How to do well in your GCSE exam

This exam is worth 40% of your GCSE mark. Use your time for preparation wisely. Stay focussed!

1.  Make sure that all coursework is finished and up to date before you start
     your exam unit. Don’t expect to be able to prepare and present all your development
     work in the five minutes before you hand it in!

2.  Is the brief clear? Can the examiner understand why she is looking at what you have

3.  Start with the critical studies. Remember that ‘all art starts with art’. Critical studies
     are not a bolt on the end: “Oh, I’ve finished my art work, all I’ve got to do is choose an
     artist” are the words of a failing candidate.

4.  Preparatory studies are obligatory.  Ensure you have submitted enough evidence for
     an accurate assessment to be made. Every page of your sketchbook needs to be
     thought about, with your drawings edited etc. Get credit for your ideas by making
     them noticed. Don’t lose marks by putting a rushed, half-finished drawing in a half-
     empty sketchbook. Ensure you have enough time to finish the drawing. A big
      proportion of your marks will come from these preparatory studies.

      Make sure that there are art studies, observational drawings and substantial
     evidence of idea development (and that the development relates to the art that you
     have studies).

5.  Presentation matters. Make sure that a clear visual theme runs throughout the exam
     preparation studies. Remember that the examiner is following a trail of your journey
     through the development of your assignment.

6.  Plan your exam time carefully.  Remember that a smaller final piece demands
     stronger preparatory studies. Show off your strengths. Don’t try a technique that you
     have never used before.

How to plan your time for your exam

  1. Decide what sort of work to make or what discipline you will work within (painting/drawing/sculpture etc).
  2. Identify the starting point.
  3. Outline the route you are going to take to arrive at the examination piece.


A01 Analyse and evaluate critical sources such as images, objects, artefacts and texts, showing understanding of purpose, meanings and contexts. Look at artists’ work -respond (show understanding)
A02 Develop ideas through sustained investigations and explorations, selecting, and using materials, processes and resources, identifying and interpreting relationships and analysing methods and outcomes. Experiment with techniques (materials)
A03 Record observations, experiences, ideas, information and insights in visual and other forms. Develop your ideas, collect things to help with this
A04 Present a personal coherent and informed response, realising intentions and articulating and explaining connections with the work of others. Make a personal response.Final piece


How to display your work

  1. It must look as if you care about and believe in your work. This doesn’t mean that every sheet should look pristine – some examiners like work to look as if it has been ”loved” – as if you have worked from your sketchbook as you’ve made your final piece, and as if your sketchbook has been your constant companion for the past year.
  2. You need to display each unit clearly and separately.
  3. You do not need to mount loose sheets of work but try and create a sense of unity about how they are displayed.
  4. Make sure that the connection is clear between each sheet of preparatory studies, the relevant sketchbook page and your final piece. Maybe put a photo of your final piece on the cover of your sketchbook.


How to evaluate vour work

You will have time at the end of your exam to evaluate your work.

  1. The evaluation should show what you have discovered, what you have made as a result of these discoveries and what you are going on to next.
  2. The evaluation is not an assessment. Don’t write “I could have done this better”.
  3. Group together what your thoughts were.
  4. Go back through the unit and find 2-3 key issues that you discovered and that mattered when you made your final piece.
  5. Make connections between your work and the work of the other artists that you’ve studied.



G O O D     L U C K