1 Jul 2013

What is a Controlled Assessment in English? FAQs for AQA

This is a post for a student studying AQA English. OCR, WJEC, Edexcel and Cambridge are coming soon...

What is a controlled assessment in English? This a bit like an exam but you do it broken up over several lessons, during your normal timetabled English lessons.

For English Language for AQA you will do an English Language exam, which is now worth 60% of the final grade as Speaking and Listening has now been abolished (sobs).

You will also do controlled assessments in:
1. Creative Writing 1: a story 7.5% of total grade
2. Creative Writing 2: a description or review (or similar) also 7.5% of total grade. Find out more about Creative Writing here.
3. Reading - you will write an essay about a novel, usually Of Mice and Men. This will count for 20% of your total grade.
4. Spoken Language - you study how people use language and analyse a language transcript like this one. Find out more about Spoken Language here.

Speaking and Listening has three assessments, done in front of the whole class, with your teacher. Each one counts for approximately 7% of your total grade to a total of 20%. [1] drama (or role play, or talking in character), [2] interactive group speech, maybe a debate, [3] speech or talk to the class.
This has now been abolished.

English Literature for AQA is mostly done by exam which is worth 75% of the total grade. You will also do one, huge controlled assessment, which is worth 25%, which is either Shakespeare and pre-1900 poetry; or poetry. Whichever one you don't do for controlled assessment, you will do in the exam.

Can I re-do controlled assessments? Not usually. Sometimes students are allowed to have a second attempt at creative writing. Don't expect it though.

How long will each assessment last? Some are one to two hours. Some are five or six in total - though they may be slightly broken up.

When will I find out the Question Title? You will be told the question title just before you start your plan.

If you don't put quotes in your controlled assessment, will you get a lower grade?
If your assessment is literature, then yes. You need to quote. 

How much should I quote?
Don't quote massive chunks - a block of 1-5 words is enough. You should aim to have 3-4 quotes per 8 lines (roughly) if you're aiming for an A*. Fewer than two quotes per paragraph is bad. No quotes is terrible.

Can I plan it? Yes. You make a plan during controlled conditions - i.e. during the lesson, with books open. You're not allowed to write full sentences, and are not supposed to write the entire essay out so that you can copy it up. Some schools recommend you write no more than thirty words. Some write a lot more. Often, students write their entire essay or story in advance and memorise it. I'm not sure how good an idea this is, though I do think it's a good idea to practise ahead of time.

Can I use phrases from my plan in my essay or story? Yes.

Can I put quotations on my plan? Yes.

Will my teacher check my plan? Yes. If it looks like chunks from an essay, you will have to re-do it.

Who marks my controlled assessment? Your teacher. Therefore, if your teacher gives you 'suggestions' for what to include, make sure you do. They will expect you to include it.

Who makes sure the marking is fair? The department will standardise and compare marks at the end of the GCSE. The exam board then calls up a random sample from the school to make sure that marking is fair. Teachers are trained in how to mark in a standard way.

The author, , is an Oxford graduate, outstanding-rated English Language and Literature teacher of ages 10-18 in the British education system. In 2012, she was nominated for Pearson's Teaching Awards. As a private tutor, she raises grades often from C to A. Her writing is also featured in The Huffington Post
More analysis for Moon on the Tides