Pearson Edexcel GCSE History Medicine in Britain paper 1 update

6 June 2023

This is an update for teachers and students following the Edexcel GCSE History Medicine in Britain paper taken on 18 May 2023.

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Question 5 on this paper contained an incorrect date. One of the stimulus points for the question, ‘Sydenham’s Observationes Medicae’ was incorrectly stated as 1576 rather than 1676. This meant that in terms of turning points in the period c1500-c1700, the stimulus point placed Sydenham chronologically between Vesalius and Harvey, when the chronology should be Vesalius, Harvey, then Sydenham.

Following the examination, the senior examining team met to discuss any impact this has had on candidates and as part of this process they examined a number of students’ scripts. As a result of this review, it was decided that both the correct chronology and the given chronology would be treated as valid when rewarding responses. Many students were found to be simply copying out the date of Sydenham’s book as a point of fact and not ‘using’ it in their answer and it was decided that this should be treated as ‘correct’. This question is marked using a generic levels-based mark scheme which did not need to be amended, however the mark scheme indicative content was updated to include further significant turning points mentioned in the specification.

Medicine in Britain c1250-present is a very popular option in our GCSE History specification. Entries for GCSE History are made by topic, and this enables us to have specialist markers focusing on each topic. At the standardisation meeting we trained all examiners marking this paper and they were given clear instructions on how to mark the potential different approaches to this question, along with a range of exemplar scripts. Examiner marking is carefully monitored by team leaders who will check they are applying the mark scheme correctly and examiners can check with their team leaders or the senior examining team if they need help in marking a particular response. If examiners see responses that include messages from candidates to the examiner, alluding to the incorrect date, they have been instructed to escalate this to their team leader so that the response can be reviewed.

Marking of this paper is now well underway and once all marking is complete for this paper we will carry out detailed statistical analysis to assess the full impact (e.g. mean marks on questions and papers compared to other papers). This analysis will be used to inform the setting of grade boundaries, along with a careful review of scripts. We award grade boundaries for each topic individually so senior examiners can take this into account as part of the awarding process. We will be able to provide more information on this process before results are issued to centres.

Hayley White
Assessment Director

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