Grant Robertson, Lead Subject Advisor
For many of you, this year might be the first time you’ve sat a public exam. We know how difficult this can be for you. We appreciate the uncertainty and anxiety that many of you will be having in the lead up to the exams. We want to support you as best we can during this period of your lives, and we hope this blog will give you some further insight into what advance information is and how it will support your revision this summer.
Advance information has now been released and we wanted to answer some of the questions you have about it. It’s worth noting that not everything in this blog will apply to your subject but if you’re in any doubt, contact us and we’ll be happy to help.
Advance information is intended to communicate in advance some of the aspects of the specification that will be assessed in the summer 2022 exam papers. (For full details, see the document published by JCQ.)
Advance information will give you revision guidance for aspects of the summer 2022 exams. This could be in the form of:
It won’t provide you with the questions that will come up and won’t be at a level that would make questions predictable, but it will give you support in focussing your revision.
Advance information will look different in each subject for lots of reasons. The different styles of specification and exams means that different approaches are needed. However, it’s important to remember that the advance information for a subject will be similar across different exam boards.
Advance information will help focus your revision for the summer 2022 exams. You can start using it straightaway. It is only available from our website and you can find it using our advance information finder. This means that you can access all the subjects you need in one go, without having to navigate loads of different webpages. Every relevant qualification page also includes a direct link to it.
You can use advance information in many ways: in classroom discussions, in checklists and in targeted revision activities focussing on the content of the document. As it’s available on our main website, you can use and read it whenever you need to. We’d love to hear of your experiences with it – so please do get in contact with us to share your views.
Advance information won’t necessarily cover everything in the exam. For some aspects of the exams in some subjects you might need to draw upon content not listed in the advance information. This will often be the case for questions that carry very few marks (sometimes referred to as ‘low tariff’ questions) and questions that draw upon different areas of knowledge, skills and/or understanding from across the course (these are called ‘synoptic’ questions). The advance information will help to focus revision on the areas worth the most marks. The instructions given in the advance information will give more information about what is included in it.
As a result, it is important that you have a good understanding of all content areas across all your subjects. This will make sure you are fully prepared for the summer exams.
While this will vary between different specifications and assessments, ‘tariff’ is the number of marks allocated to a given question.
As an example, the following was a question on our GCSE Citizenship specimen material:
‘First-past-the-post’ is the election system used in the UK for general elections. State one other example of an election system used in the UK’
It is worth a single mark and so is a low tariff question.
On the other hand, the following question carries 12 marks so would be a high tariff question
‘Use your knowledge and understanding from across the whole Citizenship course to evaluate the following viewpoint: Nobody does more to protect people’s rights in the UK than those who own and work for media organisations’
As mentioned, what a ‘low tariff’ and ‘high tariff’ question look like will be different in different subjects. Usually, the more you have to do beyond simply giving a single word or sentence response, the more likely it is to be a ‘high tariff’ question.
It may also be the case that some questions that are considered ‘low tariff’ are covered by advance information provided for ‘high tariff’ questions if an area of content were to appear in different questions.
Not every subject’s advance information will focus solely on high tariff aspects of the exams, so this might not be applicable to you. If in doubt, please do ask your teacher or contact us.
An FAQ on advance information makes this point:
Advance information is being provided to support revision, but the information provided still needs to avoid predictability or the possibility of being able to identify questions in advance. By focusing on higher tariff questions, the advance information does not risk undermining the qualification, but does help students and teachers focus revision on the areas worth most marks.
High tariff questions are not necessarily the hardest questions on a paper. Often the longer essay style questions are the ones designed to be accessible to everyone and to enable you to get some marks based on your relative ability. It is entirely possible that some of smallest mark questions on the paper are designed to be some of the hardest. This won’t be the case on every paper and in every specification.
With these longer mark questions, it’s not necessarily the difficulty of the question – a lot of essays are quite simple in what they want you to do. The trick is knowing what information is needed to answer them.
Having advance information on what could be covered in the high tariff parts of the exam should help focus your revision and provide you with the knowledge you need to better respond to those types of questions.
We do appreciate that this is something you would like to know, but unfortunately, it’s not something we are able to give you. To simply list which questions are included could lead to predictability of questions and undermine the qualification. It could be unhelpful to you and your teachers, for example by listing topics that could lead to excessive teaching or revision on areas that are worth few marks. By giving all the low tariff information as well, it could also be the case that the whole specification is then listed, which would be less help!
Do make sure you are talking to your teachers if you have any concerns or worries. We also have a dedicated page for you, which contains all the information you need as well as revision tips and some articles and advice on well-being and support.
Grant Robertson – Lead Subject Advisor
Grant started working at OCR in February 2014 and is a lead subject advisor and advises on history. His degree is in History and Politics, with a focus on modern European and African history and 19th century political thought. Previously, Grant was a Head of Politics, Law and Humanities in schools in Kent and Kingston upon Thames. Outside of work he is an F1 junkie, a passionate Charlton Athletic fan and spending time with his family.