Debbie Williams, Computer Science, IT and Creative iMedia Subject Advisor
In this blog I’ll share information about the exam for the Cambridge National in IT (J836) and suggest some resources. R050: IT in the digital world is the exam. It is all about design and testing concepts for creating an IT solution or product, and the uses of IT in the digital world. Topics include:
R050 is worth 40% of the final grade and for it to count it must be taken as a terminal assessment. This means that R050 must be sat after or in the same series that the students’ work for the NEA units R060 and R070 are moderated. This will usually be May of year 11 but could be earlier if the work is ready for moderation.
Students can be entered for R050 before all the NEA units are completed. This is classed as a practice attempt and it does not count towards the students overall grade.
Students can resit the exam. For example, if a student enters the NEA units and sits the exam in January then they could resit the exam in May. One thing to note is that if a student takes the exam again, it is the result of the latest attempt that will count towards the qualification result, even if the earlier result was higher.
More information about the terminal exam rule can be found on page 49 of the specification.
Each Cambridge National qualification has related performance objectives. There are four performance objectives in the Cambridge National in IT:
PO4 will not be assessed in the exam, only in the NEA tasks. PO1 to PO3 will be tested in the terminal exam.
PO1 focuses on students recalling knowledge. Many PO1 questions will be low tariff questions – they will only be worth one or two marks. Students will usually only need to answer using one or two words or a sentence at most. Many of the early questions on the paper will assess PO1.
The assessment of PO2 and PO3 comes later in the paper. PO2 requires students to apply their knowledge and understanding. PO3 needs them to use higher-order skills such as analysis and evaluation. These questions will often be set around a short scenario, so they are easy to spot in the paper. It is vital that students understand the importance of using the information given in the scenario to answer these questions. One way I have encouraged students to do this is to start their answer with the name of the person or company. This supports them to answer in context and forces them to consider the scenario and apply their knowledge and understanding, not just recall it.
Some questions may be a mix of PO1, PO2 and PO3. Any examples students use as part of their answer must be linked to the scenario given in these cases. Good practice is to encourage students to underline key information as they read the question and scenario. They can then use this in their answer and start their response with the name of the person or company.
The specification is split into two columns, Teaching content and Breadth and depth required. The teaching content includes everything that needs to be taught. The breadth and depth column clarifies the range of knowledge and understanding that may be assessed in the exam. It also helpfully lists what a topic ‘does not include’ which tells you what we do not need you to teach and therefore will not be tested in the exam.
For all knowledge questions, students need to be able to identify or recognise a given item and use direct recall to answer the question. Any item that should be taught as knowledge will start with the word “know” in the breadth and depth column. For example, teaching content 2.1, Human Computer Interface (HCI) in everyday life in the specification is as follows:
Students can therefore be assessed on the different display types and sizes as this is something in the breadth and depth column that they need to know. For example, question 2 on the sample paper asks them to identify one display hardware consideration for a Human Computer Interface (HCI).
All other bullet points in the breadth and depth column that don’t start with “know” need to be taught as understanding. Students need to be able to process and apply their knowledge, usually to a scenario. For example, question 15(a)(ii) on the sample paper asks students to explain one advantage and one disadvantage to the customers (for the given scenario) of using a keyboard to interact with the HCI.
You need to make sure you are teaching the content in both the teaching content and the breadth and depth column, as well as teaching it as knowledge or understanding as appropriate.
Appendix B in the specification gives information about the command words that are used in the external assessment. Students should be taught to know what is required for each command word and how the marks are awarded for different questions.
Identify questions are usually one-mark questions where students select an answer from the options given, or name something. The mark is awarded by correctly selecting or naming the item.
Describe questions tend to be two marks per point. These need a detailed account of something, usually using the information in the scenario. For example, students may need to describe something and why it is important for the person or company in the scenario to gain both marks.
The extended response question is marked using a level of response mark scheme and is usually a discuss question. This command word requires students to demonstrate their knowledge and include relevant examples, linked to the scenario. They also need to use technical terminology correctly.
As this is a new course, the first exam is in January 2024 so there are currently no past papers. We have produced a sample paper which is available to all on our public website. We have also produced a practice paper which is held securely on Teach Cambridge so is not visible to students. This would make a good mock paper.
Many of the questions from our legacy J808 papers are relevant to this specification and you could use ExamBuilder to provide practice questions or whole papers to students. Just make sure the question matches the new specification – most do.
Alongside the sample question paper we have developed candidate style answers and a guide to our sample assessment paper to help you understand our philosophy and approach to the exam.
We have also developed a scheme of work for R050 with ideas for teaching and learning and links to resources.
We have endorsed textbooks that you may wish to consider buying. There are also revision guides available to support your students – well worth selling in the school shop.
If you have any questions, you can email us at email@example.com, call us on 01223 553998 or tweet us @OCR_ICT. You can also sign up to receive subject updates information about resources and support.
Debbie joined the computing team in September 2022, bringing her knowledge as a teacher and subject leader for IT, Computing and Creative Media. She has over 20 years’ experience of education working in various settings including state schools, private specialist provision, local authority, and as a marker and moderator for exam boards. She has a degree in Technology Management, a PGCE and a Masters in Teaching and Learning.