Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment

Frequently Asked Questions

How much are candidates expected to write in an AS and an A2 answer?

For average-sized handwriting within our answer booklets, examiners would have a basic expectation of about three sides for each AS answer and four for each A2 one – this equates to the new specification’s 1½ hours for each AS paper and 2 hours for each A2 paper, and two answers being required for each paper. As much as they possibly can within the time available, prose should be legible, grammatical, succinct and relevant.

How many artworks should I cover for each practitioner?

The variations in subject content and the need to maintain comparability of demand, means only general guidance can be given here. For the ‘average’ section: with 3.2 subsections and 13.4 specified practitioners, examiners would expect candidates to be able to treat about three major artworks for each practitioner. Correspondingly more artworks would be expected to be treated where the subsections / practitioners number fewer than average and correspondingly fewer artworks would be expected to be treated where the subsections/ practitioners number more than average.

Are all practitioners and works cited in an answer expected to be dated?

The specification’s mark schemes state: “Principal practitioners and works relevant to the examination question should be dated on first mention. Basic biographies should be provided for these principal practitioners”. The examiners expect to be fully referenced only those practitioners relating directly to the chosen question and also named within the specification. Practitioners and works cited for the purposes of merely establishing context or significance need not be provided with full names/titles and dates, although candidates willing and able to give this information will be credited. Principal practitioners’ forenames and principal works’ dates are only expected to be given on first mention within an essay: there is no need for repetition. Similarly, after first mention, lengthy or cumbersome titles of works can be reasonably shortened, although not to the point of using acronyms.

Are there specific works that should be covered?

CCEA does not prescribe texts or specific works to be studied. The works chosen should properly reflect the specified content and practitioners listed in the specification.

To take Graphic Design 1850–1945 (section AS2.9), as an example: any of Toulouse-Lautrec’s poster designs would be appropriate choices. Any of his ‘fine art’ works would be inappropriate, except in so far as they were being used to help establish the practitioner’s artistic context and/or significance.

Could a question for one subject section be answered using content from another?

Providing there is nothing within the question itself precluding it, examiners will allow use of content from another section. Where discussion is to establish context or argue significance, rather than focus on specific examples, there are no chronological restrictions or penalties.

Questions referring to particular movements will clearly not be answerable in this way as the sections specify different movements. Candidates would also need to ensure the dating disparities between these sections can be accommodated: students can use without penalty examples of works up to five years outside any of the chronological section boundaries. Over five years and up to a maximum of fifteen years, penalties will be progressively imposed.

How is comparability of demand achieved across subject sections when the quantity of content varies?

Our subject inevitably has such variations. Roman Sculpture (A21.1), for instance, contains 3 subsections and no named practitioners whilst Sculpture 1945–present (A21.9) has 6 subsections and 33 named practitioners. Across AS and A2 the average is 3.2 subsections and 13.4 practitioners per section. Where the breadth of knowledge demanded exceeds these averages, examiners will have a correspondingly lower expectation in terms of depth of knowledge and understanding. Where the breadth of knowledge demanded falls below these averages there will be a correspondingly higher expectation.

To what extent do Communication marks take account of an answer’s relevance to the question?

Our Communication assessment criterion and its performance descriptors (see the AS and A2 Generic Mark Schemes) require an examiner to be satisfied that the answer is a serious response to the question, that there is coherence not only within the answer itself but between the question and the answer. An answer that is insufficient or limited/problematic in relation to this fundamental examining requirement can receive only a Level 1 or Level 2 Communication mark. Beyond this, relevance, or its lack, is dealt with in terms of the Knowledge, Understanding and, at A2, Synopsis assessment criteria.

With AS1 section 7 entitled “Painting 1880–1945”, am I expected to cover work earlier than that actually specified for such as Matisse and Picasso?

You are not expected to cover in detail, say, Picasso’s Blue and Rose Periods, except perhaps briefly by way of providing context for Cubism. The dating from 1880 is solely to encompass early works of Independent Expressionists Ensor and Munch. All four other subsections specify dates within the years 1880–1945: Fauvism, c. 1899–1908; Cubism, c. 1907–1914; Futurism, c. 1909–1915; and Die Brücke and Der Blaue Reiter, c. 1905–1914.

With only one question per subject section, should I cover more than one section in each Part as a form of insurance?

Teachers and students are of course free to cover as much as they wish, but it should be noted that a breadth of choice should not be at the expense of depth of knowledge and understanding. A scan of past papers should confirm, questions are quite generally framed and worded carefully to ensure optimum accessibility.

In the Graphic Design 1850–1945 section (AS2.9), is it solely the practitioners’ commercial work that should be covered or does ‘graphic design’ extend to photography and painting?

In any of our subject sections, the major part of the coverage should be on the art form specified within the period specified and in relation to the practitioners/movements/themes specified. However, a minor part of coverage is expected to go beyond this in the interest of establishing context and/or significance. For this particular section, ‘fine art’ contributions are especially relevant to 3 of the 17 specified practitioners: Toulouse-Lautrec (specified also in French Painting 1860–1900, section A21.4), El Lissitzky and Rodchenko (specified also in Lens-based Art 1850–1945, section AS1.6, and in Painting 1910–1945, section AS1.8).

It must be emphasized that such non-graphic design references should be brief – quoting from the mark schemes: “The major part of each answer should not be contextual but, rather, drawn from the subject content to directly address the question”. Please see page 3 at the beginning of each of the AS mark schemes.

What is the margin for error as regards dates? For example, what happens if a student answers a question on Architecture 1945–1970 and bases his/her answer on a work dated 1938?

There is a standard tolerance of 5–15 years across any of our chronological section boundaries (Specification, p. 10), so , for a question on 1945–1970 material, an answer based on a 1938 example would incur only a minimal penalty under our Knowledge assessment criterion. The recorded dates of architectural works, especially, also tend to vary between authorities, depending upon when exactly the design stage is considered to begin and the building stage to end. Our study note on Frank Lloyd Wright, for instance, has his Falling Water dated 1935–39. As examiners are instructed to give candidates the benefit of any doubt, that particular example, if used in a 1945–1970 Architecture answer, would be treated as 1939, with a minimal penalty.

CCEA Curriculum Monitoring Programme 2018-19