What can we learn from the GCSE Religious Studies examiner reports?

AQA and Edexcel have released their examiner reports into the first GCSE Religious Studies exams which took place in the summer. The reports overall have been really positive, with students performing well in the new exams. We have summarized the key issues that the examiners found students needed to improve, and gathered some free content that could help you to address these issues.

Key issues

  1. Use of technical terms: students were tripped up by not understanding technical terms and core subject vocabulary e.g. incarnation, sacraments, reconciliation, alms, omnipotent, the divine, diversity, messiah, atonement etc. It is essential that students learn key terms in order to fully understand and tackle the questions, and do not get terms confused between different religions.
  2. Time management: some students were unable to manage their time effectively, providing unnecessarily detailed answers for questions with low-tariff questions. Students then ran out of time so their attempt at the final question was affected.
  3. Use of quotations: many students used religious teachings in a descriptive way rather than using them to support their evaluation and judgement. Sometimes, quotations were used inappropriately. There was an over-reliance on particular quotations e.g. “Love thy neighbour”. When including a quotation students must name the correct religious book, or person, as the source but are not expected to credit the exact verse. Some responses were limited by the simplicity of their arguments and lack of detail, with few clear references to sacred writing, beliefs or teaching.
  4. Not answering the question: students gained limited credit by part answering or not carefully reading the question, for example by ignoring key instructions or command words. In evaluation questions students must argue for and against, and reach a justified conclusion.
  5. Structuring answers: often students answered 4 or 5 mark questions in one long paragraph, making it difficult to pick out the two beliefs or ways being asked for. Students would do well to structure their answers more clearly.

Get ahead for this year

Here are some free resources from the AQA GCSE Religous Studies and GCSE Religious Studies for Edexcel series to help address these issues that came up in the 2018 summer exams, including guidance on exam technique and key words.

AQA A

  • To help your students improve understanding of key terms, use this glossary from the AQA GCSE Religious Studies A (9-1): Christianity Student Book
  • To help improve exam technique as well as how to approach different exam questions, use this extract from the AQA GCSE Religious Studies A (9-1): Christianity Revision Guide
  • Use this AQA GCSE Religious Studies: Know your Exam Question Types Poster taken from the AQA GCSE Religious Studies Christianity Kerboodle: Exam Practice and Revision, which includes tips and advice on how to answer each exam question type

AQA B

  • To help your students improve understanding of key terms, use this glossary  from the AQA GCSE Religious Studies B (9-1): Catholic Christianity with Islam and Judaism Student Book 
  • To help improve exam technique and timing as well as how to approach different exam questions, use this extract from the AQA GCSE Religious Studies B (9-1): Catholic Christianity with Islam and Judaism Revision Guide

Edexcel A

  • To help your students improve understanding of key terms, use this glossary from GCSE Religious Studies for Edexcel A (9-1): Catholic Christianity with Islam and Judaism Student Book 
  • To help improve exam technique and timing as well as how to approach different exam questions, use this extract from the GCSE Religious Studies for Edexcel A (9-1): Catholic Christianity with Islam and Judaism Revision Guide

Edexcel B

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.