Scheme of assessment
Find past papers and mark schemes, and specimen papers for new courses, on our website at aqa.org.uk/pastpapers
This specification is designed to be taken over two years.
This is a linear qualification. In order to achieve the award, students must complete all assessments at the end of the course and in the same series.
GCSE exams and certification for this specification are available for the first time in May/June 2018 and then every May/June for the life of the specification.
All materials are available in English only.
Our GCSE exams in Food Preparation and Nutrition include questions that allow students to demonstrate their ability to:
- recall information
- draw together information from different areas of the specification
- apply their knowledge and understanding in practical and theoretical contexts.
Aims and learning outcomes
Courses based on this specification should enable students to:
- demonstrate effective and safe cooking skills by planning, preparing and cooking using a variety of food commodities, cooking techniques and equipment
- develop knowledge and understanding of the functional properties and chemical processes as well as the nutritional content of food and drinks
- understand the relationship between diet, nutrition and health, including the physiological and psychological effects of poor diet and health
- understand the economic, environmental, ethical, and socio-cultural influences on food availability, production processes, and diet and health choices
- demonstrate knowledge and understanding of functional and nutritional properties, sensory qualities and microbiological food safety considerations when preparing, processing, storing, cooking and serving food
- understand and explore a range of ingredients and processes from different culinary traditions (traditional British and international), to inspire new ideas or modify existing recipes.
Assessment objectives (AOs) are set by Ofqual and are the same across all GCSE Food Preparation and Nutrition specifications and all exam boards.
The exam and non-exam assessment (NEA) will measure how students have achieved the following assessment objectives.
- AO1: Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of nutrition, food, cooking and preparation.
- AO2: Apply knowledge and understanding of nutrition, food, cooking and preparation.
- AO3: Plan, prepare, cook and present dishes, combining appropriate techniques.
- AO4: Analyse and evaluate different aspects of nutrition, food, cooking and preparation including food made by themselves and others.
Assessment objective weightings for GCSE Food Preparation and Nutrition
|Assessment objectives (AOs)||Component weightings (approx %)||Designed AO weightings (approx %)||Required AO weightings as specified in criteria (approx %)|
|Overall weighting of components||50||50||100||100|
Setting the tasks
We will set the task for each of the non-examination assessments.
For the Food investigation (Task 1), one task is to be selected from the three tasks set by AQA issued on 1 September of the academic year in which it is to be submitted.
For the Food preparation assessment, (Task 2), one task is to be selected from the three tasks set by AQA issued on 1 November of the academic year in which it is to be submitted.
New tasks will be issued for each new cohort of students. The tasks will be made available via our secure website, eAQA.
It is the responsibility of the teacher to make sure that the correct tasks are used when preparing their students.
Teachers will be able to access the assessments any time after the release date, and schedule the assessment at a time appropriate to the school or college.
Taking the tasks
In order for students to be fully prepared for the NEA, the school or college must ensure that they have delivered the content needed for students to be able to access all of the marks available for the assessments.
Students must be provided with the opportunity to establish investigative skills, and be guided towards appropriate research areas in preparation for Task 1. For Task 2, students must possess an understanding of how and when all of the skills and techniques in Food preparation skills can be applied and combined to achieve specific outcomes.
We recommend 10 assessment hours for Task 1. For Task 2 we recommend a maximum of 20 hours which must include a single 3 hour session for candidates to produce their final 3 dishes. This allows 17 hours for the completion of the research, planning, trialling and evaluation of the final menu, to be completed in sessions timetabled at the discretion of the school or college. The single 3 hour session should not be undertaken more than once by each student.
For Task 1, students are expected to produce a report of between 1,500 and 2,000 words.
For Task 2, students must produce a concise portfolio (not exceeding 20 A4 sides or A3 equivalent).
Students who do not follow these advisory guidelines will penalise themselves by not meeting the expectations of the assessment appropriately. For those students that exceed the recommended length, they will self-penalise by not being appropriately focused on the demands of the task. Any students that produce work that is shorter than the advised word and page counts, will be penalising themselves by not allowing appropriate coverage of the assessment objectives.
Students must acknowledge where they have made use of secondary information. This can be through an appendix containing a bibliography, or through foot notes.
Authentication of tasks
Practical investigations are a compulsory element of Task 1 and Task 2.
In Task 1, photographs must be included to authenticate the work as the student’s own.
In Task 2, the photographs are needed to provide evidence of the dishes produced.
The photographs in Task 1 must be present in order to authenticate the work. If annotated, they can additionally be used as evidence to communicate findings.
For all photographic evidence, the candidate number and name must be clearly visible in the photograph.
Marking the tasks
When marking the tasks teachers must use the marking criteria in this specification.
Teacher standardising will be available each year to give support in both the taking of the task and the application of the marking criteria. If you have any queries about the task, you are encouraged to contact us at email@example.com
Exemplar material and generic guidance will be available at teacher standardisation to help schools and colleges understand the quality of work associated with the different mark bands and how to apply the assessment criteria.
Exemplar material won't relate to the specific tasks that students can select from that year, but clearly show how the individual assessment criteria has been applied to previous work.
Your school or college will be assigned an AQA appointed subject adviser who will be available to assist you in matters relating to the NEA. Contact details of the adviser appointed to you will be provided when you inform us that you are using this specification.
When marking the task a level of response mark scheme should be used. A level of response mark scheme allows you to assess the performance of your students holistically.
Using a level of response mark scheme
Level of response mark schemes are broken down into levels, each of which has a descriptor. The descriptor for each level shows the average performance for the level. There are marks in each level.
Before you apply the mark scheme to a student’s answer, read through the answer and annotate it to show the qualities that are being looked for. You can then apply the mark scheme.
Step 1: Determine a level
Start at the lowest level of the mark scheme and use it as a ladder to see whether the answer meets the descriptor for that level. The descriptor for the level indicates the different qualities that might be seen in the student’s answer for that level. If it meets the lowest level then go to the next one and decide if it meets this level, and so on, until you have a match between the level descriptor and the answer. With practice and familiarity you will find that for better answers you will be able to quickly skip through the lower levels of the mark scheme.
When assigning a level you should look at the overall quality of the answer and not look to pick holes in small and specific parts of the answer where the student has not performed quite as well as the rest. If the answer covers different aspects of different levels of the mark scheme you should use a best fit approach for defining the level and then use the variability of the response to help decide the mark within the level, ie if the response is predominantly level 3 with a small amount of level 4 material, it would be placed in level 3 but awarded a mark near the top of the level because of the level 4 content.
Step 2: Determine a mark
Once you have assigned a level you need to decide on the mark. The descriptors on how to allocate marks can help with this. The exemplar materials used during standardisation will help. There will be an answer in the standardising materials which will correspond with each level of the mark scheme. This answer will have been awarded a mark by the lead examiner. You can compare the student’s answer with the example to determine if it is the same standard, better or worse than the example.
You may well need to read back through the answer as you apply the mark scheme to clarify points and to assure yourself that the level and the mark are appropriate.
Marking criteria: Task 1 Food investigation
The food investigation is assessed in three sections as shown below:
|C||Analysis and evaluation||9|
Food investigation assessment
Students will investigate the working characteristics and the functional and chemical properties of a particular ingredient through practical investigation. They will produce a report which will include research into 'how ingredients work and why'.
Outcome: Written or electronic report including photographic evidence.
The inclusion of photographic evidence is to mitigate against plagiarism and is for authentication purposes.
Assessment: Students produce a report of between 1,500–2,000 words (approx. 6–8 sides of A4 or A3 equivalent). Practical investigations are a compulsory element of this non-exam assessment.
Time: Not to exceed 10 hours.
Content: Students will individually record their practical investigation and draw conclusions. The report could include a range of communication methods including: charts, graphs and diagrams. Specialist terminology will be used to clearly communicate the research and investigation findings. The report must include photographic evidence authenticating the practical investigation.
Section A: Research (6 marks)
Students carry out research into the ingredients to be investigated. The research will demonstrate how ingredients work and why. The outcome of the research should clearly inform the nature of the practical investigation and be used to establish a hypothesis or prediction for the food investigation task.
- analyse the task, explaining the background research
- carry out secondary research, using different sources, focusing on the working characteristics, functional and chemical properties of the ingredients
- analyse the research and use the findings to plan the practical investigation
- establish a hypothesis/predict an outcome as a result of the research findings. The hypothesis should be a statement which may be proved or disproved.
|0||Nothing worthy of credit.|
Section B: Investigation (15 marks)
Students carry out practical investigations, related to the hypothesis or prediction, which demonstrate understanding of how ingredients work and why. Students will record the results of the practical investigation.
- Investigate and evaluate how ingredients work and why through practical experimentation. Each investigation should be related to the research and have a clear aim which can then be concluded.
- The number of investigations will be determined by the complexity of the investigations.
- A range of appropriate testing methods should be identified and carried out to record the results eg annotated photographs, labelled diagrams, tables, charts, sensory testing methods, viscosity tests.
|0||Nothing worthy of credit.|
Section C: Analysis and evaluation (9 marks)
Students will analyse and evaluate the results of the investigation and reflect upon their findings. Explanations will demonstrate how the results can be applied in practical food preparation and cooking.
- analyse and interpret the results of the investigative work. The results will be linked to the research and data explaining the working characteristics, functional and chemical properties of the ingredient(s)
- evaluate the hypothesis/prediction with justification
- explain how the results/findings can be applied in practical food preparation and cooking.
|0||Nothing worthy of credit.|
Marking criteria: Task 2 Food preparation assessment
'The Food preparation assessment' is assessed in five sections as shown below:
|A||Researching the task||6|
|B||Demonstrating technical skills||18|
|C||Planning for the final menu||8|
|D||Making the final dishes||30|
|E||Analyse and evaluate||8|
Food preparation assessment
In this task, students will prepare, cook and present a final menu of three dishes to meet the needs of a specific context. Students must select appropriate technical skills and processes and create 3–4 dishes to showcase their skills. They will then produce their final menu within a single period of no more than 3 hours, planning in advance how this will be achieved.
Students must work independently eg making their own judgements about cooking methods and making changes to recipes to improve palatability.
Students must work safely and hygienically. It is compulsory that students will adhere to food safety principles at all times throughout this assessment.
Students apply their knowledge of food safety principles within the planning for the 3 hour assessment (Section C). The application of food safety principles will be credited and assessed when making the final dishes (Section D). If a teacher has to intervene to prevent unsafe or unhygienic practices, this should be reflected in the final mark awarded to the student as they will not be demonstrating technical skills or use of equipment competently.
Outcome: Written or electronic portfolio including photographic evidence authenticating the practical outcomes. Photographic evidence of the three final dishes must be included.
Assessment: Students will produce a concise portfolio. Students will prepare, cook and present a final menu of three dishes within a single period of no more than 3 hours, planning in advance how this will be achieved. On completion of the making of the final dishes, students will analyse and evaluate the outcomes through sensory testing, nutritional analysis, costing and identify improvements to their dishes. The portfolio is not to exceed 20 sides of A4 or A3 equivalent. A menu is a selection of three dishes that are produced to meet the demands of the chosen task.
Time: Not to exceed 20 hours (including up to 3 hour final assessment within a single block period).
Students create practical outcomes and demonstrate the technical skills listed in Food preparation skills. Students create, plan, prepare, cook and present a three dish menu to meet the needs of their chosen task and allow them to showcase their food preparation skills. Two assessment criteria give students the opportunity to gain marks for demonstrating their food preparation skills – 'demonstrating technical skills' and 'making the final dishes'.
Excellent performance is characterised by demonstrating a complex skill to an excellent standard. In many instances, what constitutes a 'complex' skill will be determined in part by the ingredients used, processes and techniques carried out, and the dish selected by the student. The complexity and challenge of the dishes is linked to the skills involved in producing the dishes. The more complex the skills, the higher the level of demand. To provide greater clarification, the table below provides dishes that could be considered complex, medium demand and basic skill level in the context of three of the skill groups in this specification
|Skill 10: Making a dough|
|Complex (highest mark band)||Make pasta dough, roll to the required thickness, add a filling, shape the pasta accurately eg tortellini/ravioli and cook accurately. This demonstrates the execution of technical skills and processes to an excellent standard.|
|Medium demand||Make pasta dough, roll to the required thickness and make pasta sheets for a pasta dish. This demonstrates the execution of technical skills and processes to a good standard.|
|Basic (lowest mark band)||Use ready-made pasta in the making of a dish but demonstrate other processes in the dish eg slicing meat. This demonstrates the execution of technical skills/processes to a basic standard.|
|Skill 11: Raising agent – Steam as a raising agent|
|Complex (highest mark band)||Make choux pastry, correct consistency and piped accurately. Take out of the oven at the correct time with well risen and crisp pastry. This demonstrates the execution of technical skills and processes to an excellent standard.|
|Medium demand||Make choux pastry, correct consistency but piping not uniform. Take out of the oven at the correct time with well risen and crisp pastry. This demonstrates the execution of technical skills and processes to a good standard.|
|Basic (lowest mark band)||Make a simple batter eg Yorkshire pudding. This demonstrates the execution of technical skills and processes to a basic standard.|
|Skill 2: Knife skills: Meat, fish or alternatives|
|Complex (highest mark band)||Fillet a fish, removing the bone with no excess waste. Cook fish correctly and make into a fish dish. This demonstrates the execution of technical skills and processes to an excellent standard.|
|Medium demand||Remove the skin from a filleted fish and there is some waste. The fish is cooked well and made into a fish dish. This demonstrates the execution of technical skills and processes to a good standard.|
|Basic (lowest mark band)||Use pre-filleted fish to make a fish dish. This demonstrates the execution of technical skills/processes to a basic standard|
Section A: Researching the task (6 marks)
Students will research and analyse the: life stage/dietary group or culinary tradition related to the task.
- analyse the task by explaining the research requirements
- carry out relevant research and analysis related to the: life stage, dietary group or culinary tradition
- identify a range of dishes eg by mind-mapping, or using annotated images
- select and justify a range of technical skills to be used in the making of different dishes.
Nothing worthy of credit.
Section B: Demonstrating technical skills (18 marks)
Students will make 3–4 dishes to showcase their technical skills.
- demonstrate technical skills in the preparation and cooking of three to four dishes. Refer to the Food preparation skills section of the specification
- select and use equipment for different technical skills in the preparation and cooking of selected dishes. Food safety principles should be demonstrated when storing, preparing and cooking
- identify the technical skills within each dish. Photographic evidence will be needed to authenticate the technical skills.
Students will select three dishes to make which allow them to showcase their technical skills to make for their final menu. The final dishes will relate to the task and research and be dishes that have not been made previously.
For example, a student could make the following initial dishes to demonstrate technical skills:
1. Fish pie (technical skills shown: filleting fish, making a sauce, vegetable preparation, piping potato).
2. Beef lasagne (technical skills shown: pasta making, sauce making, vegetable preparation).
3. Traditional quiche (technical skills shown: shortcrust pastry, lining a flan ring).
4. Flavoured bread rolls (technical skills shown: bread making: kneading, shaping).
For the final menu, they could choose to produce:
1. Fish cakes with parsley sauce.
2. Cannelloni with homemade pasta and tomato ragu sauce.
3. Roasted vegetable flan with reduced fat ingredients to improve the nutritional properties.
Students will be rewarded for the use of a range of technical skills and the quality of outcomes achieved. The complexity and challenge of the dishes produced is linked to the complexity of the skills involved in producing the dish. To achieve the top bands, students must attempt complex skills. Selecting unchallenging skills prevents candidates from reaching the top mark band. As a guide, please see the examples in Food preparation assessment.
|0||Nothing worthy of credit.|
Section C: Planning for the final menu (8 marks)
As a result of demonstrating technical skills, students will provide explanation for the final three dishes related to eg ingredients, processes, technical skills, nutrition, food provenance, cooking methods and portion size. A time plan will be produced for the final three dishes demonstrating dovetailing of different processes.
- justify the appropriateness of the final dishes in terms of eg technical skills, nutrition, ingredients, cooking methods, food provenance, sensory properties and portion size
- produce a detailed time plan for the production of the final three dishes including appropriate techniques. Within the plan, food safety principles will be demonstrated when storing, preparing, cooking and presenting the final dishes
- demonstrate appropriate use of the three hours to dovetail tasks to prepare, cook and present the final three dishes
- not repeat any dishes from the 'demonstrating technical skills' stage when making their final menu.
|0||Nothing worthy of credit.|
Section D: Making the final dishes (30 marks)
Students will prepare, cook and present a menu of three dishes within a single period of no more than three hours.
Students should prepare, cook and present the final dishes, demonstrating:
- selection and use of equipment for different technical skills in the preparation and cooking of the final three dishes
- knowledge and application of food safety principles (including temperature control) when storing, preparing, cooking and presenting the final three dishes
- selection, knowledge and use of ingredients when producing different dishes
- appropriate use of the three hours to demonstrate: technical skills, processes and the use of equipment
- execution of a range of technical skills with accuracy
- good judgement with regard to cooking times and methods and the sensory properties of each dish
- organisation and good planning using the time plan and linking tasks within the 3 hours
- a range of finishing techniques to produce a high standard of presentation of the final dishes.
Students must include photographic evidence of the final dishes.
Students will be rewarded for the use of a range of technical skills and the quality of outcomes achieved. The complexity and challenge of the dishes produced is linked to the complexity of the skills involved in producing the dish. To achieve the top bands students must attempt complex skills. Selecting unchallenging skills would prevent students reaching the top mark band. Please see section Food preparation assessment for more guidance.
|0||Nothing worthy of credit.|
Section E: Analyse and evaluate (8 marks)
Students will carry out sensory evaluation and record the results for all of their practical dishes. For the final dishes, students will carry out and record nutritional analysis, costing and identify improvements to their dishes.
- record and analyse the sensory properties (taste, texture, aroma and appearance) of the three final practical dishes
- carry out nutritional analysis of the three final dishes
- analyse the cost of the three final dishes.
Clear links should be evident from analysing the data and information when reviewing the completed work. This leads to qualified suggestions for improvements/further modifications to the final dishes. This could include: nutrition, skills, sensory characteristics, presentation of the dishes.
|0||Nothing worthy of credit.|