Supporting the new approach to assessing A-level practicals

The most notable changes to the new A-level physics are in the ways in which practical work will be assessed and reported. And thus the ways in which it is employed during the course.

A-level practicals

There are two components to the assessment of practical work:

  • Questions in the written exams: these will count towards the final grade and provide the only differentiation on practical work; they will be designed to give an advantage to students who have had a thorough exposure to practical activities during the course
  • An endorsement of laboratory techniques: this will be reported separately from the main grade (as a pass/fail). The requirement is that students complete at least 12 practical tasks over the two years. The tasks have to cover a range of skills that have been specified by Ofqual; teachers will have to ensure (and confirm) that students have mastered those skills

The awarding organisations are providing guidance and, in most cases, a pack of teacher and student notes for 12 activities. However, you should not feel restricted to that small set. And no one wants to see the pack being used as a kind of assessment pack – comprising 12 mini ISAs with vast matrices of check lists. There are plenty of additional activities from a multitude of sources that will support the development of the required skills and some of them can even be used to assess those skills.

The above guidance is an extract from the article A-level changes affect practical assessments (from the June 2015 edition of our schools newsletter, Classroom Physics).

The Institute has produced a list of suggested practicals to support this new approach to the A-level practicals.

For further examples of practical activities, visit the following Institute sites:

Other resources: