Assessment Report

Level 2 Classical Studies 2021

Standards 91200  91201  91203

Part A: Commentary

Primary-source evidence is being utilised well, but careful integration relating to the question needs to be encouraged. Candidates should be implored to select and utilise evidence of direct relevance to their selected question. Pre-planned answers are to be discouraged. Candidates need to be able to apply their knowledge and understanding to the questions provided. 

The broader context of the classical world is crucial for higher grades. Integration of evidence into discussion, alongside relevant historical, artistic, political, mythological, social contexts can enable candidates to develop the required insight. Merit and Excellence candidates tended towards well-structured and crafted essays that developed an argument.

Part B: Report on standards

91200: Examine ideas and values of the classical world

Examinations

Candidates in general needed to carefully choose the right question for them, rather than try to fit content to a question. Successful candidates were able to identify all significant aspects of the question and discuss them equally. Question 1 had three important aspects: leadership, decisions, and values – many candidates ignored one or more of these, which automatically prevented candidates from attaining Excellence. Many candidates that chose this question using the Odyssey ignored leadership and discussed heroism. While heroism and leadership have many similarities, a strong response needs to explicitly recognise and navigate this and not treat leadership and heroism as synonyms.

Text choice is very important. Sappho's poetry is incredibly nuanced and difficult as a level 2 text. The difficulty of the character aspect of the texts and the content explored in Sappho needs to be thought about carefully if assessing how appropriate this text is. Candidates using Medea and Lysistrata need to ensure the discussion is considering classical views at the time the text was produced. Viewing these texts through a modern lens can often confuse the candidate and shift the focus to a contemporary interpretation.

In a similar vein, teachers need to be careful when selecting texts for candidates to use for this standard and ensure that they can be clearly linked to ideas and values of the classical world. They also need to be clear about the difference between classical and modern ideas and values, and which are the focus of this standard. For example, with feminist interpretations of Lysistrata and Antigone, candidates can get off track and discuss a feminist interpretation of the plays, labelling Aristophanes and Sophocles as feminists, which is inappropriate for the standard. A significant focus for preparing candidates for the standard needs to be on applying the text to a variety of questions using the contexts provided in the assessment specifications. Candidates need to be discouraged from trying to memorise answers. 

To elicit higher quality responses, a shift in focus from description (describing events / episodes of the text) to explanation (explaining how and why the events are relevant to the chosen question) is needed. The incorporation of concepts is helpful, however, just mentioning the concepts and stating they were important values is not enough. Respondents need to unpack and explain how and why these concepts are explored in the text and their significance to classical society and how the text is an artefact of understanding these values. Respondents need to reframe their understanding of the intent of this standard.. The intent of the standard is to explore how classical texts are vehicles for understanding ideas and values – this can get lost in responses, which become plot driven or predominantly textual in nature.

Grade awarding 

Candidates who were awarded Achievement commonly:

  • submitted a straightforward response, which meant that at times it had limited evidence from the text or was very general. For example, they might have discussed conflict in The Odyssey at Book 9 only with Odysseus and Polyphemus without much other evidence from the text
  • provided primary sourcing to help substantiate their points. Responses were generally plot and description heavy, but some interpretation of how the narrative relates to the selected question was provided
  • attempted to frame the response to the question
  • focused on some parts of the question and ignored others
  • responded to a question without reshaping a rote-learned answer, hence the incomplete and unbalanced nature of the responses. Generally multiple examples or episodes used, often implicitly relevant to the question
  • provided minimal links to the wider context
  • provided detailed answers but were mostly textual recounts, not interpretations of the text.

Candidates whose work was assessed as Not Achieved commonly:

  • did not address the question in their response
  • did not know their selected text well enough, or chose a context from the text that did not match the question effectively
  • did not finish the response
  • chose the wrong question, or chose a question that did not allow them to use the text they had studied effectively as evidence
  • did not provide primary evidence
  • used post-classical evidence without providing enough evidence from the classical world, as required in the standard
  • described a story / plot without applying the knowledge of the text to the question (a lot of what, not how or why)
  • demonstrated incomplete understanding of their chosen text.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Merit commonly:

  • had a good understanding of the text and were able to provide evidence from the text, either directly quoting or paraphrasing
  • were able to make some informed analysis of ideas and values from their selected text to ideas and values of the classical world and state what those values were
  • were more focused on explanation rather than description (when compared with Achieved candidates)
  • linked episodes / examples to classical concepts or ideas and values
  • focused on the question, though most Merit respondents did not answer all aspects of the question to the same degree
  • interpretation of text was not consistently detailed or not able to consistently embed relevant wider contextual points
  • relied on quantity of evidence that often undermined the focus of the response.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Excellence commonly:

  • had insight into both their selected text and the ideas and values of the classical world
  • included good evidence from the text and, in some cases, were able to use ideas from secondary sources, although this was not an expectation
  • were comprehensive and well written and in some cases there was a clear argument written around the question
  • developed a clear conclusion
  • balanced textual and contextual interpretation
  • were selective in their use of evidence as a vehicle to discuss ideas and values
  • displayed perception by explaining how and why the chosen evidence reflected ideas and values at the time the text was constructed.

91201: Examine the significance of features of work(s) of art in the classical world

Examinations 

Strong responses were coherently structured, and the points made were clearly related to each other. Points were related closely and consistently to the question. They had an overall point of view regarding the significance of the work, which was presented clearly at the beginning and consistently examined using detailed evidence throughout the response, with confident conclusions drawn as a result. Sketches and drawings tended to have minimal influence towards strengthening the response, although these were done well in some instances. 

Discussion of the context of the work (mythological / societal / political / historical) should be done mostly in relation to the features of the work, rather than as a separate unrelated section of the response. Although some description or background is useful, candidates should try to tie it into their examination of features. For example: 'Pentheus' mouth is open, and his eyes are rolled back in horror, in an expression of absolute despair at the inevitability of his horrific fate. Such was the price for offending Dionysus.'

Candidates need to read the questions very carefully. Some candidates struggled with the male / female form question (3), seeming not to see the word 'OR' (which was in capitals), and weakening the detail of their response by writing about both male and female. Some candidates also misread question 4, which asked solely about a building, rather than an artwork or building, and this weakened their ability to give a strong response. Candidates should be reminded of the importance of reading the question very carefully and not rushing into their response.

Candidates need to remember that they are examining the features of a work of art, and this must be part of their response. Some candidates focused almost solely on the societal / political  / historical / mythological context of the work and paid little attention to the features, which was unfortunate. Generally, responses were strong and clearly written. Overall, candidates attempted to respond to both parts of the question, which was pleasing to see.

Grade awarding 

Candidates who were awarded Achievement commonly: 

  • demonstrated a reasonably sound knowledge and drew general conclusions as to the significance of the chosen work
  • may have provided a response that was flawed in one aspect, which precluded their being enough evidence for this level
  • produced an unbalanced response that may have only partly addressed the question
  • tried to cover too many pieces without relating them to each other. This weakened the amount of detail given and reduced the possibility of providing an in-depth response
  • spent a lot of time describing the mythological or historical context without discussing the work itself. For example, a candidate examining the fresco, 'The Death of Pentheus,' might spend more than a page describing the myth with no reference to the features of the fresco.

Candidates whose work was assessed as Not Achieved commonly:

  • provided a limited / general explanation of the features of the chosen work, but not enough specific explanation for this level
  • demonstrated limited understanding of the work due to too many inaccuracies
  • produced a very short response which may have had some accurate information, but not enough for this level
  • focused on the historical / mythological / political context of the work and did not examine the features of the work itself in relation to the context.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Merit commonly:

  • demonstrated detailed and accurate knowledge of the chosen work
  • tended to focus on one work and examine it in depth, or focused on more than one work, but examined how they related to each other in detail
  • addressed both parts of the question, although treatment could be unbalanced.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Excellence commonly: 

  • knew their chosen work/s comprehensively
  • selected the question that best allowed them to demonstrate their knowledge and insight
  • alluded to any art-historical debate pertinent to the work
  • incorporated critical viewpoint/s using primary and / or secondary sources to do so and drew perceptive conclusions based on evidence
  • looked at a progression of works in relation to one another. For example, candidates may have discussed the development of sculptural styles from the early kouroi, and then to the Kritios Boy and Diskobolos
  • focused on one piece in depth, but made comparisons with earlier and later works in order to draw perceptive conclusions as to changes in styles
  • focused on one work in depth, and drew perceptive conclusions as to the historical / political / mythological significance of the work. For example, a candidate examining Myron's sculpture, Athena and Marsyas, might have commented on the representation of the Goddess as personifying the best of Athens: calm and composed, in contrast with the bestial nature of the hubristic satyr. A very strong response may have drawn a parallel with the depiction of civilisation versus savagery on the Parthenon metopes.

91203:  Examine sociopolitical life in the classical world

Examinations 

Popular political topics that allowed candidates to develop their ideas to an Excellence level were Solon's reforms, the formation of the Delian League and the Fall of the Roman Republic / establishment of the Principate. This year candidates sometimes chose inappropriate questions for their subject knowledge. Candidates who did the best for political questions had teaching concentrating on preparing candidates to write about causes, consequences, and context with equal preparation. Primary-source evidence was used best when incorporated into the argument. Perception often developed out of the analysis of the values behind specific quotes. Candidates who did the best for social questions had teaching concentrating on how aspects of social life fit in with a wider social context.

Grade awarding 

Candidates who were awarded Achievement commonly:

  • gave straightforward answers that addressed the question, although these might have contained some errors or lacked detail in areas
  • used explanations that were simplistic and to the point
  • used key words from the question
  • demonstrated understanding that included some relevant detail
  • answered the question without developing their answers
  • used minimal references to primary-source material or correctly used Greek / Latin terms
  • used primary-source material that was relevant to the context in general, rather than to the specific point being made
  • provided extensive background to a context, rather than focusing on responding to the question
  • had good arguments with limited reference to sources.

Candidates whose work was assessed as Not Achieved commonly:

  • provided limited or no primary-source evidence
  • under-developed their explanations
  • misread the question
  • chose the wrong question to suit their knowledge
  • wrote in generalisations
  • provided brief or irrelevant responses to the question
  • used pre-prepared answers rather than responding to the specific requirements of the question
  • did not provide specific examples
  • used Greek / Latin / technical terms incorrectly or not at all.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Merit commonly:

  • provided a range of primary-source material, but may not have been able to maintain a consistent use of evidence
  • discussed their primary sources but did not consistently analyse them
  • showed a good deal of knowledge, but did not link this to a wider context to enable perception
  • focused heavily on narrative, at the expense of depth, missing the opportunity to analyse the specifics of the question and, therefore, show perception
  • often chose to display depth of knowledge in areas that only tangentially answered the question
  • made good use of primary sources.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Excellence commonly:

  • displayed discernment in their selection of points
  • showed excellent knowledge, understanding, and interpretation of the question and context
  • addressed the limitations of sources where appropriate
  • incorporated primary source evidence consistently and elaborated on its significance where appropriate
  • addressed all aspects of the question in detail, providing developed conclusions that showed insight
  • linked their answers to a wider social context or long-term consequences
  • wrote responses that were focused, providing depth and breadth to their answers, devoid of unnecessary narrative.

Classical Studies subject page

Previous years' reports
2020 (PDF, 388KB)

2019 (PDF, 278KB)

2018 (PDF, 135KB)

2017 (PDF, 57KB)

2016 (PDF, 226KB)

 
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