International GCSE Business assessment support page

8 January 2020

International GCSE Business: support for assessment

This page is intended to help you understand the assessment of the qualification.

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You may also be interested in a sister page which tries to support your delivery of the qualification.

Exam materials

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.

Feedback on the summer 2019 exam series is available as a pre-recorded training session.

Exemplar answers

These booklets of exemplar answers from the May 2019 papers show how examiners have applied the mark scheme to candidate responses:

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Examiners' reports

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

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

State questions assess AO2.

Centres must remind candidates that ‘State’ questions need to be in the context of the given business, the majority of candidates are currently being disadvantaged by not being taught this skill.

For example, ‘State' in question 1 (d) of the 2019  Paper 1 required learners to ‘State one method Backyard Shoez could use for on-the-job training’. To achieve the mark the answer had to be in the context of the given scenario but a lot of learners provided a method of on-the-job training with no context to Backyard Shoez.

On this type of question candidates should be encouraged to ensure that it is related to the scenario of the paper, to enable them to gain the mark available.

Centres should encourage candidates to include their working out as often candidates gained a mark for their calculation despite their final answer being incorrect. Candidates should also be encouraged to double check their working out.

Centres must remind candidates that if the question states ‘to 2 decimal places’ then this is the expectation to gain full marks for the question. It would also be helpful for centres to remind candidates that some formulas are provided at the front of the paper, whilst most candidates did use these there are still some that are not.

'Outline' questions require a point to score 1 mark. To score two marks, there has to be development of the method and the existence of application 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.

An ‘explain’ question does not need to be in context as there are no AO2 marks available.

Many candidates gained a mark for identifying one factor but then did not develop their answers. Only a minority of candidates were able to add some development to their answer to gain two or three marks. Candidates who list more than one factor can only gain one mark.

Candidates must be reminded that there are AO2 marks for this level-based question as often candidates would provide an extended answer but not apply this answer to the context

Candidates were disadvantaged when they did not apply their answer to the case study as they cannot access the top of level 2 without any application.

A large number of candidates gave very detailed descriptions of the two options which was knowledge and therefore they did not gain any marks.

Some learners showed clear knowledge of the two options but often were unaware there are no AO1 marks available for these questions. They are being tested on application (AO2), analysis (AO3) and evaluation (AO4) skills and to be able to answer successfully must recommend one of the options to the business in the case study.

Those candidates who gained no marks on this response simply showed knowledge of one or both options with no application, analysis or evaluation.

Candidates working at level 1 showed good knowledge of both options, making statements on one or both options with some relation to the context but this was not always expanded upon in their answer.

More able candidates accessed level 3 by considering their chosen option in context and how this would impact on the business in the case study, linking their points together and concluding their answer with balance and justification.

Candidates at level 1 made some attempt at the question and made basic statements without any reference to the case study or any development of their answer.

Those candidates who accessed level 3 considered the question in context. Candidates successfully linked their points together in a logical order and were able to conclude their answer with a well balance and justified argument.

Those who performed less well than expected on this question did so for one of two reasons.

Firstly, candidates provided a generic answer with no application to the case study.

Secondly, candidates did not provide a thorough judgment relating back to any issues that may occur for the business in the case study or they did not balance their conclusion therefore limiting their evaluation.

Some candidates are using bullet points or numbered format, this will not allow them to gain the higher-level marks because they may not have analysed or evaluated the points made.

Grade boundaries

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

International 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

Paper 1 and Paper 2 each have a raw mark out of 80. 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.

    Max Mark 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 U
May 2019 4BS1 160 113 101 90 76 62 48 40 32 24 0
May 2019 4BS1R 160 111 101 91 77 63 49 40 32 24 0
    Max Mark 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 U
May 2019  Paper 1 80 57
Paper 2
80 54
Paper 1R 80 57 51 46 39 32 26 21 16 12 0
Paper 2R
80 56 50 45 37 30 23 19 15 12 0

Grade statistics

Grade statistics are reported separately for UK and overseas centres. The statistics below are for overseas centres only.  They show:

  • The total number of candidates
  • The cumulative percentage of candidates at each grade boundary as a percentage of the total cohort
4BS1 Number of candidates 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 U
May 2019 5164
3.8% 8.0%
May 2020 4801 14.8% 29.3% 47.3% 65.7% 80.9% 91.5% 96.4% 98.9% 99.6% 100%


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

You can see the actual scores for each exam question for a student, class or group and understand how your students’ performance compares with class and Edexcel national averages.

ResultsPlus can also help you to identify potential topics, skills and types of question where students may need to develop their learning further.

You will need your Edexcel Online username and password to log into ResultsPlus.

Subject advisor

Colin Leith

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Colin Leith, Business and Economics subject advisor
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