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Which exam board is best for GCSE English? Your thoughts

Discussion in 'English' started by hphill, Aug 27, 2012.

  1. Hi,
    Following this year's results and the fact we have had a few issues in the past with our current exam board (WJEC), we are investigating the possibility of changing.
    I would like to hear other people's opinions and experiences of AQA, OCR and Edexcel and what the pros and cons of each board are please.
    Thanks.
     
  2. Hi,
    Following this year's results and the fact we have had a few issues in the past with our current exam board (WJEC), we are investigating the possibility of changing.
    I would like to hear other people's opinions and experiences of AQA, OCR and Edexcel and what the pros and cons of each board are please.
    Thanks.
     
  3. Hi,
    I've had experience of teaching 3 of the 4 exam boards this year (don't ask) and have found that OCR is the best exam board.
    Initially we were with Edexcel (or Edex-hell as I know like to call them) which was a decision made before I took up the role of Head of Department in the Faculty. The major difference between this board and other exam boards for Eng/Lang is that the non-fiction and media section is through controlled assessment rather than exam - the students did not respond well to this at all! Also, one of the questions on the exam paper is on Shakespeare, but it's a closed text exam. Our lower end thought that George went out with Juliet so it was completely inaccessible for them. The only good things we found about Edexcel were the Literature poetry (accessible, interesting and varied) and the Results plus programme. We've also had conflicting advice from the board, so it's safe to say that we didn't have much trust in them.
    We did the AQA legacy spec with our last year 11 cohort, which ineveitably left us with students who did not achieve the all important C, so had to retake their English on the new spec. For these students, I decided not to go with Edexcel. After studying the other exam boards, I settled for OCR and I have to say, it's the best decision I've made.There were no hidden surprises in the exam and the support we've recieved has been excellent. So far I only have experience of the English-only course, but my department (with no exceptions) have found it simple and accessible. The main difference with this board is that there is a precis style question - but if the students are given a technique for answering this question and lots of practice, then they have no problems.
    I also coached some students who were doing the WJEC course. When deciding which board to go with, WJEC would have been my second choice, but the major advantage with OCR is that 60% of the course is through controlled assessment, whereas with WJEC it's 40% and our students do much better with controlled assessments than exams. Also, one of the controlled assessment tasks for WJEC is a comparison betwen poetry (I did Wilfred Owen) and a Shakespeare play (Romeo and Juliet) which is a tall order for some of the students. With OCR, these are separate tasks with no comparison.
    I hope this helps.
    Cathy
     
  4. CandysDog

    CandysDog Established commenter

    I'm afraid you're mistaken. For the new spec, all boards are 60% CA (including 20% S&L) for English Language and English and 25% CA for English Literature.
     
  5. Thanks for pointing that out. As the board I've been with was already at 60% Controlled Assessment, this change didn't affect me so I wasn't aware. I was only explaining what I found out what in January when I did my research.
     
  6. CandysDog

    CandysDog Established commenter

    I'm not quite sure I understand. All boards have had identical controlled assessment (or coursework) to exam ratios since, I think, 1994.
    From 1994 to 2011, all boards were 40% coursework (including 20% S&L) for English and 30% coursework for English Literature.
    (The only exception I've ever know to this was the 2004-2011 OCR spec, which allowed 100% exam as an alternative to the traditional coursework model.)
    Form 1988-1993, boards had complete control. Most students followed 100% coursework syllabi.
    When choosing a board, the CA to exam ratio does not come into it.
     
  7. Thank you, that's really useful and it fits in with what I am already thinking. It's just useful to know what boards are like to work with as well as how others have found teaching the spec.
     

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