GCE Business: assessment support

12 December 2022

The purpose of this page is to help you understand our assessment of GCE Business.

Read more

There is a sister page to help you in the delivery of this qualification.

Past question papers, mark schemes and examiners' reports are available on the qualification page.

These are kept locked for the first 9 months after an examination series and you will require an Edexcel Online username and password to be able to gain access.

From 2023, the question papers will have a new 'look'.

The case studies will be provided in a separate source booklet to allow candidates to have each case study open in front of them while answering each question and to remove the need to keep flipping back and forth through the paper.

Examples of these reformatted question papers and source booklets have been provided so that they can be used for mocks.

There are a number of pre-reccorded training sessions available for you to listen to:

  • Writing your own case studies like an exam writer
  • How level descriptors actually work
  • Feedback on Summer 2019 Papers 1 and 2
  • Feedback on Summer 2019 Paper 3

There are two options:

1. You could use examWizard to build your own paper from a mix of past questions (please see below).

2. You could adapt IAL Business papers. The content of the IAL Businesss qualification is very close to the GCE specification so the questions are likely to be relevant. The assessment design is slightly different but you could adapt the questions to make them consistent with the command verbs used at GCE.

A third option might be to adapt a newspaper article and write your own.  This pre-recorded event explains how:

  • Writing your own case studies like an exam writer

{{ gatDoctitle }}


Our examWizard tool is an online resource containing a huge bank of past paper questions and support materials to help you create your own mock exams and assessments. It is available for a range of GCSE, International GCSE, A level subjects, BTEC and Functional Skills.


{{ gatDoctitle }}


ResultsPlus is an online results analysis tool that gives you a detailed breakdown of your students’ performance in Pearson Edexcel exams.

ResultsPlus provides detailed analysis of your learners' performance and will help you to identify potential topics, skills and types of questions where students may need to develop their learning further. Whilst there hasn’t been a typical examination series for a while, you may find it helpful to understand how your students’ performance compares with class and Pearson Edexcel national averages and to gather some insight data that may support effective teaching and learning approaches. Find out more about ResultsPlus.

Many centres will be focused on delivering mock exams this term and using those mock exam results to inform intervention and revision. The ResultsPlus Mock analysis service can help you get the most from that data.

Examiners' reports

Examiners' reports are a useful way of understanding the standard that has been applied. You can see exemplar student answers to each question with examiner comments and tips. Combining a reading of the examiners' reports with the mark schemes can provide useful insights.

There are extracts from the examiners' reports as they relate to the different command verbs below:

The examiners' reports emphasize the need to contextualize answers:

• 'Explain' questions require good use of the extract to provide examples.

• There are 2 AO2 marks available for application/contextualization. Thus, accurate generic answers will fail to score above 2 marks due to the lack of appropriate application. Therefore, the 'explain' questions must include two different distinct elements of application to allow 4 marks to be scored.

• 4 mark ‘explain’ questions contain 2 application marks which can be gained by using 2 relevant examples from the context.

• Use the context effectively to support your points, so make sure there is evidence from the extract, or your own understanding, that can support your answer and make it relevant to that business.

• If the question asks for one factor (e.g. a limitation), only spend time explaining one. While you will not lose marks for explaining more than one, you will not gain reward for the second factor, and this uses valuable time. Where there is reference to an extract in the question, make sure you support your answer with examples from this.

You will find examples of answers awarded full marks for 'Explain’ questions in the following examiners’ reports:
• 2017 Paper 2 question 1a
• 2018 Paper 2 Question 1a
• 2018 Paper 2 Question 2a
• 2019 Paper 1 Question 1b
• 2019 Paper 2 question 1a

The examiners' reports state:

  • ‘Calculate’ requires a calculation comprising four stages. For example, identifying the formula (for the one AO1 mark), locating the data, substituting the data in the formula and performing the calculation (for the three AO2 marks).
  • In quantitative questions examiners have been instructed to award 4 marks if the correct answer is seen. However, not providing any formulae or workings would result in 0 marks being awarded if the candidate made a small arithmetic 'slip'. So, show all working. There is an example in the 2019 Paper 1 Examiner's Report of a candidate who would have lost all marks on a question had they not done so.
  • Answers must be given to 2 decimal places.
  • For break-even, a firm cannot break-even at a fraction of a unit of output. Therefore if the break-even point is 5.55, it must be rounded up to a next whole number up i.e. 6. This issue was highlighted in the Sample Assessment Materials (SAMs).
  • As well as learning the main formula, make sure that you practise re-arranging these, so that you can calculate missing data. For example, you may be required to rearrange the PED formula having been given the answer.
  • Practise percentage change calculations. They are important in elasticity calculations, but also in the analysis of other data in the business course.

The 2019 Paper 1 Principal Examiner's Report is a reminder that these questions assess quantitative skills:

QS3 is 'construct and interpret a range of graphical forms'. In theme 1, demand and supply diagrams are an important example of these graphical forms. Candidates can increase their chances of gaining marks for this type of question by remembering and applying the acronym 'ACE', which stands for Axes, Curve, Equilibrium - the basics of drawing a demand and supply diagram. If you are not confident about the correct shift in the curves, make sure you accurately label these, along with the axes of your diagram. You will still achieve some marks for such a response.

The last point made by the Principal Examiner in the extract above can be illustrated by looking at the mark scheme which shows that to demonstrate knowledge and understanding (for the two AO1 marks) students are required to draw the supply and demand curves, label them correctly, and ensure that the axes are also labelled correctly.  For application (the AO2 mark) candidates must manipulate the diagram showing the shift in demand or supply and the analysis mark (AO3) is gained by identifying the consequences of the manipulation, the new equilibrium to indicate a new price and sales volume (consequence).

The examiners' reports state:

  • candidates should show accurate and thorough knowledge and understanding. Succinct appropriate definitions at the start of an answer can be useful but they are not always necessary.
  • candidates shoiuld support their answers throughout by relevant and effective use of the business behaviour/context to show application
  • candidates should provide logical chains of reasoning showing cause(s) and/or effect(s) to show analysis
  • candidates need to provide balance for both options. Both points should be balanced. Evaluation may be attempted by suggesting the opposite of a factor as this shows an awareness of competing arguments/factors including supported judgement.

The stumbling blocks tend to be lack of evaluation and lack of context which means many answers find themselves in Level 2.

Candidates do not need a final judgement. Since students are essentially evaluating TWO aspects of a business/concept, then it would be sufficient for students to provide chains of reasoning for and against each option.  The judgment is not a final decision, usually contained in a conclusion - as it is with 10, 12 and 20 mark tariff questions.

To gain a top Level 3 mark in the range 6-8 marks, students are required to:

  • (show) accurate and thorough knowledge and understanding
  •  (provide) logical chains of reasoning, showing cause(s) and/or effect(s)
  • (write answers where) assessment is balanced, well contextualised, using quantitative and/or qualitative information
  • (and is) supported throughout by relevant and effective use of the business behaviour/context, and shows an awareness of competing arguments/factors including supported judgement

Examples of high scoring answers in the following examiners’ reports
• 7/8 - Paper 3 2019; Paper 3 Oct 2020
• 8/8 - Paper 3 2018; Paper 3 Oct 2020; Paper 3 2022

The examiners' reports include the following advice:

  • The question's command word is "assess", which invites candidates to present a balanced argument. A simple judgement would be expected in order to secure the higher marks.
    Candidates are encouraged to use the relevant evidence from the Extracts to score beyond Level 2.
  • Use the evidence as much as possible. There is no expectation that you will know about the business beyond the information you are presented with, but you may find that you have your own background knowledge to bring and add to your answer. Remember that the higher mark questions demand balance and you need to be framing answers to provide this.
    When there is some attempt at analysis but incomplete chains of reasoning, candidates will score at best the lower end of level 3
  • If a question requires students to ‘assess the benefits’, the command word requires balance to achieve the top marks. In other words, are the benefits always benefits? Are there limitations? What does the benefits depend on?
  • When the command word is ‘Assess’ aim to include a fully balanced argument. If the question requires students to 'assess the benefits', assessing the benefits means to decide whether the benefits are outweighed by the costs or problems
  • Overall judgement is required to access Level 4, 9-10 marks.
  • Judgements are required for 10 mark and 12 mark assess questions. These judgements should not simply be a repeat summary of the preceding arguments for and against. They should bring in an overall decision which relates to the specific business situation, objectives, market or the nature of its products/service (MOPS)
    Avoid repeating arguments in an attempt to make a judgement.

Examples of high scoring answers in the following examiners’ reports:

• 8/10 - Paper 2 2017; Paper 3 2017; Paper 2 Oct 2020; Paper 3 Oct 2020
• 9/10 - Paper 2 2017; Paper 2 2018; Paper 3 2018; Paper 1 Oct 2020; Paper 3 Oct 2020; 2022 Paper 2
• 10/10 - Paper 1 2018; Paper 2 2018; Paper 3 2018; Paper 1 2019; Paper 2 2019; Paper 1 October 2020; Paper 3 Oct 2020; Paper 1 2022

The following advice is taken from examiners' reports:

  • With 12 marks available, we would expect analysis and evaluation to be slightly more wide-ranging than the 10 mark question.
  • Try to match the concept in the question to what is presented in the evidence. It is good practice to define the key term in the question as this shows you are confident in the subject material.
  • Candidates are advised to start their responses to assessment questions by identifying the issues/factors first, then assessing each one in turn before providing a judgement.
  • Pay careful attention to what you are being asked to assess. If it is 'importance' as is the case here, then your chains of reasoning need to support why this factor (place) is or is not important. This is most eff ectively achieved through comparison to another factor or feature
  • Check all extracts to ensure you are including as much relevant context as possible. When thinking about likely impacts, consider who these impacts might be on? Workers? Owners? Local community? This can help to provide a structure to your answer, and give you a framework for writing analytical and evaluative answers.
  • Look at the examples of judgement in the mark scheme. Something new rather than a summary repeat of previous arguments is what is required.
  • Candidates are advised to make their overall judgements clear (see published mark scheme examples) and in doing so do not simply summarise preceding arguments.
  • Chains of reasoning need to be fully developed, especially with 12 mark questions where more depth or breadth is expected than with 10 mark questions.
  • Make use of connectives to enhance your analytical writing. For example: 'one implication might be... this could mean that...however, it should also be considered...' However, make sure there is sufficient business content and application to fully show your analytical and evaluative skills.
  • Complete chains of reasoning for both sides of an argument, select relevant evidence from the extract and use appropriate business terminology.

Examples of high scoring answers in the following examiners’ reports:
• 9/12 - Paper 2 2017; Paper 3 Oct 2020
• 10/12 - Paper 3 2019; Paper 2 Oct 2020; Paper 3 Oct 2020; Paper 3 2022
• 11/12 - Paper 1 2018; Paper 2 2018; Paper 3 2018; Paper 2 2022
• 12/12 - Paper 1 2018; Paper 1 2019; Paper 1 Oct 2020; Paper 3 Oct 2020; Paper 1 2022

From 2023 onwards, the wording of the level-based descriptors for the 8, 10 and 12 mark questions will change to provide transparency in examiners’ marking approach and greater clarity for teachers and students.

These exemplars have been produced, following teacher feedback, to ensure the approach to marking is accessible to both teachers and students in preparation for final course assessment.

Contained in these booklets is a selection of student responses taken from the summer 2022 series, complete with the level and appropriate marks awarded. After each response is a commentary which should help to explain the level and raw mark awarded.

These selected responses aim to illustrate to teachers and learners the difference between Level 3 and level 4 responses, to clarify examiners’ approach to marking and to help students access the higher mark bands.

The examiners' reports suggest the following:

  • The top marks are achieved by those candidates able to make a full recommendation of what is most suitable based on the evidence and their own understanding of the context and specification area. There is not a prescribed expectation in terms of the numbers of points to be made in good answers. The emphasis is very much on applied, thorough and developed, chains of reasoning. The best answers take evidence from multiple extracts, link this to the specification content and the specifics of the question.
  • In preparing candidates for 20 mark questions, the key lessons centres need to learn are:

- Focus upon the exact wording of the question.

- Quality rather than quantity – selective arguments that are well developed will always be rewarded higher than identifying several arguments with limited explanation.

- Each argument must relate to the context of the business/industry featured, it is important to avoid generic responses.

- Write concisely and avoid extended answers which often contain too much waffle.

- Make a justified recommendation that is based upon prior arguments.

  • ensure all options are fully evaluated in the context of the business. Use these longer responses as an opportunity to bring in your knowledge and understanding from other specification areas that are relevant to the question.
  • Theory alone will rarely enable a candidate to access above the middle mark of Level 2.
  • Application is key to the best answers. Use of the extracts to support your argument shows a real understanding of the subject material, that has been adjusted and moulded to suit a particular line of argument.
  • Candidates are encouraged to develop chains of reasoning before starting a new point.
  • There are two aspects of these 20-mark questions – the evaluation of the options and the recommendation. Try to give time and effort to the recommendation in order to access the highest marks. Candidates should aim to provide developed recommendations, that use the evidence to support the overall decision. This should not simply be a repeat of the previous argument, but an explanation of the defining features of the business involved.
  • Clear judgements, possibly based on MOPS (Market, Objectives, Product and Situation).and recommendations are required to gain a good Level 4 mark, i.e. 17-20 marks. Judgements or recommendations that make reference to long-term versus short-term can also be an effective approach to achieving higher marks.
  • The best responses contain extended recommendations. These are more than short conclusions; they justify a course of action the business should take, supported by the context of the business.
  • Provided each option is discussed, a conclusion is offered and a candidate makes a recommendation, then candidates should expect to be awarded a Level 4 mark. The specific mark within that level can be determined by how well the candidate expresses their ideas and, in particular, how well they make use of the business context. The best responses for 20-mark questions, tend to make fewer arguments, but these are fully developed with consistent use of context. The conclusion/judgement is supported by the previous arguments and justified with the use of ‘MOPS’.
  • Be prepared to bring in relevant specification content, even if it is not mentioned in the question. Also, remember that these questions are encouraging you to make a judgement/recommendation. Think of this as being nearly 1/3 of your answer if you wish to gain the top Level 4 marks. When making this judgement, try to bring in a new reason or defining point for your judgement.
  • When constructing judgements for 20 mark questions, avoid repeating arguments used previously in your answer. Try to think about the key factors or reasons for your overall judgement, that are in the context of the business in question. The extracts will give you pointers, think about how this information can be used effectively. 5 minutes reading all extracts carefully and being aware of the main features of the business and its context, will be hugely valuable for adding specifics to your answers.
  • Make sure you leave time and space for a developed recommendation in these 20 mark questions. This should be more than a simple conclusion, but should explain how and why the option you have chosen is best in your view, and how the business might implement the changes you have suggested. Also, identify what your recommendation depends on.
  • Make sure your points are developed beyond assertions. Explanation is important: after a statement, explain how or why this is the case.
  • When asked to calculate data values in an 'assess' or 'evaluate' question it is vital that the results are included in the report. They should not stand alone.
  • Conclusions really ought to make a new point.
  • To achieve a level 4 mark in an evaluation question, candidates are advised that responses should include accurate and thorough knowledge and understanding. Any opportunity to introduce this in an assessment should be encouraged.
  • Candidates should be prepared to plan 20 mark answers and take time to read back through them to ensure that chains of reasoning are complete.
  • It is not necessary to write lengthy answers to 20 mark questions. The space provided in the answer booklet should be sufficient.

Examples of high scoring answers in the following examiners’ reports:

• 17/20 - Paper 2 2017; Paper 3 2019; Paper 2 2022
• 18/20 - Paper 2 2017; Paper 1 2018; Paper 2 2018; Paper 2 2019; Paper 1 Oct 2020; Paper 1 Oct 2020
• 19/20 - Paper 1 2019
• 20/20 - Paper 1 2018; Paper 3 2018; Paper 3 Oct 2020

Grade boundaries and statistics

Grade boundaries

The A level maximum mark is 335 as this reflects the different weightings of the three A level papers. All three papers are out of 100 but Papers 1 and 2 have a 35% weighting whereas Paper 3 has a 30% weighting. This means that the marks you see are adjusted marks and not raw marks.

The conversion works by multiplying Paper 1 and 2 marks by 1.1725 and the Paper 3 mark by 1.005.

Notional grade boundaries

Notional grade performance at component level plays no part in the determination of a qualification grade.

For teachers, the notional component grade boundaries can be useful as an indicator of grade performance when, for example, an examination paper is used as a future mock examination.

Grade statistics

The grade statistics in the table below show:
• The total number of candidates
• The cumulative percentage of candidates at each grade boundary as a percentage of the total cohort

  Maximum mark A* A B C D E U
2017 335 243 222 193 165 137 109 0
2018 335 242 222 194 167 140 113 0
2019 335 247 225 197 169 142 115 0
Oct 2020 335 238 215 181 147 113 79 0
Oct 2021 335 232 210 178 147 116 85 0
2022 335 239 218 184 151 118 85 0
  Paper 1 A* A B C D E U
2017 100 73
67 58 50 42 34 0
2018 100
74 68 59 51 43 35 0
2019 100
Oct 2020 100 73 66 55 44 34 24 0
Oct 2021 100 70 63 53 44 35 26 0
2022 100 72 66 56 46 36 27 0
  Paper 2 A* A B C D E U
2017 100 75 68 59 50 42 34 0
2018 100
71 65 56 48 40 32 0
2019 100
Oct 2020 100 70 63 53 43 33 23 0
Oct 2021 100 68 62 52 42 33 24 0
2022 100 71 65 55 45 35 25 0
  Paper 3 A* A B C D E U
2017 100 69 63 54 45 37 29 0
2018 100
72 66 58 50 42 34 0
2019 100
Oct 2020 100 70 63 53 43 33 24 0
Oct 2021 100 70 63 53 44 35 26 0
2022 100 70 64 54 44 34 24 0
  Number of candidates A* A B C D E U
2017 9111 3.6% 15.3% 46.8% 77.1% 92.8% 98% 100%
2018 10801 3.5% 15.3% 47% 77.2% 92.5% 97.9% 100%
2019 11950
June 2020 (CAGs) 13850 6.7% 25.6% 57.6% 85.9% 96.6% 99.7% 100%
Oct 2020 184 8.2% 24.5% 54.3% 79.9% 92.4% 95.1% 100%
June 2021 (TAGs) 15715 10.2% 31.3% 61.8% 86% 95.8% 99.5% 100%
Oct 2021 64 6.3% 15.6% 40.6% 67.2% 82.8% 92.2% 100%
2022 17965 7.8% 25% 62.3% 85% 95.1% 98.6% 100%

Are you sure you want to exit this session?