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Looking at Exam Papers GCSE in Business Studies (5308) (Double Award)
Development of the exam: background • The Government’s agenda for vocational learning: • ‘we should be offering young people a wide range of options’ • ‘we need to better prepare young people for the world of work’ • ‘we expect all schools to offer work-related opportunities to their pupils, often in partnership with local colleges’
The exam • The exam is untiered and is targeted at students across the full ability range A* - G. • It contains both short and extended answer compulsory questions totalling 90 marks, answered in 1½ hours. • All topics of the Unit are tested in each Series.
The exam: nature of the questions (1) • Theme: a ‘single business’ for the first three papers: • Rainfree and Fighting Fit - both are partnerships • MM Sounds - a sole trader • product (umbrella) or service (gym and ‘Gift Rap’) • New approach in June 2005: a ‘single location’ theme • an airport – the airport owners plus 3 shops providing goods (stationery etc) and services (food, car hire) • Applied: a Scenario with information introduced Q by Q • Trend towards the scenario being a ‘story’ only with the Q stems introducing key information
The exam: nature of the questions (2) • Templates are used: eg Profit & Loss + Cash Flow • note adaptation January 2005 (cash flow) • this approach will continue to discourage ‘rote’/give greater Q flexibility • Select from alternatives: eg documents, payment methods • Will continue to avoid ‘write all you know about’ Qs • Simple to complex: eg ‘Incline of difficulty’ + developed answers at end, targeted at A* • This is adapted in practice to ensure a ‘realistic’ approach (eg influence of chronology)
Grading questions and awarding marks • Assessment objectives: • AO1: Demonstrate and apply knowledge • 60 – 75% (54 – 67 marks) - name, state, explain, describe • AO2: Gather, select, record and analyse evidence • 10 – 15% (9 – 13 marks) - explain, select, analyse • AO3: Evaluate evidence and present conclusions • 15 – 20% (14 – 18 marks) - explain, evaluate, give reasons why • Papers are now marked ‘on-line’ with EPEN
Question 1 • Similar style to all past papers: alternatives based on scenario business, from which candidates select one • Improving performance? • (well answered/easy [only three alternatives] ) • use past papers for practice • ensure candidates give only 1 answer to a part (NB past questions, there may be two right answers) • (General) rehearse selecting and classifying costs for a wide range of businesses – • Public and private; primary, secondary, tertiary
Improving performance Use past papers for practice • Ensure candidates give only 1 answer to a part (when using past questions, recognise that there may be two correct alternatives but only one should be chosen) • Rehearse selecting and classifying costs for a wide range of businesses – • Public and private; • primary, secondary, tertiary
Improving performance Methods of payment • Usually required to explain advantage/disadvantage from the seller’s or the buyer’s viewpoint – this is often overlooked • Some candidates are content to state and not explain/ develop their answer
Improving performance Methods of payment • ‘State and explain’ – so some expansion of a ‘basic’ point is expected • Where ‘one’ is in bold candidates must not state two advantages/disadvantages – only one will be marked • Provide practical experience – e.g. of credit/debit cards • Candidates must be able to distinguish between questions/situations that focus on the seller, and those that focus on the buyer: an understanding of the buyer-seller relationship is crucial to success
Improving performance Budgeting • Topic of Budgeting – not well understood • Better answers would be based on explanations such as • ‘budget = plan; • actual occurs, compare against plan; • take corrective action’
Improving performance Budgeting • Concentrate on the planning and control aspects of budgeting • ‘Variance’ is not stated in Specification but understanding the ‘concept’ of variance is valuable • Practise both written and calculation answers Past paper questions on budgeting should be used • Candidates should know main types – eg sales, production, cash, capital expenditure
Improving performance Balance Sheets and Costs • Review structure, use real examples from public/private sector, from primary/secondary/tertiary industry, practise selecting and classifying from a list • Candidates must follow instructions –may be asked to use a given letter or number coding or name the cost • Continue practising the identification and selection of (eg) fixed and variable costs in specific contexts
Improving performance Break-even: • Table completion (costs and revenues) and • Chart to be constructed • Explain changes to breakeven – formula given to help
Improving performance Breakeven • Full labelling needed on diagram • Candidates must be familiar with a variety of approaches .They must also understand how a change in one item will affect both the lines on the chart and break-even position • This topic may test candidates’ understanding of how ICT helps efficiency, so they may benefit from using a spreadsheet to calculate break-even • Although candidates need not memorise the formula they may benefit from discussing the concept of ‘contribution’
Improving performance Business documents • Main difficulty arises in differentiating between Invoice and Statement of Account • Continuing use of ‘real’ documents will help • Use past papers to meet variety of questions formats
Improving Performance Business documents • Study documents or complete Marks are lost because of: • Poor knowledge of what happens to documents, or answers too brief for both marks (eg ‘File it’) • Lack of precise statements eg ‘wrong quantity’ mean many lost one or both marks • Good knowledge of VAT is essential
Improving performance Business documents • Candidates must use - complete, calculate, store – the full range • Clear understanding of the different positions and roles of buyer and seller regarding documents is needed • VAT calculations are needed • Correction of errors and effect of errors on both buyer and seller: • a question may involve finding the error, correcting it, explaining itseffect
Improving performance Cash Flow Forecast • Similar situation/template to most CFF questions: • single inflow; specific outflows; total and balance (b) Applied focus – ‘information in the CFF’ • Not well answered if not well applied • NB: the mark structure will ensure candidates still achieve marks if some answers to are incorrect, through application of OFR (‘own figure rule’)
Improving performanceCash Flow Forecast • Labelling of rows (usually 1 mark) • Practise ‘netting’ balances in CFFs • Candidates must be aware of effects on businesses that have negative cash flows • Candidates must be able to apply their answers, interpreting the results of their CFF or interpreting CFF balance figures that will be given to them: • E.g. what is the likely meaning of the high or negative/low balance to the business?
Improving performanceCash Flow Forecast • Practise on Excel – not just Cash Flow Forecast but also budget, P&L, break-even • Anticipate specific ICT questions based on specification topics such as these • Candidates should meet a range of ICT-based and ‘traditional’ situations that allow them to explore how different errors affect sales, profits, cash, balances, willingness to trade . . .
Improving performanceProfit and Loss • Similar templates • P&L date required (full date expected) • Templates and related information can vary on occasion – eg • Use of ‘cost’ and ‘revenue’ columns • Information in a form other than a bulleted list • ‘Difficult’ expense (depreciation) is pre-entered to assist • ‘Net profit’ or ‘Net loss’ expected as descriptor (‘Net profit’ needing to be shown as negative)
Improving performanceProfit and Loss • Understanding needed of stakeholders • Basic knowledge is often shown but not applied –– few score full marks • ‘Using the information above . . .’ • Expect similar questions that require candidates to apply given situations/figures
Improving performanceProfit and Loss • Candidates should practice profit/loss calculations using given templates and in other (e.g. list) formats • Revenues and expenses from a wide variety of businesses should be covered: • Public/private; primary/secondary/tertiary • Stress the importance of the date of financial statements • Practise relating answers to specific situations: limited value in giving ‘textbook’ answers about interests of different stakeholder groups
Improving performanceExtended last question • Always an extended answer at AO2/AO3. • Likely to test key financial concepts (see past papers) • Decisions will be involved: ‘Explain why’ ‘Select’ ‘Recommend’ ‘Justify’ ‘Evaluate’
Improving performance Extended last question • Obey the rubric, e.g. • note words in bold, • Explain to candidates the importance of the ‘trigger’ words (action verbs) such as ‘Justify’ • Apply the Specification topics to real businesses • Apply the answer to the given business • Practise writing extended answers • Simple phrases/answers (e.g. the ‘quick’ and ‘easy’ approach) without context or explanation receive few or no marks
Preparing for future papers Helping centres maximise student performance
Delivering the unit • Influence/availability of resources: • Textbooks – these include • Barrett (Nelson Thornes) • Carysforth and Neild (Heinemann) • Denby and Thoma (Hodder & Stoughton) • Fardon, Nuttall, Prokopiw (Osborne) • Jones, Raffo and Hall (Pearson) • Surridge (Collins)
Delivering the unit • Influence of JCQ Performance Descriptors • Internet sites • Eg vocationallearning.org.uk • Developing vocationalism, sample assignments and scheme of work, critical success factors in delivering . . . • Other resources
Helping the students • Variety of approaches • Preferred learning styles: an active (vocational) approach is encouraged • Reinforcement • Tests, quizzes • Past papers • Edexcel Candidate Kit
Summary: centres can expect future papers to . . . • follow a ‘single business’ or a ‘single location’ theme • be constructed using the same influences • vary in the number of questions asked (normally either 9 or 10 in total) • be similar in style • be designed and laid out to assist on-line marking