Scheme of assessment

Find mark schemes and specimen tasks for new courses at Assessments for this specification are available on-demand on the secure area of the website e-AQA. Certification for this specification is available for the first time in June 2016 and then every January and June for the lifetime of the specification.

All materials are available in English only.

Aims and learning outcomes

Courses based on this specification should encourage students to:

  • read, with some understanding, a range of texts, including literature and literary non-fiction as well as other writing such as letters and leaflets
  • read and make comparisons between texts, explaining personal preferences where relevant
  • locate and explain information or ideas from texts
  • write effectively and coherently using Standard English appropriately
  • use grammar correctly and punctuate and spell accurately
  • acquire and develop an appropriate vocabulary in writing and spoken language
  • listen to and understand spoken language and use spoken Standard English whenever and wherever appropriate.

Assessment objectives

The assessment objectives for this specification are set by AQA and based on those for GCSE English Language. This is so that the specification mirrors what students need at GCSE and enables progression and co-teachability.

AO1: Read and understand a range of texts:

  • Identify and interpret explicit and implicit information and ideas.

AO2: Explain and comment on how writers use language and structure to achieve effects and influence readers, using relevant subject terminology to support views.

AO3: Compare writers’ ideas and perspectives.

AO4: Evaluate texts and support this with appropriate textual references.


  • Communicate clearly, effectively and imaginatively, selecting and adapting tone, style and register for different forms, purposes and audiences.
  • Organise information and ideas, using structural and grammatical features to support coherence and cohesion of texts.

AO6: Use vocabulary and sentence structures for clarity, purpose and effect, with accurate spelling and punctuation.

AO7: Demonstrate presentation skills.

AO8: Listen and respond appropriately to spoken language, including to questions and feedback on presentations.

AO9: Use spoken English effectively in speeches and presentations.

Assessment objective weightings for GCSE Step Up to English

Silver Step

Assessment Objectives (AOs) Component weightings Overall weighting (approx. %)
Component 1 Component 2
AO1 13 15 28
AO2 3 5 8
AO3 N/A 5 5
AO4 4 N/A 4
AO5 13 15 28
AO6 7 10 17
AO7/8/9 10 N/A 10
Overall weighting of components 50 50 100

Gold Step

Assessment Objectives (AOs) Component weightings (approx %) Overall weighting (approx. %)
Component 1 Component 2
AO1 12 10 22
AO2 2 8 10
AO3 N/A 7 7
AO4 6 N/A 6
AO5 13 15 28
AO6 7 10 17
AO7/8/9 10 N/A 10
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: Literacy Topics 120 x1 120
Component 2: Creative Reading and Writing 60 x2 120
Total scaled mark 240


The scheme of assessment allows attainment to be recognised at Entry Levels 1, 2 and 3.

All components are made up of externally-set tasks. The Silver Step components cover Entry 1 and Entry 2 and the Gold Step components cover Entry 3.

The two components within each step are compulsory and all assessment must be completed in order to be eligible for an award.

The components must be taken under controlled conditions, directly supervised by the teacher.

The components may be taken in any order and at any time throughout the course. It is not a requirement that all students within a centre do a task at the same time; this is at the discretion of the centre.

Students may be given one page at a time and complete the task at different sittings should they wish.

Students may not make more than one attempt at the same externally-set task for a component, although they may attempt a different task if they fail to complete the first task.

Students cannot mix Silver Step and Gold Step components.

Once a student has completed an externally-set task, it must be kept securely until required for moderation.

Component 1: Literacy topics

The aim of this component is to introduce students to literacy skills by:

  • offering familiar and engaging transactional topics based in the real world
  • structuring the topics so that they can be built up as a module of work over a number of sessions
  • giving students at this level a route into study through the accessible nature of spoken language.

The topics will assess AO1, AO2 and AO4 for Reading, AO5 and AO6 for Writing and AO7, AO8 and AO9 for Spoken language. Within each topic, Reading and Writing are equally weighted with 24 marks available for each and 12 marks are allocated to Spoken language.

Each topic is based around a theme. Spoken language tasks are offered at the beginning of the topics where students develop the skills they need to tackle the rest of the component through the preparation and delivery of a presentation. Students will read three real-life texts such as adverts, leaflets and webpages and then respond to questions based on these. They will complete one transactional writing task such as writing an email or letter.

Students will attempt two of the literacy topics provided by AQA. Each task has a maximum mark of 60. Both topics should be submitted to the moderator.

Component 2: Creative reading and writing

The aim of this component is to engage students in creative texts and inspire them to write creatively themselves by:

  • reading two texts which could be fiction or literary non-fiction
  • writing their own creative text, inspired by the topic they have responded to in reading.

This component will assess AO1, AO2 and AO3 for Reading and AO5 and AO6 for Writing. Reading and Writing are equally weighted with 30 marks available for each.

The Reading texts will be literature, literary or literary non-fiction. At Gold Step these texts will be from the 19th, 20th or 21st centuries in order to prepare students for the challenges of GCSE. For Writing, students have a choice of two tasks, which will include a visual prompt and will be related to the topic of the reading texts.

Students will attempt one of the tasks provided by AQA. Each task has a maximum mark of 60.