Keeley Nolan and Isobel Woodger, English Subject Advisors
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, we’ve summarised the questions asked at our GCSE and A Level English Q&A events.
When the awarding bodies met to discuss AI, the brief was to ensure that information could be provided to help support students with their revision, with the following principles in mind:
AI is therefore intended to provide a focus for student revision and remaining teaching and learning time, it is not intended to remove content taught.
As the JCQ guidance indicates and we put in our introductory notes of our summary document, “the breadth, depth and presentation of the advance information will vary between subjects to reflect their different characteristics.”
The nature of individual subjects and specifications and how they’re assessed impacts what kind and how much AI exam boards are able to give. All exam boards have worked together on the AI for each subject to ensure the information provided by exam boards is comparable. All AI was also reviewed by JCQ and Ofqual for comparability.
Yes, these will still be examined. As above, AI is designed to enable students and teachers to make better use of revision and remaining teaching time by providing more focus; it is not there to narrow teaching and learning or to cover everything that is in the assessment. Elements not covered in the AI will still be assessed, it’s just that we couldn’t provide further detail that would not compromise the assessment.
We clarified which edition we use for Shakespeare question setting in our specification documents and a Subject Information Update in 2019 and on our FAQ page.
We use the Alexander Text for question setting across our GCSE and A Level English qualifications. Handily the Collins Complete Works Alexander text is available as a cheap 99p ebook, so it is relatively easy to check differences between this and whichever teaching edition you are using.
We can’t give further guidance which would provide a steer on the specific question. With that in mind, for a newspaper article you may want to consider different styles of article such as editorial, column pieces, feature articles or news reports; first and third person writing; opinion pieces vs neutral tone.
What is important is that students are adapting their language to suit the purpose, audience and focus of the specific task in the exam. Students will not be required to include any visual or presentational features as the assessment is only based on students’ use of language.
As above, we can’t give further details on what the specific text might include but, in general, travel writing will include personal writing and descriptive writing of journeys and places.
As above, we can’t give further guidance which would provide a steer on the specific question. With that in mind, the reference to ‘script for a talk’ means that the topical language issue question will require students to produce a piece of writing which reflects spoken mode. You might want to consider register, rhetorical devices, markers of spoken discourse and the difference between spontaneous and non-spontaneous speech.
Exam boards had a choice of releasing one of the following pieces of information about the unseen texts in A and AS Level English Language: genre, purpose, mode or time period.
When deciding which element to release, we considered the fact that all texts are unseen, how these are assessed, and the knowledge about the examination structure students will have. With this in mind, we felt that knowing the type of text would be most helpful in helping students focus their revision in ways suitable for the types of questions in our papers.
Yes, we haven’t removed any content for study and the questions do rely on students drawing on their study of the text(s) as a whole. The AI indicates a smaller section or list of poems from which the poem(s) reproduced in the exam will be taken.
Yes, we haven’t removed any content for study and the questions do rely on students drawing on their study of the text(s) as a whole. The AI indicates a smaller section or list of poems from which the extract reproduced in the exam will be taken.
In English Literature, students have to study whole texts in order to be able to answer discursive questions fully and with ease. The majority of assessments require either a close reading of an extract or an extended discursive essay (which are largely comparative) on a theme or proposition about a text. Therefore, what can be provided to students in English that would prevent pre-prepared or memorised responses, or would not result in unhelpful direction on what to study, has been comparably limited across all awarding bodies.
For example, if providing a list of themes or ideas, this could both unhelpfully limit the scope of student’s study and revision while also leading to pre-prepared or memorised responses. Likewise, it proved very difficult to find areas of study that we could direct students to for specific revision besides the Shakespeare. As students have to study texts as a whole in order to answer those discursive questions, we didn’t feel there would be any benefit to students being asked to focus on specific chapters or sections of those texts.
Centres do not need to submit a sample of audio-visual recordings for monitoring of the Spoken Language endorsement in Summer 2022. Centres will still need to submit the OCR NEA centre declaration form to indicate that all students have been given the opportunity to undertake the spoken language endorsement.
Although there is no requirement for teachers to submit a sample of video recordings for monitoring in summer 2022, you will still need to keep secure records of students’ assessment outcomes, in case we need to refer to them. You can use the spoken language record forms to do this, or you can keep your own equivalent records.
All four GCSE English Literature texts will be assessed in four separate exams this summer. All students will take Shakespeare along with two of the remaining three texts. To achieve this this summer, we have been given two examination slots. In each slot, there are two separate exams so exam papers will be put out and collected in before and after each exam. The two slots are as follows.
25 May 2022:
8 June 2022:
Where all students are taking two exams in the same timeslot, i.e. modern texts and 19c novels, or poetry and Shakespeare, the centre can decide in which order they give students these exam papers. Students must still be given the two papers separately rather than both together as they are, in effect, two separate exams. You cannot give students both papers at the same time.
Where students are sitting one paper in a timetabled slot, such as modern prose or 19c novel, they can sit that one paper at 9.00am and can leave the exam hall after that exam time has ended.
Ofqual has confirmed the approach to grading for summer 2022. The approach is intended to get back to the pre-pandemic standard but not in one jump. 2022 will therefore be a ‘transition year’ that recognises disruption and provides a safety net for students who might otherwise just miss out on a higher grade.
Results overall will be higher than in 2019, but not as high as in 2020. The aim is for 2022 to ‘reflect a midway point between 2021 and 2019’ with the ‘aim to return to results that are in line with those in pre-pandemic years’ in 2023.
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_English. You can also sign up to subject updates and receive email information about English resources and support.
Keeley is responsible for a portfolio of English qualifications including both GCSEs. Keeley joined the English team in 2014, leading on the development of GCSE English Language and supporting first teaching of the new specification. Prior to joining OCR, Keeley spent two years teaching abroad. In her spare time, she enjoys travelling, reading and swimming.
Isobel has particular responsibility for the A Level English qualification suite. She previously worked as a classroom teacher in a co-educational state secondary school, with three years as second-in-charge in English with responsibility for Key Stage 5. In addition to teaching all age groups from Key Stage 3 to 5, Isobel worked with the University of Cambridge’s Faculty of Education as a mentor to PGCE trainees. Prior to this, she studied for an MA in Film, Television and Screen Media with Birkbeck College, University of London while working as a learning support assistant at a large state comprehensive school.