Grading for new linear AS History

Thu Jul 28 23:30:00 UTC 2016

This update explains how the new linear AS History specification will be graded.

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Linear grade boundaries

The new AS and A level History specification are linear – this means that, after years of modular exams with UMS marks, you will now need to get used to a new (or old) 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 sat the new AS examinations this summer will simply receive an overall grade for the AS qualification.

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

We will also publish notional component boundaries at paper level for AS Papers 1 and 2. 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.
  • The new AS History Paper 2 has a total raw mark of 40.
  • The total AS subject 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.

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 are as follows:

  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

Why is this?

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.

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