2021 Assessment Guidelines: What you need to know (from OCR)

Last week, I joined other RS teachers (virtually) for a Q/A session with Ewan Brady (from OCR) who tried to shed some light on the final weeks ahead. Here is a summary of what was said: 


  • Use a ‘range’ of different types of evidence from various parts of the course. Be “consistent as possible” – apply the same across all students (including setting the same questions if a student misses original assessment). 
  • “Most recent evidence is most accurate” – Holistic view at end.  A “greater weight to the more recent.”  
  • There is no minimum or maximum amount of evidence “not a specific number.”  Provide enough for a “clear picture” but essentially it is based on what each individual teacher/ centre “class as sufficient.” There is no “hierarchy of evidence.” 

Setting and marking assessments: 

  • Do not use 2020 grade boundaries as the exam was “set to a different standard”. 
  • No expectation that your grades should be capped. Not based on previous years (historical data). 
  • Be cautious of grading individual essays. 
  • If you have adapted your own questions following “Ofqual centre devised tasks” guidelines, whilst this is an “added complication” as you have to use your own mark schemes, apply the levels of response and remain fair and consistent to all your students. 
  • Final grading is based on an “overall impression [of] what you have actually seen in front of you.”  

Key message repeated throughout is that it is “up to you how you organise it [and] what you include.” Grading should be based on “performance over range and time and professional judgement.”  

Provided by the exam board: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHnkck3V0TA 

I left the meeting feeling supported by OCR but I still have a few concerns:

Continue reading “2021 Assessment Guidelines: What you need to know (from OCR)”

Essay Writing Top Tips

Are you missing out on those top grades? Are you struggling to know how to improve your essays? These might help:

  1. Have you used technical terms/ glossary words throughout your essay?
  2. Have you added extra details, stats etc? E.g Scottish philosopher David Hume (Check out to help: https://ithinkthereforeiteach.com/going-for-gold-achieving-that-a/)
  3. Have you added a variety of extra names, specific current examples, quotes, synoptic links (A01)? Have you evaluated each one fully and linked to your line of argument (A02)?
  4. Have you taken apart the WHOLE question and used it throughout your essay? (Do not ignore any word in the question. All words in the question have been carefully and specifically selected, so use them and engage with their meaning…unless ‘analyse’, ‘evaluate’ or ‘discuss’ as these are what the examiners want you to actually do in your answer).
  5. Have you asked yourself ‘so what?’ or ‘why?’ after you think you have made an evaluation point? A lot of the time students state evaluation but do not justify. You can spot this by questioning your points and if you have written WHY they are relevant to the Q/ your line of argument (Check out: https://ithinkthereforeiteach.com/are-you-arguing-with-me/ and https://ithinkthereforeiteach.com/writing-the-perfect-part-b/)

I hope these help. If you have any questions or problems, please feel free to drop me an email.

Good luck with all your essay writing and assessments 🙂

Check out these videos for further help:

There are a lot of revision resources including Revision Packs (which contain glossaries of key words and possible exam questions), Key Knowledge Tests (assess your basic knowledge of each topic) and Revision Support (e.g https://ithinkthereforeiteach.com/product/revision-activities-new-spec-a-level/ which has activities, synoptic link ideas and key knowledge assessors) in the Shop. Just click on the image below to be transferred: