The written paper lasts 1 hour and 30 minutes. Candidates answer compulsory, structured questions based on two or more sources provided. Questions will require both short and longer responses. The stimulus material provided may express different perspectives on issues of global significance taken from the topics listed in the syllabus.
Candidates will not be assessed on their knowledge and understanding of the specific issues represented in the stimulus material. Instead, candidates will be assessed on their thinking and reasoning skills focused mainly on analysing and evaluating arguments, evidence and contexts.
Deconstruction Analyse and evaluate conclusions, arguments, reasoning or claims What are the different perspectives represented? What are the key components of the argument or claim? What are the implications of the conclusions, arguments, reasoning or claims? What are the strengths and weaknesses of arguments, reasoning or claims? Is there a valid conclusion or claim?
Sample format of Questions for Paper 1
Question breakdown Q1 (a) - Designed as an easy start – 2 marks Q1 (b) - continue in the comfort zone – 4 marks Q2 - Analysing the passage for strengths and weaknesses and then evaluating to come to a judgement about how convincing the passage is – 12 marks Q3 – Same process really – Doc 2 needs to be analysed and then put up against Doc 1. Which is more convincing and why? – 14 marks
A new standard paper 1 approach: With the new syllabus setters aim to follow the same basic format below as closely as possible depending on the nature of the passage etc. when writing the papers: Q1 = 6 marks with the split changing as necessary. Could be 1a = 2 marks, 1b = 4 marks or just 1 = 6 marks. Q2 and Q3 will split the remaining marks dependent on what the passage offers e.g. 2 = 10 marks, 3 = 14 marks; 2 = 12 marks and 3 = 12 marks etc. There is also be a new mark scheme with a generic approach
Candidates may use a variety of criteria to evaluate the evidence and no set criteria are to be expected. At the higher levels candidates may consider both the strengths and weaknesses of the evidence, although it is likely that most answers will focus on the weaknesses. In evaluating this evidence candidates might consider whether any statistics are reliable or representative and whether they support the claim. At the higher levels candidates do need to link their evaluation to the actual question set. Award a maximum of three marks for identifying the evidence and a maximum of three marks for the evaluation of the evidence. Candidates should go beyond simple evaluative comment!
Key concepts – Critical Assessment At the highest level this will be explained rather than asserted Goes beyond one aspect Is explicit The view is structured Evaluate strengths and weaknesses Identify flaws Assess the use of analogy Assess any counter argument Evaluate strengths or weaknesses in the reasoning by identifying flaws and showing how far they weaken reasoning
This is a level of response mark scheme What is required is SUSTAINED evaluation, not just comments There should be a BALANCE between strengths and weaknesses – i.e. both should be taken into account – there is not an expectation that they will be equally balanced The reasoning should be highly effective, accurate and clearly expressed There should be a STRUCTURE There should be cogent and convincing JUDGEMENT
What does this mean? Sustained evaluation – not just intermittent critical comment or description There should be some attempt to consider both strengths and weaknesses – though the aim is deconstruction, this does not mean total demolition Consideration of flaws and reference to the language of criticism are important, but candidates should not apply critical terms mechanically; they should be explained and used Effective explanation and reasoning means that there is some developed explanation and the view convinces. “The argument is weak because it appeals to history” isn’t convincing – why is the appeal to history unconvincing? Why is the analogy unconvincing?
Is this better? The author appeals to history, but this may not be valid. What applied to one period may not be true of today. The Victorian reforms applied to one country and were undertaken in a different context. The author is applying changes in one developed country to changes in different, less developed countries in an international not a national context..
Effective reasoning and judgements Assertions do not convince Assumptions do not convince Prejudice does not convince There should be a judgement and not merely a resume of the points in the argument The answer should be organized and not merely a series of observations The conclusion should follow from the points made
Question 2 Compare the alternative perspectives (i.e. views, arguments and conclusions) in the two documents Refer to key reasons and evidence State and explain your own reasoned judgement about how far the perspective in one extract challenges the other. Highly effective accurate and clearly expressed explanation (of differences) which is structured. This means that key differences/similarities are identified. Candidates deconstruct the passages and then compare/contrast on a point by point basis. Consecutive descriptions will not meet this criterion.
Sustained evaluation; critical assessment The answer is not merely a ‘spot the differences’ piece of comprehension Higher level comparison will judge the relative effectiveness and quality of argument of the two passages There will be a judgement about their relative value and nature which follows from the analysis
Some key indicators in assessment Is the answer reliant on describing elements of the passage? Is there a judgement at all about the passage(s)? Is the judgement developed and explained or dependent on assertion or application of learnt criteria ? Is there a sense of developed critical deconstruction based on genuine analysis and consideration of the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments?
Assessment and Teaching There are different skills here, some of which candidates will have already and some which they will need to acquire or develop Is it worthwhile asking them to consider what skills they have from previous courses that are relevant? Is it worthwhile making it quite clear what skills they will need and how to assess whether they are developing those skills appropriately?
The basic skills Reading and understanding an extended passage Picking out the evidence that the author uses Can candidates actually compare the content of passages point by point? When have candidates done the above before? Can all of them actually do this, and to what level?
Evaluation This may not have been an explicitly demanded skill before. When have candidates had to make a supported judgement about a view, argument, proposition? Is there experience to build on? How is progress going to be measured?
How are you going to measure the level of skills acquisition rather than knowledge? Differentiation is particularly important here There is likely to be a very different development rate here, as acquisition of content is not involved, so intellectual skills are being tested in a ‘pure’ way It is important that able students are challenged and those who find this type of thinking more challenging are encouraged
Some teaching issues To manage different rates of learning To encourage all abilities to discuss To avoid students taking short cuts To overcome prejudices about contemporary issues To ensure that skills feed back into other subjects To ensure that the broader picture – enrichment and opening minds – does not get lost and that deconstruction does not become nit-picking and negative To promote a sense of achievement and pride in progress during the course
Some possible solutions Students and teachers have a clear idea of the different skills levels attained and what is needed to develop and improve skills Discussion is specifically expected, valued and rewarded All colleagues are aware of the skills being taught in GP and are encouraged to refer to them and reward their application.