Preparing for the exam: Unit 7 Recording for Creative Intentions
Here's some guidance you may find useful when preparing your BTEC First learners for the Externally Set Task.
The theme for the Externally Set Task has been released on the website, as stated in Section 9 of the specification: External Assessment. You will be able to download it from the course materials for the NQF BTEC Firsts in Art and Design. There are also examples of the previous question papers to show you the types of briefs that students might expect to see on the paper.
All the information you need for the administration of the externally set examinations can be found in the Administrative Support Guide (look under 'teaching and learning materials' in the course materials).
As you're probably aware, only 5 hours of Unit 7 are assessed, and this is through the Externally Set Task. The remaining 25 hours take the form of 'practice' in responding to source materials and producing development work and outcomes. That is to say, you can use these hours within any of your other units, and other themes, to ensure that your students are fully prepared to take an exam where they respond to an examination brief. For further exemplification, please see the specification for the Certificate/Extended Certificate and go to the section on Unit 7.
The theme for Unit 7 is released to teachers in March so that you can consider what sort of resources to collect in anticipation of the types of brief that might appear in the exam. For example, a previous theme was Fresh Food. This means that teachers should be looking at what sort of resources evoke 'freshness' when combined with food - such as baskets, wooden boxes, gingham tablecloths, apples or other fruit with their foliage - and ensure that this can be organised to be in place for learners to photograph or draw near to the exam time, when they can be given 'adequate' time to consider the theme.
Then, in the test itself, the briefs will be pathway-specific; learners may be asked to produce a magazine photograph for an article on eating outdoors, or a menu card, for example.
The 5-hour timed-test window is in the first two weeks of May. When published, you'll find this on the exams timetables page. This test cannot be carried out before or after this time as it is a closed-paper test and this is an Ofqual rule. When the students get the paper you will find that the questions are generic; so, for example, they will not specify any particular fresh food such as 'fruit'.
You should explain to your learners that the assignment brief for this unit will be externally set:
- They will be given a broad-based thematic starting point with adequate time to consider and explore the theme before the 5-hour assessment takes place.
- At the start of the 5-hour assessment they will be given an externally set assignment brief to which they must respond.
- During the 5-hour assessment they are expected to work in controlled conditions.
The Delivery Guide (also in the course materials under 'teaching and learning materials') goes on to suggest ways in which the learners can be prepared for responding to source materials:
"The examples below indicate some of the ways you could prepare learners in the 25 hours of delivery leading up to the assessment. This preparatory work may be integrated with assignments for other units."
It goes on to describe what strategies you can use to deliver learning Aim A.
As you can see from all of this, you should give your students an understanding of how all this works by integrating these skills into their projects (using other themes). The Delivery Guide states that learners may be given 'adequate' time, so perhaps you could give them the theme in previous lessons to give them time to mull over the meaning of the theme and gather some initial thoughts on the subject matter. There is very little else that they can do even if they have the theme earlier, as they will not know what kind of responses are expected until the actual exam paper is opened, but you can ensure that they are able to respond with confidence.