Alex Orgee – Classics Subject Advisor
In the past weeks, we’ve been running online Q&A events to give you a chance to ask subject-specific questions about this year’s advance information (AI). This followed our more general FAQ blogs for teachers and for students. In this blog, I’ve summarised the questions relating to AS and A Level Ancient History that were asked at our recent Q&A event.
The risk with taking the same approach in the AS Level as the A Level was that it would potentially make it very clear what certain questions would be, in particular the 10-mark question.
For example, in the 2018 Greek paper the 10-mark question only targeted one point from the specification content – ‘Persian aims and intentions in 480s’. Therefore, if we had adopted the same approach in the AS Level we risked providing sufficient detail that could have led to pre-prepared and memorised answers, and thus impact the ability of the exams to sufficiently differentiate between students’ performances.
The policy intention of the AI was to help focus students’ revision rather than cut content. The whole specification content should still be taught, and we recommend that all of the content is revised. Students should focus their revision on the content listed in the AI and the sources that relate to these areas though.
The AI was created once the question papers had already been written. Therefore, the author of the AI looked through the 2022 papers and identified the key areas that the questions in the 2022 paper focused on.
The 2022 question papers were not written with the instruction that the question must focus on content that comes from the start of the Greek and Roman period studies. Even if this was the case, we cannot assume that every single school or college teaches the Ancient History qualification in the same order. Those teaching the ‘Breakdown of the Late Republic’ depth study are not necessarily going to teach the content in the same order as those teaching ‘The Flavians’ depth study.
We have tried to make ensure that the AI helps students focus their revision by detailing the “key areas of focus for revision and final preparation”.
For the Julio-Claudian period study, the AI details the “key areas of focus” for both 30-mark period study essays and the 20-mark interpretation question. We have also included the debate that the unseen passage from a modern scholar will relate to.
Please note that the AI does not contain “the views of classical authors on Tiberius’ reign”, “the presentation of Gaius’ character and personality as emperor by the ancient sources” and “the presentation of Nero as emperor by the ancient sources”. This does not mean that the use, analysis and evaluation of the ancient sources is no longer important. It clearly is and as noted on the front cover “the format / structure of the question paper remains unchanged”. Therefore the “use, analysis and evaluation of ancient sources” (i.e. the descriptor for AO3) still represents half of the marks for the period study essay questions.
With the thematic nature of the Julio-Claudian period study, the AI is useful in helping focus revision on the most relevant areas of the specification content.
I would recommend looking at the questions asked in the 2020 and 2021 Greek period studies. In these 30-mark essay questions, there are a number that just focus on one key timespan. Therefore, it is possible that one or both of the 2022 Greek period study questions could focus on just one timespan.
This reflects an approach that was demonstrated in the 2019 paper where one of the questions had a narrower focus whereas the other question had a broader focus.
Depending on the precise wording on the 2022 questions, it may be possible to bring in relevant information from ‘The challenge of the Persian Empire 492-479’ timespan. If relevant to the precise question asked, it would gain due credit.
Yes, students will receive relevant credit in line with the marking grids for any relevant sources, topic or event regardless of whether it is mentioned as a “key area of focus” in the AI or not.
Just as in any normal year, if a student brings in any relevant non-prescribed source into their answer, this too will be given due credit.
The AI for all of the Ancient History papers was created after the papers themselves had been written. The 2022 question papers were not written with the instruction that areas of content in both the period study and either the Athens or Sparta depth study should not be assessed.
The policy intention of the AI was to help focus students’ revision rather than cut content. All specification content should be taught and we recommend that all is revised, but students should focus on the areas listed in the AI.
Any relevant content that is brought into an answer to questions in either section of the papers, regardless of whether it was content listed in the period or depth study, will be credited.
The policy intention of the AI “is to support students” revision rather than a reduction in subject content”. The AI for A Level Ancient History provides the “key areas of focus” in relation to the 2022 exam papers.
Our recommendation is that teachers teach the whole specification and that students revise the whole specification content but focus particularly on those areas listed in the AI and the ancient sources that link to these areas.
The AI for Section B of the A Level Ancient History, just like Section A, identifies the key topic areas that the questions will focus on. The AI details the “key areas of focus” of the 12-mark source utility question and both 36-mark depth study essays.
When creating the AI, the author would have looked at the passages/sources printed on the question paper, the wording of the source utility question as well as the wording of the two 36-mark essays. Based on this information, the author decided on what specification content points were the “key areas of focus” for these questions.
Therefore, given that the “effects of Roman rule” key topic area is not listed, and that Fishbourne palace is explicitly mentioned in this topic area, it won’t be a “key area of focus” of any question in this section. However, students may be able to bring in details of Romanisation and/or Fishbourne Palace to their answer to help support their answer and if it is relevant to the question posed, would gain credit for doing so.
When creating the AI for Section B, the author looked at the passages/sources printed on the question paper, the wording of the source utility question as well as the wording of the two 36-mark essays. Based on this information, the author decided on what specification content points were the “key areas of focus” of these questions.
We do not recommend try trying to predict the questions that might be in the exam based on the content of the AI. What can be safely said is that “the tribune of the plebs” has been identified as a “key area of focus” to one or more of the questions in this section of the paper. Therefore, it would be wise to focus revision on the tribunate. Please note that “the place of the courts” is also listed in the AI in this key topic area.
I would also recommend that, as stated on the front cover of the AI, “Students and teachers should consider how to focus their revision of other parts of the specification, for example to review whether other topics may provide knowledge which helps your understanding in relation to the areas being tested in 2022.”
Yes, this sounds like a sensible approach to focusing your students’ revision to ensure that they are as well prepared as possible for their A Level Ancient History exams this summer.
We recommend that all of the sources are revised to ensure that students are best prepared for the exam as possible.
However, in terms of focusing their revision, I would recommend looking at the specification content that has been listed in the AI and think which of the prescribed sources link to these areas of content.
It might also be worth thinking about which sources cover multiple areas identified in the AI and focusing in on them as they may have a bigger bang for their buck than other some other sources which might only be relevant to a narrow part of the course.
If you have any questions about this summer’s assessment and would like to talk to us, please get in touch at email@example.com or follow us on Twitter @OCR_Classics. You can also sign up to subject updates and receive email information about Classics resources and support.
Alex has worked at OCR since 2009, first joining the Classics team in 2012. Since then, he has been involved in the redevelopment of all the Classics qualifications. In his spare time, Alex enjoys cycling, watching sport, and gardening.