to you and your students through the course titles, which allow for the study of art and design in both breadth and depth. Portfolio projects, assignments or briefs can be open-ended or more narrowly focused. There is no restriction on the choice of media, scale or format that students use to reflect and evidence their submissions.

We have retained a similar approach to the choice and flexibility seen in the current externally set assignment papers, with the same number of starting points offered under each title. Some will be open in nature, others will have a greater degree of prescription.

Skills-based approach

The specification has been designed to allow students to develop knowledge and understanding during the course through a variety of learning experiences and approaches, including engagement with sources. This will allow them to develop the skills to explore, create and communicate their own ideas.

Students will demonstrate these skills through the development, refinement, recording, realisation and presentation of their ideas through a portfolio and by responding to an externally set assignment.

We're behind you every step of the way

Our moderation and standardisation processes have been developed to ensure assessment is fair and consistent: with AQA you can rest assured that your students will receive the grade that fairly represents their attainment and reflects the skills that they have demonstrated.

We are committed to the partnership we have developed with teachers and will continue to offer a comprehensive range of support and provision for you and your students.

Our difference

AQA is a registered charity. We have no shareholders to pay. We exist solely for the good of education in the United Kingdom (UK). Any surplus income is ploughed back into educational research and our service to you.

Support and resources to help you teach

We know that support and resources are vital for your teaching and that you have limited time to find or develop good quality materials. So we’ve worked with experienced teachers to provide you with a range of resources that will help you confidently plan, teach and prepare for assessments.

Teaching resources

Visit to see all our teaching resources. They include:

  • Schemes of work: a variety of ideas across all titles to help you plan your course with confidence.
  • Teacher's guide: including information on interpreting the assessment objectives; expanded definition of art, craft and design; guide to constructing a portfolio; ways of presenting student evidence; purposeful engagement with sources; guide to managing non-exam assessment; FAQs and further resource materials.
  • Good practice guides: that will help you to inspire and challenge students to think creatively.
  • Exemplification materials: that showcase sets of marked students' work supported by examiner commentaries and guidance.
  • Guide to written annotation: including a chapter for each title.
  • Guide to drawing for different purposes and needs: including a chapter for each title.

Support service

  • Teacher standardisation: to help you mark your students' work we offer over 100 free teacher standardisation half-day meetings nationally, using exhibitions of live work, covering all titles and a range of marks at each level.
  • Twilight sessions: are after school meetings that showcase the exhibition of live students' work, with additional special interest sets. These free of charge meetings are an opportunity to inform and inspire good teaching practice.
  • Art and design advisory service: each school or college is allocated a subject adviser. You can contact them for one-to-one advice on any aspect of the subject, assessment and/or support with planning and delivery of course content.
  • Subject community: provides access to free resources and services offered by museums, galleries as well as from universities and art colleges.
  • Support meetings: to help you with course delivery; offering practical teaching strategies and approaches that really work.
  • Training courses to help you deliver AQA art and design qualifications.
  • Subject expertise courses for all teachers, from newly qualified teachers who are just getting started to experienced teachers looking for fresh inspiration.

To find out more about our support service visit

Preparing for assessment

Visit for everything you need to prepare for our assessment, including:

  • past papers and examiners’ reports
  • specimen papers for new courses
  • exemplar student answers with examiner commentaries.

Analyse your students' results with Enhanced Results Analysis (ERA)

Find out how your results compare to previous years and where your students need to improve. ERA, our free online results analysis tool, will help you see where to focus your teaching. Register at

For information about results, including maintaining standards over time, grade boundaries and our post-results services, visit

Keep your skills up-to-date with professional development

Wherever you are in your career, there’s always something new to learn. As well as subject-specific training, we offer a range of courses to help boost your skills.

  • Improve your teaching skills in areas including differentiation, teaching literacy and meeting Ofsted requirements.
  • Prepare for a new role with our leadership and management courses.

You can attend a course at venues around the country, in your school or online – whatever suits your needs and availability. Find out more at

Help and support available

Visit our website for information, guidance, support and resources at

If you'd like us to share news and information about this qualification, sign up for emails and updates at

Alternatively, you can call or email our subject team direct.


T: 01483 437 750