English Gcse Coursework Grades

The UK's largest examination board has called for an end to coursework counting towards pupils' GCSE grades in England, labelling it as cumbersome, open to abuse and "disliked by many teachers and loathed in some subjects".

The report by the OCR exam board comes as the Department for Education and the exams regulator Ofqual mull proposals to revise GCSEs, including the role of coursework, known as "controlled assessment".

Mark Dawe, the board's chief executive, said: "OCR recognises that the way coursework is currently assessed in the classroom fails to give reliable results. It's time for a major rethink on coursework so that everyone can have full confidence in the exam system."

Michael Gove, the education secretary, said this year that internal assessment such as coursework "should be kept to a minimum and used only where there is a compelling case to do so", making grades dependent on a final examination at the end of two years' study.

Controlled assessment – work done in the classroom, supervised by teachers under exam conditions – was introduced in 2009. The amount of coursework currently used towards final grades for each subject varies, with up to 60% of marks in GCSE English coming from coursework, compared with 25% in science.

The OCR report says internally assessed coursework is vulnerable to being abused by schools. Although it stops short of accusing schools of cheating, the report makes reference to schools using coursework to "optimise students' grades", and "upward-tilted marking" caused by "potential leniency".

"[Teachers] are torn between needing to continually improve their exam results and yet also to be impartial assessors of their pupils' coursework," said Dawe.

Among the alternatives to teacher-led assessment, the report suggests exam boards conduct assessments through school visits, but notes that this would be "frighteningly expensive, and complex to organise".

Some educationalists argue that removing coursework could disproportionately hurt girls' results. For 25 years girls have outperformed boys in most subjects at GCSE level, while some research suggests boys tend to perform more confidently in exams alone.

In a separate submission to Ofqual, OCR said the regulator's plan to replace GCSE letter grades with a numerical grading system of 1 to 8 points would not show a clean break with past exams because it was too close to the old system.

"Where the old and new grades can be readily equated, there are huge pressures and disadvantages both for pupils on the old system and pupils who are exposed to the first five or so years of the new system," OCR wrote.

OCR also objected to Ofqual's statement that GCSE performance should be used to hold schools accountable. "Exam results are only one indicator by which a school should be held accountable, and not the only one. There are a wide range of factors such as teaching quality, access for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, pastoral care, leadership which need to be accounted for, and focusing too heavily on examination results can have detrimental effects on the others," OCR said.

The Department for Education said: "We agree that unnecessary coursework undermines the reliability of assessment. That is why we want to cut back on coursework, modules and controlled assessment. These reforms will restore confidence in GCSEs and tackle grade inflation.

"We have asked Ofqual to review how we might limit coursework and controlled assessment. Ofqual's consultation ended this week."

 
  1. I'm in year 10 going into year 11 in September, and I need help on how to get A*-A in GCSE English Language and English Literature. This includes what you need to be doing right in your coursework; most importantly the original writing task and An Inspector Calls essay.

    thanks and your sound advice and opinions are accepted

    Last edited by intellect212; 26-08-2010 at 19:18. Reason: to make it better
  2. For English Coursework what the examiners are looking for are mainly orginality for the A*. This means, put something in that your teacher didn't tell you to that you think fits well to show you are capable of independent thinking. This is good for your exam as well, especially when it comes to poetry as the examiners are going to be reading many many papers full of the same opinions over and over again. And you should think about standing out in a positive way.

    I've personally found looking at the markscheme for English Coursework very unhelpful. They are often too complicated to be too helpful and it is better not to structure your essay around a mark scheme anyway as it will be exceedingly obvious when your teacher marks it. If you are allowed, always write your coursework on the computer. Not only will spellcheck make grammar and spelling mistakes occur less often in your essays, I found that I find it easier than handwriting.

    For orginal writing, try to use more complicated punctuation such as the semi-colon (correctly of course). Try to vary your sentence lengths and structures as well. Although reading something full of short simple sentences is boring, reading something with only complex compound ones are not much better. The story has to be engaging and gripping. You need a "hook" to draw the readers in, excuse the cliche.

    For An Inspector Calls, I would suggest using sparknotes and other such materials to help you analyze. You shouldn't be copying anything from these though, but they are often very useful whilst writing your essay, especially if you have no clue where to start on it. If you are trying to get your coursework up to a higher standard, try to be more specific in your analysis, taking specific words or phrases to analyze instead of quoting huge sections and summing it up.

    Good luck with your English!

  3. weiaoyl pretty much summed it up but yeah originality is important

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