Challenges, Pitfalls and Solutions: Dealing with New Linear Specifications.

TempleofdoomThe changes from modular to linear A levels for some has been a trip down memory lane, from teaching linear previously or sitting linear exams themselves. For others (including myself) it feels like entering the Temple of Doom. Selecting an exam board is just the start, from here it is structuring a SOW, researching new material, planning lessons and trying not to forget anything important for September.

So here are some potential challenges or pitfalls that have emerged from those poor souls that have already set the way for linear this year:


  1. Planning a SOW that covers the First Year content with revision time before the first year’s exam. This is obviously only relevant for those students still sitting first year’s exams.
  2. Finding the time to plan the new specification.
  3. Allowing time to standardise fixed assessments, taking into consideration writing new assessment objectives and mark schemes.


  1. Be prepared for text books to be released late.
  2. Write potential past questions and mark schemes when there are few samples available.

Student commitment and motivation:

  1. For students taking a first year exam, finding strategies to motivate them to revise and take the assessments seriously, not seeing it as a “trial exam”
  2. Preparing student resilience –many subject areas have found the sample papers are much harder compared to the old AS papers. Preparing students to be ready for tough questions and adapting old specs to meet these new standards—challenge to keep motivation/morale up.

As teachers we want the solutions not just the problems so here are some helpful tips and solutions that might help you through the transition:

Map the course in weeks and stick to the plan.

Sign up to training – useful to make contacts with other centres and get e- mail addresses of subject officers.

* Check the exam board website regularly for:  support materials, training dates and spec changes.

* Get to grips with new assessment objectives – some specs have new taxonomy and Assessment Objective’s.

* Check Facebook for support groups – it’s a good place to ask questions about unclear aspects of the spec and swap resources with other teachers from different centres. Look up: OCR A Level Religious Studies H173 and H573 Facebook page for fantastic updates for R.S

* Sign up to be an examiner.

Plan more independent learning into the scheme of work – syllabus content is larger and so students need to do more in their own time e.g. Flip Learning.

Be ruthless! Focus on getting through the course rather than fun activities.

Use old papers to help you write some potential exam questions, look at other     questions used by other specifications and adjust them to suit your specifications Assessment Objectives.

* To motivate students emphasize to students that university places will still look at first year marks – so even if you get a D in the first year and can continue the course your predicted grade for university will be effected.


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