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AQA GCSE Business: How to Nail Your Evaluation in the 9 Marker Questions!

Secret Examiner
10th October 2016
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Hi. It's the Secret Examiner here again with my advice on how to nail that tricky evaluation part of a 9 mark
question in AQA GCSE Business! You want top marks? Then read on (but keep this a secret from your

Following on from my previous 3 “W”’s blog on how to structure an evaluation for a 9 mark question, here is
a little more information to give insight into how to reach those top marks in the E2 bracket.

Just a reminder on the 3 W’s:

* Which option?

* Why you have chosen this option with supporting evidence IN CONTEXT? A repeat verbatim of what
has already been said would not get the highest marks, try and add additional supporting evidence as to
why the judgement has been made, building on the arguments that have already been included in the

* Why is your choice better than the alternative option? This is a great place to show real insight into
the situation of the business, enabling the highest marks to be awarded; is it a better choice because it fits
in with the objectives of the firm more or the situation the business is currently facing i.e. financial situation?

Candidates often spend too little time and do not understand the importance of evaluation to get the top
grades at GCSE. 25% of the total marks on each paper are awarded for evaluation in the 9 mark
questions. This is huge! With grade boundaries tending to be 4 marks apart and a maximum of 5 marks
being available for each evaluation, the importance of writing a fantastic evaluation cannot be
underestimated in every 9 mark question. What follows is an insight into what examiners are looking for in
terms of evaluation marks:

To gain 5 marks for the evaluation, examiners are looking for one very well explained reason as to why
a candidate has made their choice. This judgement must be IN CONTEXT. Alternatively, two or more
reasons can be given to gain the top marks with at least one being well explained. Linking this to the 3 W’s,
make sure that there is enough time and emphasis placed on why the choice has been made and why
it is better than the alternative.

Four marks are awarded when the evaluation or judgement is supported by one reason that is well
explained, again IN CONTEXT or two valid reasons are explained IN CONTEXT. The key difference
here between 4 and 5 marks is the depth of explanation. Make sure sufficient time is spent explaining the
reasons behind your opinion, as otherwise the top marks will not be given.

Three marks is given when one valid reason has been given in the judgement IN CONTEXT.

Many students spend too long explaining long lists of advantages and disadvantages in the 9 mark
questions, rather than streamlining their arguments down to just two, followed by writing a detailed
judgement at the end of their answer.

The key word to remember is depth, both in the analysis arguments and in the conclusion. Around 4
minutes should be spent writing each evaluation in the 9 mark questions – many students write one
sentence, stating their opinion, or they may contradict themselves in their opinion throughout their answer.
Doing this will usually gain E1 (1-2 marks) or at very best the bottom of E2 or 3 marks.

Remember in those evaluations, depth, context and answering the question set is the key to success, with
just one overall opinion explained fully at the end of an answer, rather than having many opinions

Exam Technique - Calculations: Always Show Your Workings Out

Secret Examiner
16th March 2015
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Calculations appear regularly on the BUSS1, BUSS2 and BUSS3 exam papers and knowing how to
approach the calculations can help you to avoid dropping costly marks. For the purpose of this blog I am
going to focus on BUSS1 however this information also applies to BUSS2 and BUSS3 as well as most
other exam boards; both at A Level and GCSE.

In a recent BUSS1 paper, students were asked to calculate the expected market share of the business in
the case study. This question was worth 3 marks. Knowing how these marks are awarded can be really
beneficial to students especially if they don't/ didn't know how to calculate market share.

In order to calculate the businesses market share students needed to work out the firms expected 2013
sales from a cash flow forecast (which covered 2013 and part of 2014), divide this by the 2013 total market
size and then multiply this by 100.

If students correctly calculated the businesses market share then they were awarded (obviously) full marks;
with or without their working out. If students wrote an incorrect answer with no working out then they
dropped 3 marks. But, a student who got an incorrect answer but showed some evidence of understanding
in their working out could have been awarded some marks. Let's look at how the marks are allocated.

Firstly, if students couldn't work out the 2013 sales of the business or find the 2013 market size then 1 mark
could be awarded for just writing the formula, even with no valid calculation.

If students correctly calculated the businesses 2013 sales then a mark was awarded. Another mark was
awarded for finding the total market size for 2013 in the case study and then a further mark for dividing
these two numbers and multiplying this by 100.

So, if students correctly worked out the 2013 sales and then found the 2013 market size but forgot to
multiply by 100 then they would still be awarded 2 marks.

If students did the correct calculation, using the 2013 sales of the business but used the 2014 total market
size instead of 2013 by mistake, then they would still be awarded 2 marks.

In a nutshell, always show your working out! If you can't find the figures then at least write the formula. This
way you can help maximise your marks even if you get part of the answer wrong
Top 10 Tips for the AQA GCSE Business
Studies Exams

Secret Examiner
4th March 2015
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This is my third blog looking at how to develop your exam skills and maximise your marks in GCSE (AQA) Business Studies.

1.Both papers are out of 60 marks and are worth 75% of the total marks for the GCSE – make sure you revise every word
mentioned on the specification carefully!

2.Make sure that you are clear which topics appear on which paper. Revise only the relevant areas for each exam! Again
use the specification!

3.The specification can be found on the AQA website

Print it off and use it actively in your revision!

4.Watch your timing – there are 3 separate case studies to read and absorb in each exam, as well as (usually) 12 questions
to answer in just one hour. Don't run out of time!

5.There are approximately 4 marks between a grade boundary. Missing out or rushing a 9 mark question at the end of the
paper could lose you as much as two grades. Make sure you finish the paper entirely!

6.The Items are provided for a reason – make sure your answers always refer directly to the context given. This will help you
to produce relevant and correctly applied responses.

7.The mark scheme is broken down into four different assessment objectives – knowledge, application of knowledge,
analysis and evaluation.

8.If there is no application to the Item given in an answer, marks are usually capped at Level 1 (knowledge) ONE
MARK only.

9.Three 9 mark questions will appear in each paper. There are 5 marks available for an evaluation in these questions and
only 4 marks for the other assessment objectives. You should spend around four minutes on an evaluation, not just one
minute as an afterthought at the end of your answer.

10.Answer the exact question set. Keep looking at the question to keep your answer focused on the question

GCSE (AQA) Business Studies Exam Skills:

How to Answer a 4 Mark Question

Secret Examiner
2nd February 2015
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This is the first in a series of blogs looking at how to develop your exam skills and maximise your marks in GCSE (AQA)
Business Studies.

Four mark questions (in my opinion) are the key to success in the GCSE Business Studies exams. It is still possible to drop
2 or 3 marks in the 9 mark questions and gain an A*, but in this instance it is absolutely vital to gain full marks in the 4 mark
questions. The 4 mark questions tend to have the command words "Describe", "explain" or "calculate". To maximise your
chances of achieving 4 out of 4, follow these simple rules.

 Spend approximately 3 minutes on a 4 mark question.

 Never define the term given in the question unless the question asks for this. In this case, it would be a knowledge
question and the command word given would be "State" or "Define" and would be worth less marks.
 Take note of whether the question is asking specifically for two points. If it does, two points must be included,
applied to the Item and explained using connectives. The explanation should be in context too. Never provide a list
of points.
 If the question does not say include two points/factors then just one point could be given in the response, although
two points could be included (but never more than 2).
 If you decide to include only one point then this point must be explained in context using a very detailed chain of
analysis via the use of connectives e.g. - "this means that XXXXXX will offer better customer service
resulting in positive word of mouth recommendations, leading to a better reputation meaning more sales".
 Remember the point(s) should be taken from the Item and explained in context.
 Use the phrasing of the question to keep your answer focussed.
 If the 4 mark question is a calculation question, remember to include all labelled workings in your response and
make sure the final answer is clearly identified.
 Do not cross through any working out as crossed out work cannot be marked and if the final answer is incorrect you
may have lost marks for correct working out

By following the above advice and with plenty of practice, you will significantly increase your chances of gaining full marks
on the 4 mark questions.

In my next blog I will be looking at how to answer the all-important 9 mark questions.

Exam Technique Classic: Evaluation in 2

Simon Mansell
12th May 2014
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It all started when one of my A2 students asked me today: “How do you get full marks for evaluation?" in relation to a
BUSS3 Question 4 (the 34 marker)

It can be summed up in 2 words:


(Just a note that the examples given are BUSS3 related but could be applied to any evaluation question in BUSS1
or 2 also)

So what does this mean? Let's break it down...

Relative: adjective
Considered in relation to something else; comparative
Significance: noun

In other words, it is the importance of one point or argument in relation or comparison to another.
So, how can you ensure you are meeting the requirements for “good evaluation"?

In your Points

You need good arguments - so the points you make must be relevant, supported by evidence from the case study,
developed using connectives, with an evaluative sentence at the end (where you summarise the significance of the point in
relation to the question) – for more information on this refer to blog on Maximising your Marks in BUSS3

In your Conclusion

1. Make your Judgement (e.g. in BUSS3 Question 4, do you recommend they adopt the strategy or not?) by weighing
up the relative significance of each point you make in argument. In other words – compare the importance of each
point to the business in the case study.
2. Justify your judgement by providing evidence that you have prioritised the most significant reason for the business
3. Identify the “Depends On" factors that the business needs to consider
4. Make supported recommendations for future actions (BUSS3 only)

Consider using prompts in your conclusions for any evaluation:

 Based on these arguments, I think that…(use part of the question to ensure you are answering the question)
 This is because….
 I believe this is significant for the business because…
 However, it depends on…

Prompts in your conclusions specific to BUSS3 Question 4:

 Based on these arguments, I recommend that…

 This is because….
 I believe this is the most significant for the business because…
 However, the success of this strategy still depends on…
 So I recommend…

Also, a checklist could be used for any evaluation:

 Have I made a clear judgement?

 Have I justified this judgement?
 Have I said why I think this is the most significant for the business?
 Have I identified the Depends On Factors?
 Have I made recommendations for future actions? (BUSS3 Q4 only)

If you practice this enough, you will be on your way to “good evaluation"

Ok, so this blog is a bit longer than 2 words, sorry about that!

If you only remember 2 words, remember these: RELATIVE SIGNIFICANCE.

Developing Exam Technique: Balloon

This is an old technique I used with my students to demonstrate good analysis. It is simple and only involves one thing;
blowing up a balloon.

No matter how hard I try I cannot blow up a balloon fully in one go. It takes me 4 or 5 stages (blows) until I manage it.

This is a bit like analysis. Many students like to try and 'blow up a balloon in one go'. Can't be done properly! All you end up
with is a rather sad looking balloon! To blow up a balloon properly you need to take 4 or 5 logical steps, a bit like an answer.

Many students take a huge leap in their answers and jump immediately to '.....and this will result in extra revenue and profit'
without actually saying HOW or WHY this will end up in extra revenue and profit'.
Try it with the students...it might just hit a nerve......

Spice up GCSE Edexcel Business answers

with some ‘such as seasoning’ for context

Ian Pryer
13th March 2014
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Back in November I blogged about an activity I had used to develop the use of connectives in Year 10 students as part of a
programme of 'Written Exam Skill of the Term' activities. It's worked really well and this term we are developing 'context' as
the skill of the term to add to the confidence of students in using connectives. Here is some advice on context in Edexcel
GCSE Business and an activity that can be used to help students develop this skill.

Context is a vital skill in Unit 3 Building a Business for Edexcel GCSE Business. After Question 1 b,c & d, every question
worth 3 marks or more requires the answer to be linked to the business in question, using real-life knowledge of that
business or reference to details provided in the case study.

Crucially, the rule of thumb for examiners is that if the word/phrase doesn't appear in the question itself and relates
the answer to that type of business context marks can be awarded.

In the course of the Unit 3 paper, there are around nine 3 or 4 mark questions alone. If a student doesn't get context in these
answers they can be theoretically accurate and have excellent chains of argument full of connectives but still give away 9
marks which will probably cost them a grade. Context is also assessed in the longer 6, 8 and 10 mark questions too.

So to help my students, I've developed a simple technique called 'such as seasoning' in which they use the phrase
'such as...' to make reference to a real world example for the business they are discussing. Take a question from last year
as an example of how this works:

4 (c) Explain one benefit to The Lego Group of selling a quality product (3 mks)

One benefit of selling a quality product would be that Lego's customers would be very pleased and satisfied with the
products. As a result they would recommend the products to their friends and family who would also buy them. This would
lead to Lego achieving greater sales and a larger market share than rivals such as Mega Bloks or COBI.

This answer would achieve 2 marks only without the bold italic part at the end, which provides the context for the third mark.
Both of these rival companies are specifically mentioned in the case study.

To help my students practice this technique, I developed this lesson in which they give real-life examples of business
concepts for a variety of industries. For example they must think of variable costs or competitors for a garage, a fast food
restaurant, or hairdresser. They then can choose a question to answer and choose which industry to apply it to. Once they
have done that they swap with a partner and the assess each others work using the checklist. The acid test is this; can the
students guess which type of business their partner is talking about in the answer (from more than just the name of
the business)? If so there is probably context present. The attached file has two versions, one for students in Year 10
who may have only covered Unit 1 material so far and one for students in Year 11 who have covered some Unit 3 material.

I hope colleagues find it useful