Exam Board Subject Leader
AQA Mr L Fitzmaurice

The AQA exam provides a broad and rigorous education in the field of Computer Science. Across two exam papers, students will study programming which comprises of not only practical tasks but also logical, mathematical and problem solving skills.  As well as this, they will learn theory of the subject. 

There are currently two units for assessment, along with a third practical programming unit which is mandatory but unassessed. This will change in the near future as all exam boards are updating their assessment criteria to ensure a fair and equal method of assessment across all centres. 

The language taught at Key Stage 4 is Visual Basic.NET – This is a forgiving yet very powerful programming language which will allow the students to get to grips with all aspects of the course and one which students should naturally be able to progress to having studied the discipline of programming at Key Stage 3. 

 

Assessment 

The first exam paper, entitled ‘Computational thinking and problem-solving’ will see students posed with a variety of computational thinking, problem solving, code tracing and applied programming tasks as well as theoretical knowledge of algorithms and data representation.

The second exam paper, simply entitled ‘Written assessment’ sees a variety of short and long answers based on the fundamentals of computer systems, networks, cyber security and ethical, legal and environmental issues in Computer Science. Both papers are 1hr 30 minutes long and make up 50% of the assessment each. 

The third unit is a 20 hour mandatory coursework which will see students develop a programme from a scenario provided by AQA. This is often a simple game or utility programme which is interesting and challenging to students. 

 

Skills and Commitment 

The subject is popular but those looking to take the subject should be competent mathematicians. It may also be that students have a strong interest in any field of computer science, ranging from development to the gaming industry, but others enjoy studying the subject because it is challenging and rewarding. Those who study the subject will be expected to develop their programming skills so that they can complete the third unit of assessment independently.