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)”

A02 Flexible Criticisms

After drowning in assessments and essay marking for the last few weeks, I have a small window free from marking (one and a half days!) so thought I would add a couple of support blogs to assist you through the minefield of your current assessments.

Ever struggle to add in extra names or arguments to develop your A02 marks? These few arguments can be used in multiple different topics and in many different ways to help argue your line of argument and develop your A02:

  • Leap of Logic- this is where a thinker presents arguments then jumps to a conclusion e.g Plato with World of Forms or Augustine that all sin stems from Adam and Eve.
  • Reductionist- this is where an argument is reduced down to a conclusion that can be seen as too simple e.g that humans behave similar to pigeons (Skinner/ behaviourism) or that society is sexist because of Christianity (what about other faiths or the power of the patriarchy for example)
  • God of Gaps– gap in our knowledge and use God as the explanation e.g Prime Mover is the sustainer of motion or cause and effect cannot go back infinity so much be an Uncaused Causer.
  • Burden of Proof– the person making the claim has to back it up with evidence. It is not down to the critic to prove it wrong but down to the claimant to provide the evidence e.g how religious schools cause psychological abuse (Dawkins/ Secularism) or how we develop our superego through the Phallic Stage (Freud)
  • Leibniz Sufficient Reason– there has to be more in the cause than the effect. There has to be sufficient reason as to why things are as they are e.g teleological and design or used to question the Big Bang
  • Flew 10 Leaky Buckets- lots of weak arguments does not make a strong argument e.g religious experience examples
  • Analytical vs Synthetic – statements that are claimed as facts but instead are synthetic statements (need evidence to prove meaningful) e.g God’s existence is self evident
  • G.E.Moore ‘good is indefinable’ – trying to define goodness is like trying to define yellow. It is known through intuition but cannot be defined e.g can be used to question any argument which uses the term ‘good’ (Plato, Problem of Evil, Meta, Conscience etc)

I am sure there are many, many more that can be added but this is a start. Please email me or leave a comment if you have any other ideas 🙂

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:


Help Moving Forward

Hi all,
Due to the Government announcements (finally) we now know that Year 13 students are going to receive a grade given by their teachers. This grade needs to be supported with evidence. With this in mind I have been thinking of ways to support you in preparing your evidence so that it highlights you in the best possible light.

Preparing for mock exams:

On YouTube you will find a number of Lockdown Specials where I go through topics in detail to help develop your understanding of the spec:
First Year:

Second Year:

There a number of blogs to help and support you prepare for any mock exams including examiner’s reports all found under ‘Exam Preparation‘. These will help you understand what examiner’s are looking for and how your teacher’s might be assessing your work.

Revising content:

You will find a number of blogs to support you in your revision found under ‘How do I Revise?’ such as https://ithinkthereforeiteach.com/assessing-the-obvious-key-knowledge-tests/ and

Check out the multiple choice quizzes found under *TEST your Knowledge* such as: Pluralism and Theology Quiz or Body, Mind and Soul Quiz (I will be adding more so keep checking back)

I am recording 5 Minute POP’s of info on each area of the spec found on YouTube:

Writing essays:

You will find a number of blogs to help develop your technique found under ‘Essay Technique‘ such as https://ithinkthereforeiteach.com/going-for-gold-achieving-that-a/ and

There are a number of videos on YouTube supporting Essay writing:

I am planning on doing a number of short videos marking exemplar paragraphs to further support you. Keep an eye on YouTube for these (subscribe if you would like to receive notifications when posted).

Leave me a comment if there is anything else that would help you during this time 🙂