The OCR History website contains some really useful documents that you can use with your students. I want to highlight a couple of them that I found useful as a teacher and used in my classroom to good effect.
Firstly, I found the examiners’ reports to be invaluable in giving advice and feedback for both GCSE and A Level. They go into some depth and detail about the quality of candidates’ responses they have seen, and suggest overall trends and patters that are happening. This can then be communicated to students, so they can see the potential misconceptions or difficulties that others have faced in the past, and avoid these when completing their own exams.
For instance, the examiners’ report for the June 2015 GCSE J418 Modern World exam could be used alongside the past paper as a revision tool for students, either by reading the relevant sections of the report and then having a go at the paper, or the other way around, using it to check their work and improve it. Similarly, for the June 2015 A Level H106, the examiners’ report goes through in minute detail, question by question, what candidates did well and what they should improve. It would be well worth looking at this document, and seeing if you can apply this to your teaching somewhere.
I found that many students appreciated the comments of the actual examiners more than my own advice, even though we were saying the same things! I found my students really heeded comments such as ‘The strongest answers adopted a more thematic approach, but most resorted to largely descriptive accounts of individual reforms and superficial analysis or assertion, which was bolted-on at the end of a paragraph’ and adjusted their approach accordingly. Read the full report.
Secondly, for the new A Level, examiners’ reports obviously don’t exist yet. However, the mark schemes go beyond just the generic one page overview, and provide some very useful guidance on the content and skills required for the different types of questions. For the Unit 2 AS interpretations questions, for instance, the mark scheme for each individual topic outlines approaches that could be taken in supporting and challenging the given interpretation in the sample assessment material, as well as other interpretations that candidates could use in their answers.
Again, I found the use of these extended mark schemes invaluable in showing students the standard expected of them. Additionally, these mark schemes reinforce to students that ‘no set answer is expected’ and that it is the candidates’ own knowledge and understanding of the historical context that is being used to evaluate the interpretations. Any documents such as these from OCR really helped reassure my students that they were on the right lines, and gave them further encouragement during their studies. The mark schemes can be found together with the sample assessment material here.
Asher Goodenough - Subject Specialist - History
Asher has worked at OCR since September 2015, and is a History Subject Specialist and also looks after Critical Thinking. His degree is in Modern History with a focus on British and American history since the 19th century. Previously, Asher was a teacher of History, Co-ordinator of Critical Thinking, and Head of History, working in schools in England and Germany. In his spare time he is an avid cricket, travel and cooking enthusiast.