Lucy Carey, OCR Psychology 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 asked at our GCSE Psychology Q&A event. There is a separate blog looking at AS and A Level Psychology H567.
When the awarding bodies met to discuss AI, the brief was to ensure the advance information could be provided to help support students with their revision, while avoiding providing so much detail that answers to likely questions could be pre-prepared and memorised. We had to ensure that AI does not undermine the value of the qualification in supporting student progression or compromise the capability of the examinations to sufficiently differentiate between students’ performances.
AI therefore provides a focus for student revision and remaining teaching and learning time. It is not intended to remove content taught.
The focus of AI wasn’t to reduce content but to focus student revision for the forthcoming exams. There is still an expectation that all content is covered and all should be revised. Nothing has been ‘cut’ from the specification, but the AI should be used to help focus student revision on the areas highlighted.
Is this everything students need to know? No, the AI advice and guidance on the front page says that it provides “key areas of focus for revision”, but that you should “cover all the specification content”. Questions in the exam will require students to draw upon knowledge not listed in the AI. It is important, therefore, that students have a good understanding of all the specification content.
As the JCQ guidance indicates, and as detailed in the introductory notes of our summary document, “the breadth, depth and presentation of the AI 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. As an example, OCR is unique in that we have a whole exam paper that assesses research methods, whereas other exam boards embed them in their assessments, which is one reason for our AIs appearing to be different. All AI was also reviewed by JCQ and Ofqual for comparability.
AI is also part of a package to support students and shouldn’t be viewed as a stand-alone piece of information. This year’s approach to grading will mean students have additional support and can feel confident that the grades awarded to them will be fair and take into consideration the difficulties they have faced over the past few years.
They could still be assessed. The AI identifies the topics that are the major focus of each paper, but this does not mean that topics not listed will not be assessed. A topic not listed could still be assessed, but will not be the main focus. Listing all topics that are in the exams that could lead to excessive teaching or revision on areas that are worth few marks.
Students should still be taught all of the content of the specification and should be encouraged to revise all of the specification content as well. However, the AI helps them focus more revision time on the topics.
We are not able to give percentages or number of marks relating to either the topics included in the advance information or those excluded. However, the topics given in the AI cover the majority of the marks available on the assessments and remain the focus of the exam.
The advice and guidance on the front page of the AI details that the AI sets out the ‘main focus of the content of the exam.’ However, the absence of the phrase you highlighted “including evaluation” elsewhere in the AI does not mean that the weaknesses of other core studies, or the strengths/weakness of the methods inherent to those studies, cannot be addressed elsewhere on the papers.
This matches my guidance in the webinar that content from across the specification should be taught and that AI cannot detail everything that is in the examination.
The AI does give you the “key areas to focus on” – but there is some content that is not in the AI that is in the assessment.
Ofqual has confirmed the approach to grading for 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.
We have now published question papers and mark schemes for 2019, 2020 and 2021 GCSE Psychology J203. November 2021 question papers and mark schemes are on Interchange. We have also published a Guide to 13 mark questions, and a Command terms poster, and you can listen to our “Ask the Examiner” session for tips about marking and common mistakes students make.
If you have any questions about this summer’s assessment and would like to talk to us, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter at @ocr_Psychology. You can also sign up to subject updates and receive email information about resources and support.
Lucy joined OCR in September 2017 as the Subject Advisor for Sociology and Psychology. Before joining OCR she worked as a teacher and as the head of Sociology and Psychology departments in Peterborough, Yorkshire and Cambridge. In her spare time, she enjoys scuba diving and travel.