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Preparing for exams

Monday, April 29, 2019

We have just released concise summaries of the 2018 Computer Science GCSE examiner's reports for both OCR and AQA boards. They are perfect for the final preparations for students, to focus them on the likely grade boundaries, what examiners may specifically be looking for as well as where the all important marks can be picked up. The summaries were put together by our Computer Science subject lead, James Franklin, who reflects here on this important run up to external exams.

Each year, exam boards create very thorough examiner’s reports. Teachers who get the most out of these will often:

  1. Download all the necessary papers, mark schemes, examiner’s reports and grade boundaries
  2. Do the exam paper themselves
  3. Go through the mark scheme
  4. Read the examiner’s report
  5. Note any key points that may be useful to their classes to help them to improve

I must admit, that whilst this is the best way, I often found that I didn’t do this because it takes hours of time. In fact, often I might be so busy that finding the appropriate paper, mark scheme and grade boundaries was more than I had time for.

Indeed, I constantly hear from examiners and read in reports the same comments year after year, which makes me wonder whether like me, many teachers simply don’t have the time to read everything.

I remember well the students who would ask me ‘How many marks do I need for the top grade’ or ‘Can we use calculators?’. I would often have forgotten the perfect answer and would find it hard to find it before the next class came in.

Equally, I remember giving final sessions of revision that often didn’t focus on the areas or misconceptions that many suffer.

For these reasons, I’m delighted that PG Online has given me the opportunity to do what I never had time for and produce a concise report that can be used in preparation and exam revision.

In just three sides of A4, you have:

  • The grade boundaries for recent papers
  • Key details about the papers such as whether a calculator is allowed
  • The most interesting and useful advice from last year’s exam

This is one key document that we hope will save teachers time and improve your students' success. It is available to download direct from our website here.

Naturally, if you think that the document can be even more helpful to you, just let us know about any amendments or updates by emailing us at And if you find that it’s useful or saves you time, we would of course love to hear from you too.

Good luck to you and your students with their exams.

James Franklin

Lead Editor for Computer Science