Scheme of assessment

Find past papers and mark schemes, and specimen papers for new courses, on our website at aqa.org.uk/pastpapers

The AS specification is designed to be taken over one or two years with all assessments taken at the end of the course. The A-level specification is designed to be taken over two years with all assessments taken at the end of the course.

Assessments and certification for the AS specification are available for the first time in May/June 2016 and then every May/June for the life of the specification.

Assessments and certification for the A-level specification are available for the first time in May/June 2017 and then every May/June for the life of the specification.

These are linear qualifications. In order to achieve the award, students must complete all exams in May/June in a single year. All assessments must be taken in the same series.

Assessment is designed to elicit extended responses and offers the opportunity for students to draw together and demonstrate their understanding of historical terms, concepts and the skills of analysis and evaluation, developed across the full course of study.

All materials are available in English only.

Aims

Courses based on these specifications should encourage students to:

  • develop their interest in, and enthusiasm for, history and an understanding of its intrinsic value and significance
  • acquire an understanding of different identities within society and an appreciation of aspects such as social, cultural, religious and ethnic diversity, as appropriate
  • build on their understanding of the past through experiencing a broad and balanced course of study
  • improve as effective and independent students and as critical and reflective thinkers with curious and enquiring minds
  • develop the ability to ask relevant and significant questions about the past and to research them
  • acquire an understanding of the nature of historical study, for example that history is concerned with judgements based on available evidence and that historical judgements are provisional
  • develop their use and understanding of historical terms, concepts and skills
  • make links and draw comparisons within and/or across different periods and aspects of the past
  • organise and communicate their historical knowledge and understanding in different ways, arguing a case and reaching substantiated judgements.

Assessment objectives

Assessment objectives (AOs) are set by Ofqual and are the same across all AS and A-level History specifications and all exam boards.

The exams will measure how students have achieved the following assessment objectives:
AO1 Demonstrate, organise and communicate knowledge and understanding to analyse and evaluate the key features related to the periods studied, making substantiated judgements and exploring concepts, as relevant, of cause, consequence, change, continuity, similarity, difference and significance.
AO2 Analyse and evaluate appropriate source material, primary and/or contemporary to the period, within its historical context.
AO3 Analyse and evaluate, in relation to the historical context, different ways in which aspects of the past have been interpreted.

Weighting of assessment objectives for AS History

Assessment objectives (AOs) Component weightings (approx %) Overall weighting (approx %)
Paper 1 (Breadth Study) Paper 2 (Depth Study)
AO1 25 25 50
AO2 0 25 25
AO3 25 0 25
Overall weighting of components 50 50 100

Weighting of assessment objectives for A-level History

Assessment objectives (AOs) Component weightings (approx %) Overall weighting (approx %)
Component 1 Component 2 Component 3
AO1 25 25 10 60
AO2 0 15 5 20
AO3 15 0 5 20
Overall weighting of components 40 40 20 100

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.

AS

Component Maximum raw mark Scaling factor Maximum scaled mark
Breadth Study 50 x1 50
Depth Study 50 x1 50
    Total scaled mark: 100

A-level

Component Maximum raw mark Scaling factor Maximum scaled mark
Breadth Study 80 x1 80
Depth Study 80 x1 80
Historical Investigation 40 x1 40
    Total scaled mark: 200

Structure of question papers

AS

There are two components of assessment in this AS History specification. Component 1 assesses candidates’ understanding of breadth and of historical interpretations. Component 2 assesses understanding of depth and of the value of primary sources.

Component 1

The examination paper for this component is designed to test students’ ability in relation to AO1 and AO3. There are two sections to the paper.

In Section A there will be a compulsory question which tests students’ ability to analyse and evaluate the views of historians (AO3). Two extracts will be provided, containing contrasting historical interpretations linked to a broad issue or development. In response to the question students will be required to assess and arrive at a judgement about which interpretation is more convincing. In doing so, they must apply knowledge and understanding of the historical context to these arguments and interpretations; deployment of knowledge that does not relate to the extracts will, however, not be credited. The question is worth 25 marks.

In Section B, two questions will be set of which students answer one. Either question tests AO1 and is designed to test historical understanding over an extended period. The focus of these questions will be, as appropriate, on causation, change, continuity, similarity and significance over time. Either question will be in the form of a judgement about an issue or development and students are required to analyse and evaluate the judgement. The question carries 25 marks.

Component 2

The examination paper for this component is designed to test students’ ability in relation to AO1 and AO2. There are two sections to the examination paper.

In Section A there will be a compulsory question which tests students’ ability to analyse and evaluate the value of primary sources (AO2). Two primary sources will be provided. In response to the question, candidates will be required to make an assessment of the value of the sources in relation to an event or issue. The question is worth 25 marks.

In Section B, two questions will be set of which students answer one. Either question tests AO1 and is designed to test historical understanding in depth. The focus of these questions will be, as appropriate, on causation, change, continuity, similarity and significance in relation to a narrow issue or development. Either question will be in the form of a judgement about an issue or development and students are required to analyse and evaluate the judgement. The question carries 25 marks.

The questions in Section B, in order to test AO1 in its entirety, will have a range of foci both in any one paper and over time. Thus, in addition to targeting the generic qualities of organisation, analysis, evaluation and judgement, questions will also test the range of foci in the AO: cause, consequence, change, continuity, similarity, difference and significance. Consistent with the nature of historical analysis, a single question may require students to demonstrate understanding of more than one of these perspectives.

The knowledge, understanding, skills and abilities tested at AS reflect those tested at A-level, but are at a standard that reflects what can be expected from students at the end of the one year of study and comprises the first part of the equivalent specified A-level content. In this way co-teachability of the AS specification alongside the A-level specification is facilitated.

A-level

At A-level, there are three assessment components. Component 1 assesses students’ understanding of breadth and of historical interpretations. Component 2 assesses understanding of depth and of the value of primary sources. Component 3 is a Historical Investigation (non-exam assessment).

Component 1

The examination paper for this component is designed to test students’ ability in relation to AO1 and AO3. There are two sections to the paper.

There will be a compulsory question in Section A testing students’ ability to analyse and evaluate the views of historians (AO3). Three extracts will be provided, containing historical interpretations linked to a broad issue or development. Students will be required to identify the arguments and evaluate them. In doing so, they must apply knowledge and understanding of the historical context to these arguments and interpretations; deployment of knowledge that does not relate to the extracts will receive no credit. This question carries 30 marks.

Section B will contain three essay questions of which students are required to answer two. Each essay tests AO1 and assesses historical understanding of developments and issues within a broad and coherent chronology, covering a minimum of 20 years. The focus of these questions will be, as appropriate, on understanding causation, change, continuity, similarity, difference and significance over time. Thus, questions with a narrow focus, such as those focused on specific events, will not be set. Each question in this section carries 25 marks.

It is advised that students should spend one hour on the compulsory question and 45 minutes on each of the essay questions.

In order to ensure that students demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the breadth component over the whole period, the balance of questions on the breadth paper will be as follows:

  • Where the compulsory question is based on Part 1 of the content, Section B will contain one essay on Part 1 of the content, or one which overlaps Parts 1 and 2 and two questions on Part 2 of the content.
  • Where the compulsory question is based on Part 2 of the content, Section B will contain one essay on Part 2 of the content, or one which overlaps Parts 1 and 2 and two questions on Part 1 of the content.
  • Where the compulsory question overlaps Parts 1 and 2 of the content, Section B will contain one question on Part 1 of the content, one question on Part 2 of the content and one from either Part 1 or 2 depending on the overall balance of the paper.

The essay questions in Section B, in order to test AO1 in its entirety, will have a range of foci both in any one paper and over time. Thus, in addition to targeting the generic qualities of organisation, analysis, evaluation and judgement, questions will also test the range of foci in the AO: cause, consequence, change, continuity, similarity, difference and significance. Consistent with the nature of historical analysis, a single question may require students to demonstrate understanding of more than one of these perspectives.

Component 2

The examination paper for this component is designed to test students’ ability in relation to AO1 and AO2. There are two sections to the examination paper.

In Section A there will be a compulsory question testing students’ ability to analyse and evaluate the value of primary sources to an historian studying a particular issue or development (AO2). Three sources will be set for evaluation. In their assessments, students are expected to evaluate the sources, considering, for example, provenance, style and emphasis and the content of the sources. Students must deploy knowledge and understanding of the historical context when making their assessments and, in doing so, must avoid generalised comment about the value of sources without reference to context. Deployment of knowledge that does not relate to the sources will receive no credit. This question carries 30 marks.

Section B will contain three essay questions of which students are required to answer two. Each essay tests AO1 and is designed to test historical understanding in depth, by a focus on events, issues and developments and the interrelationships of various perspectives as they apply to the question. Each question in this section carries 25 marks.

It is advised that students should spend one hour on the compulsory question and 45 minutes on each of the essay questions.

The questions in Section B, in order to test AO1 in its entirety, will have a range of foci both in any one paper and over time. Thus, in addition to targeting the generic qualities of organisation, analysis, evaluation and judgement, questions will also test the range of foci in the AO: cause, consequence, change, continuity, similarity, difference and significance. Consistent with the nature of historical analysis, a single question may require students to demonstrate understanding of more than one of these perspectives.

Component 3

Students must complete a Historical Investigation. This tests AO1, AO2 and AO3.      The Historical Investigation must:

  • be independently researched and written by the student
  • take the form of a question in the context of approximately 100 years that does not        duplicate content within option chosen for Components 1 and 2
  • be presented in the form of a piece of extended writing of between 3000 and        3500 words in length
  • draw upon the student's investigation of sources (both primary and secondary)        which relate to the development or issue chosen and the differing interpretations that have        been placed on this.

The Historical Investigation carries 40 marks.

The centre must complete a non-examined assessment (NEA) title approval form no later than 20 October in the year before the intended completion of the A-level course. The form must detail the title and date range of the proposed historical investigation for each student. The teacher must      state which examined components will be studied. This form must be submitted to AQA for      review. AQA will check that the proposed historical investigation title, when combined with the      examined components, meets the following requirements:

  • the proposed title is set in the context of approximately 100 years
  • there is no overlap with the content of the options studied for the examined        components
  • all three components together cover a chronological range of at least 200 years

AQA will inform the centre if any historical investigation title does not meet the requirements and      the focus for the non-examined assessment will need to be changed.

Failure to comply with these requirements will invalidate the student’s entry and no        A-level result will be issued.

It is therefore vital that the teacher ensures that all requirements are met. If a student      changes their historical investigation title, a new form should be completed.

On completion of the NEA, each student must also complete a Candidate Record Form (CRF)      detailing the options studied for the examined components. The student must sign this form.      The teacher must counter sign the CRF and this declaration will confirm that the historical      investigation complies with the NEA title approval form and has adhered to all requirements.

The CRF must be sent to the moderator at the same time as marks for the NEA are submitted.      The moderator will check that all course requirements have been met.

If the requirements have not been met, then the entry will be invalid and no result        issued.

Copies of all the documentation, including the NEA proposal form and guidance on submission      procedures are available from the AQA website at www.aqa.org.uk/history

Further guidance is available from the History subject team: history@aqa.org.uk