GCSE Business: assessment support

7 March 2022

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

The Support section includes a link to past papers and mark schemes, a link to recorded training, examWizard which allows you to create papers, and Results Plus which helps you to analyse results.

The section headed Examiners' Reports includes examiner feedback on how best to respond to each of the command verbs.

At the end you can find the grade boundaries and statistics  from all past exam series.

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There is also a sister page to support 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 nine months after an examination series and you will require an Edexcel Online username and password to gain access.

This pre-recorded training is designed for teachers wishing to receive feedback on GCSE Business Papers 1 and 2 from the summer 2019 examination series.


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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.

We are always looking to recruit examiners across our qualifications. This is an excellent opportunity to gain invaluable insight into assessment and to work with other examiners to get some fresh teaching and learning ideas and approaches for your subject. More information about our vacancies, the application criteria and which subjects are currently recruiting can be found on our Assessment Associates web page.


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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:

This question is the only question in Sections B and C that does not require evidence of the skill of 'Application' or 'AO2'. The question appears due to the fact there are an odd number of 'Knowledge' or 'AO1a' marks to be spread across the two examination papers. Therefore, we have an extra question that tests 'AO1a' in Paper 2.

Note, how a generic approach is fine for ‘Give...’ questions since no ‘AO2’ or ‘Application’ is involved. Hence, there is no specific name of an italicised business contained within the question root.

There is no need to frame the response in the form of a sentence.

'State' questions assess Application (AO2).  If the question refers to a specific business, context must be included in the answer - even for a one-mark question.

Centres need to focus on the fact that any question that includes the italicised name of the business from the case-study in the question requires an applied response. ‘State…’ questions test ‘Application’ or ‘AO2’. Therefore, a generic response will always score 0 marks.

'Identify' questions require candidates to read off a graph or interpret a table. They test the skill of 'Application' or 'AO2' and, as a result, allow each examination paper to make up the 10% (9 marks) requirement for quantitative skills (8 marks from 4 x 2 mark 'Calculate' and 1 x 1 mark 'Identify).

There will always be four 'Calculate' questions on the paper, so it is worth practising quantitative questions. A total of 16 marks on Papers 1 and 2 can have a significant effect on the final grade.

All 'Calculate' questions test application, so there are no marks awarded for stating the formula in any of these questions. The marks are awarded for generating the correct answer. This automatically generates two marks - even if no workings are included.  It is not advised to omit workings, however, as, when the candidate provides an incorrect answer, examiners are instructed to look at workings to see if there has been a mathematical slip. If there has then one mark can be awarded.

Candidates will not be given one mark for stating the formula or getting a part of the answer right.

'Calculate' questions will only ever be two marks in length, so any question on ARR is going to be simple in nature.

All questions in GCSE Business that use real-world figures will require you to give your answer to two decimal places. Just write down the first two numbers after the decimal point. All of the questions will be chosen to ensure that no rounding will be required.

Always place your answer on the answer line. If you give two answers, the examiner can then decide which one is your final answer.

Centres are advised to ensure that their students learn the formulae in Appendix 3 of the specification. 10% of the available marks are awarded for quantitative skills.

For a 2 mark ‘Outline…’ question the candidate should give an impact/drawback/advantage etc, a strand of development and evidence of ‘Application’ or ‘AO2’ somewhere within the response. Many candidates fail to do all three things which restricts their mark to one. The most common issue is not using any context in an answer and therefore failing to gain the ‘AO2’ mark.

So, a valid reason needs to be given with a linked point of development and the answer also needs to be applied to the business.

'Outline' questions require a point to score one mark. To score both marks there must be an impact/drawback/advantage etc, a strand of development and evidence of ‘Application’ or ‘AO2’ somewhere within the response.

To provide application, think about the market the business operates in, or the products that it sells, or simply just use a word or phrase from the case study.

'Explain' questions only appear in Section A of the paper, which is not based on any case-study material. Therefore, answers to 'Explain' questions do not require any application or contextualisation.

Three lines of space per mark have now been included in the paper. This is to avoid the need for candidates to use additional paper when giving answers. It must be stressed that this extra space should not tempt candidates into writing longer answers when they are not needed.

In a three-mark 'explain' question, all you need to do is state a drawback/advantage/benefit etc and provide two logical linked strands. However, make sure your answer is not vague and answers the set question.

It is often useful to write three separate sentences when doing this, rather than condensing an answer into two sentences.

Candidates sometimes provide answers that appear to be rehearsed around a generic rather than a specific benefit to a business relating to the question. Examiners are instructed to award such answers 1 mark. Centres need to be wary of advising candidates to adopt this approach. E.g., ‘Sales increase, therefore revenue increases. Therefore, profit increases’, irrespective of what the question is actually asking.

Words such as 'thus', 'therefore', 'this leads to' and 'as a result' all help in structuring a good answer. The use of linking words like 'therefore' and 'consequently' allows examiners to easily count the linked strands that follow on from a stated advantage/drawback. Try and avoid the use of the words 'also' and 'or' on these type of questions. It suggests you are drifting away from focusing on one advantage/benefit/drawback etc.

'Explain one way...' or 'Explain one method...' questions ask candidates to explain a method or way and need a different technique than those that ask candidates to explain an advantage or disadvantage. The word 'way' is different to a 'benefit' or 'drawback' as candidates are being asked to explain a 'process'. When practising these questions, please steer candidates away from explaining the advantages and disadvantages to the business. Many candidates start to include terms such as 'this will increase revenue/profit/sales' as a default response. Such statements will not be awarded marks in this type of question.

Make sure that you count your strands of development on your fingers to ensure you have two strands following the statement of a benefit/drawback etc.

Avoid repeating the question in your first sentence. By doing this on every question you are writing another two A4 sides of work which scores you zero marks - this is the main reason why candidates do not finish the paper.

This question tests 'AO1b' or 'Understanding' and 'AO3a' or 'Analysis'. Examiners are instructed to make a level judgement separately on each 'AO' or 'Assessment Objective' and then take a 'best-fit' approach to arrive at the final level and mark.

If a candidate shows a very limited understanding they will be awarded Level 1 for AO1b. If there is some clearer, implied understanding they will be awarded Level 2. If there is a robust and clear understanding they will be awarded Level 3 for this 'AO'. When examiners are unsure as to whether a candidate fully understands a concept, the question is rooted in, the result will be a lower level judgement for ‘AO1b’ or ‘Understanding’.

A separate judgement is then made regarding 'AO3a' or 'Analysis'. To reach Level 2 the candidate has to make one or two points with two linked strands of development. To reach Level 3, there must be one or two points with at least five linked strands of development.

Once the examiner has made their decision regarding the level for AO1b and AO3a, a best-fit approach will be taken to arrive at the final judgement of level and mark.

By points e.g. impacts can either be 'positive' or 'negative'. The linked strands do not start until a point has been stated. Examiners are then instructed to count the valid linked strands that emanate from this point/impact in order to make their judgement on 'AO3a' or 'Analysis'.

It is advisable to make two separate points as it prevents deviation from the question. If a third or fourth point is mentioned and developed, examiners will only mark the best two and it is these that will count toward the final judgement of levels.

The word 'Discuss' does not require any evaluation at all, as it does not test the 'AO3b' assessment objective of 'Evaluation'.

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'Analyse' questions test two Assessment Objectives or 'AOs', namely 'AO2' or 'Application' and 'AO3a' or 'Analysis'. Thus, to be successful, candidates need to demonstrate both of these skills within their answer.

Examiners will make a separate judgement on AO2 and if there is application throughout the answer, that is associated with valid analysis, then a candidate would score Level 3 for this Assessment Objective. If application is not present throughout the answer then Level 3 cannot be awarded. Lack of ‘Application’ or ‘AO2’ in ‘Analyse…’ questions will result in a Level 0 for ‘AO2’ which limits a candidate’s response to 3/6. Centres should highlight to candidates the importance of using the extracts to ensure that their answers are contextualised.

Equally, examiners are also looking for five linked, accurate, strands of development emanating from the one or two points. If they see this, a Level 3 judgement will also be made for this Assessment Objective.

To reach their final mark, examiners will take a 'best-fit' approach across the two 'AO' levels.

Please note: a generic answer that has no context/application, whatsoever, cannot score above three marks.

Full marks can be achieved by analysing just one point (impact), however candidates may find it easier to analyse two points (impacts) in order to make five developments. If a candidate decides to do this, they should make use of a paragraph structure to make the answer more readable. Any more than two points (impacts) will not be taken into consideration. Please note that the term ‘impact’ in the question allows both positive and negative factors to be included in the answer.

In the 2019 examiners' reports there are examples of candidate answers scoring six marks in questions 4b and 5c of both Papers 1 and 2.

The 'Justify' question is marked in the same way as the 'Analyse' question but an additional judgement is now also made for 'Evaluation' or 'AO3b'. Thus, the final mark is derived from a best-fit approach to each of the three levels awarded for each of the three 'Assessment Objectives' the question is designed to test.

There is no requirement for candidates to consider both options in their answer. Nine marks are achievable from the consideration of ONE option only.

Conclusions are very important in answering 'Justify' questions as they can consolidate analysis and make justifications that allow evaluation to be demonstrated. Learning how to write effective conclusions is a strong skill to develop when answering 'Justify' questions. It allows evidence to be included linked to AO3b - Evaluation.

To generate some evidence of 'Evaluation' or 'AO3b' - the candidate could contrast the benefits and state which benefit is more important. An easier route to 'Evaluation' or 'AO3b' could be achieved by considering the drawbacks of one of the two options.

Candidates who consider the benefits of one option and then the benefits of the other, discarded, option will not generate any ‘AO3b’ or ‘Evaluation’ marks unless they consider the relative importance of the two benefits.

Candidates who consider the benefits of one option and then the drawbacks of the other, discarded, option are not demonstrating any ‘Evaluation’ or ‘AO3b’. The drawbacks of the discarded option simply provide further support for the chosen option.  

Candidates who consider the drawbacks of one option and the drawbacks of the other, discarded, option are also deemed to only generate a one-sided response and will score Level 0 for ‘Evaluation’ or ‘AO3b’. This is unless the candidate starts to make some form of comparison as to the relative significance or magnitude of the two drawbacks. This is tricky for most candidates to do at GCSE level.

There are much easier approaches to generate ‘Evaluation’ or ‘AO3b’ in answering this style of question. For instance, candidates could choose one option and then develop the benefits and drawbacks to this chosen option before coming to an overall conclusion.

To reach Level 3 for ‘AO3b’ or ‘Evaluation’, the conclusion should endeavour to bring new evaluative content to the answer through e.g., the consideration of how the impacts may differ between time-periods or through the use of the ‘…it depends rule’.

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This question is marked in exactly the same way as the 'Justify' question. The only difference is that a fourth 'Assessment Objective' is now also considered, namely 'AO1b' or 'Understanding'. Thus, examiners have to make four separate judgements regarding each response and then take a best-fit approach to arrive at the final level and mark.

The 'Understanding' judgement is based upon how well the candidate understands the business demands of the question.

Ensure that the conclusion does something more than just repeat what has already been mentioned elsewhere in the answer. This is what examiners are looking for in order to award Level 3 for 'Evaluation' or 'AO3b'.

The best candidates brought new evaluation into their conclusion and made use of the ‘…it depends rule’.

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Grade boundaries and statistics

Grade boundaries

A grade boundary is the minimum mark at which a numbered grade (between 9 and 1) can be achieved.

GCSE (9-1) qualifications are linear and only the maximum mark and grade boundaries for the overall qualification are available in this table. These are given in raw marks.

Notional grade boundaries

GCSE Business is a linear, rather than a modular, qualification, which means that there is no longer a need for the UMS marks you will have been familiar with in the past.

Paper 1 and Paper 2 each have a raw mark out of 90. Grade boundaries are set at qualification level (adding together the raw marks for Papers 1 and 2) and not for each paper. However, for teachers, the notional component grade boundaries can be a useful indicator of performance when papers are used in the future for mocks.

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 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 U
2019 180 135 125 115 102 89 77 57 37 17 0
Oct 2020 180 130 118 107 92 77 63 45 27 9 0
Oct 2021 180 126 114 103 89 75 62 44 26 9 0
  Paper 1 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 U
2019 90 68 63 58
Oct 2020 90 66 60 54 46 39 32 23 14 5 0
Oct 2021 90 64 58 52 45 38 31 22 13 5 0
  Paper 2 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 U
2019 90 67 62 57
Oct 2020 90 64 58 53 45 38 31 22 13 4 0
Oct 2021 90 62 56 51 44 37 31 22 13 4 0
  Number of candidates 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 U
2019 48,343 3.2% 8.6% 17.4% 33.3% 50.3% 64.9% 83.0%
93.5% 98.7% 100%



48,825 6.1% 14.7% 27.1% 44.8% 62.5% 79.4% 91.7% 97.4% 99.7% 100%
Oct 2020 241 11.2% 22.4% 33.6% 51.9% 66.8% 82.6% 94.6% 99.6% 100% 100%



50,667 8.6% 19.2% 32.6% 49.5% 65.8% 80.1% 90.9% 96.7% 99.3% 100%
Oct 2021 73 13.7% 26% 31.5% 52.1% 61.6% 71.2% 90.4% 98.6% 100% 100%

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