History

Subject update | Fri Jul 07 00:30:00 BST 2017

Grading for new linear AS and A level History

This update explains how the new linear AS and A level History specifications will be graded.

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Linear grade boundaries

The new AS and A level History specifications are linear – this means that, after years of modular exams with UMS marks, you now need to get used to a new way of reporting grade boundaries.

With linear qualifications, students will not be given grades for each paper they sit. The grades only officially exist at subject level, so students that sit the new AS and A level examinations this summer will simply receive an overall grade for the qualification.

On results day, we will publish the official grade boundaries at subject level. The Grade Boundaries documents are available on the grade boundaries page.

We will also publish notional component boundaries at paper level for all AS and A level papers. We are doing this to help you to mark and grade mocks in future series. These will be displayed in the Grade Boundaries document, published on the grade boundaries page. They will not be displayed on official/formal results documentation.

How do the new AS papers add up to make a total subject mark?

  • The new AS History Paper 1 has a total raw mark of 60 and is weighted at 60% of the qualification.
  • The new AS History Paper 2 has a total raw mark of 40 and is weighted at 40% of the qualification.
  • The total AS raw mark is therefore a mark of 100.

Your students’ marks on new AS Paper 1 and 2 will simply be added together to give the total subject mark out of 100.

How do the new A level papers add up to make a total subject mark?

  • The new A level History Paper 1 has a total raw mark of 60 and is weighted at 30% of the qualification.
  • The new A level History Paper 2 has a total raw mark of 40 and is weighted at 20% of the qualification.
  • The new A level History Paper 3 has a total raw mark of 60 and is weighted at 30% of the qualification.
  • The new A level History Paper 4 has a total raw mark of 40 and is weighted at 20% of the qualification.
  • The total A level raw mark is therefore a mark out of 200.

Your students' raw marks on new A level Papers 1, 2, 3 and 4 will simply be added together to give the total subject mark out of 200. This mark will not be scaled so the overall grade boundaries will be out of 200.

Notional component grade boundaries

Notional component grade boundaries do not always add up to the subject grade boundaries. For example, the new AS History option A grade boundaries for June 2016 are as follows:

Boundaries A B C D E
Option A overall subject grade boundaries 78 68 58 48 38
Paper 1A notional component boundaries 45  39  33  28  23 
Paper 2A notional component boundaries 33  28  23  19  15 

The notional component grade boundaries for A and E do add up eg 45 + 33 = 78

However the notional component grade boundaries for grade C do not add up eg 33 + 23 = 56

Explanation for difference between grade boundaries

At paper level judgemental boundaries are set at grades A and E for A level qualifications. When setting these boundaries the senior examiners look at students’ work. The remaining B, C and D boundaries are then set arithmetically so they are evenly spaced between A and E.

In the example above for Paper 1 there are 22 marks between A and E. This must be divided by 4 which leaves mark intervals of 5.5. However, grade boundaries with half marks can’t be set so the difference between each boundary will not be the same. If, as in this case, the difference between the A and E boundaries is not exactly divisible by 4, the remainder of the marks are allocated to each of the intervals at the higher grades in order of A-B, B-C, C-D.

So in Paper 1 above, the difference between A-B and B-C boundaries is 6 marks, and the difference between C-D and D-E is 5 marks (6 + 6 + 5 + 5 = 22 marks).

So it is important not to put too much emphasis on the notional component grades. The sole determinant of a student’s grade in a linear exam is their total subject mark.

I hope you found this update useful.

Subject advisor
Mark Battye, History subject advisor
Mark BattyeHistory
UK: 020 7010 2186
Intl: +44 (0)20 7010 2186
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