A better way to make GCSE assessments?

This blog entry is designed to help point some of you in the right direction when it comes to GCSE science assessments that are delivered in your schools. This year while making our Y10 (new spec) in-house science assessments there have been a couple of sources of information that we have found very useful as a department. These are linked below with a brief description of what they contain.

1) How to make better assessment papers – tips from AQA

From AQA:

Accessibility is about getting the message across clearly without affecting the demand of the question – the content familiarity requirement is still there. Clear language and layout of question papers is important for all students. To ensure that our question papers are clear to all students:

  • a specialist team creates modified question papers for visually impaired students
  • our question papers are also reviewed by representatives of The British Association of Teachers of the Deaf. They tell us if certain words or images could make the question more difficult for some students to access.

Our aim is to assess the science, rather than making it a test of comprehension.

Our accessibility ethos gives all students the best opportunity to get the results they deserve. This booklet gives ‘before’ and ‘after’ examples of questions to show how we refine accessibility.

The booklets they are referring to is this one:

Exam guidance: Making questions clear

Exam guidance: Our exams explained

One specific area our department used to great effect was how to structure the difficulty of the questions through our papers using this particular piece from the booklet. Something we had considered however this schematic gave us a bit more of a structure to follow:

Screen Shot 2017-06-10 at 10.03.50

The second document also allows you to consider how the layout may affect the accessbility. If we make our papersaccording to these documents, then we feel that the pupils will be better prepared for next summer.

2) Assessment guidance: End of Year 10 tests (webinar – on demand)

Get ready for our new, free and secure end of Year 10 science tests for Foundation and Higher Tiers. From the 24 April 2017, there will be two sets of tests available; one set covering Combined Science: Trilogy, including the three separate sciences, and another set covering Combined Science: Synergy.

Join Jane Bryant and Peter Rupkus, our Curriculum Support Managers, as they help you get the most out of these tests. Using examples from our new tests and support resources, they will:

  • explain what the new end of Year 10 tests can do for you
  • discuss how to develop a common understanding of the mark scheme and how to apply it consistently across your department
  • demonstrate the features of our free results analysis tool.

By the end you’ll:

  • feel more confident in marking the end of year 10 science tests
  • understand how to analyse the results with our bespoke tool.

AQA end of Year 10 science tests – marking and analysing your tests

3) TestBase/ExamPro

Online repository for past paper exam questions. We use this for a large number of reasons, home learning, class tasks, and recently with our Y11s prepping them for the upcoming GCSE examinations. Advantages of this software include;

  1. Explore 950 questions and their associated mark schemes. Find the questions you need with just a few clicks.
  2. Browse the topics, then drag and drop questions to create your very own targeted topic tests, class assignments, plenaries and homework that fit perfectly with your scheme of work. Search by a number of criteria such as question type or topic.
  3. Buy Testbase as part of the Transition pack and get key stage 2 and 3 to help your students progress between primary and secondary school. Or buy as part of a secondary bundle to cover your needs from 11 to 16.

Screen Shot 2017-06-10 at 10.15.33

I am more than happy to swap any assessment materials we have created for moderation, discussion or just for a nosey!

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