Higher Question Paper
In addition to the production of an Art & Design Studies Unit, Higher candidates sit a one hour written paper which is externally marked.
Candidates must answer two questions: one full question (parts (a) and (b)) from the Art Studies section; and one full question (parts (a) and (b)) from the Design Studies section.
Part (a) of each question examines the candidate’s ability to respond to examples of visual art and design. Their understanding of art and design issues is tested.
Part (b) of each question examines the candidate’s knowledge and understanding of the work carried out during the Art & Design Studies unit. Answers should not focus solely on descriptions, irrelevant anecdotal information or exclusively on historical facts.
The time allocated allows for concise answers which answer the specific question set.
Each full question is worth 30 marks: 10 marks for each part (a) and 20 marks for each part (b); 60 marks in total.
Exemplars of candidates’ answers have been broken down to let you see where marks have been awarded.
The questions relate to the six major areas of the visual arts and six major areas of design most commonly studied in the practical work for the course and the related Art and Design Studies. These are:
Art Study Areas
Design Study Areas
The Questions are in two parts, A and B.
Candidates are asked to attempt one full question (parts A and B) in both Art Studies and Design Studies to demonstrate their in-depth knowledge of areas selected for their practical work and related Art and Design Studies.
Part A Questions
This part of the question requires the candidate to critically evaluate selected examples of visual art and design.
In Art Studies candidates are required to critically evaluate:
The use of: identified visual elements and media, methods, aspects of art practice, aspects of communication such as mood, atmosphere, thoughts, feelings, ideas, and meaning in the selected example from a personal viewpoint. Well-reasoned and justified personal opinion and responses to the work are required at this level.
At this level, candidates should demonstrate a well-developed knowledge of critical vocabulary. They should not simply give complex narrative explanations in which they concentrate on describing the action of a work or simply tell the ‘story’ of the work. They must show that they can respond by analysing the example and commenting critically on how the visual elements, media, materials and methods have been used to achieve the artist’s intentions and/or meaning.
In Design Studies candidates are required to critically evaluate:
Identified aspects of design practice and design issues such as style, communication, form, function, and technology, ergonomics and the methods and materials used to achieve them in the selected examples from a personal viewpoint. As with the examples of visual art, reasoned and justified personal opinion and responses to the work are required at this level.
Each area of design has a slightly different emphasis. There are differences in the design practice and issues considered by, for example, a fashion designer and an architect. Candidates attempting questions in architecture should be expected to critically evaluate in terms of design concepts specific to architecture such as the use of space, materials, form and function.
In questions set for product design the emphasis is likely to be on design issues such as function and fitness for purpose, safety and ergonomics. In questions on textile/fashion design, there will be greater emphasis on the use of visual elements such as colour, shape, and texture, as well as materials and how the designer produces for a target market.
Part B Questions
This part of the question requires the candidate to demonstrate knowledge and understanding acquired in their Art and Design Studies. A range of open-ended questions is set to reflect major areas in Art Studies and Design Studies in which candidates will normally be developing their practical work. This is intended to reflect a range of possible learning and teaching approaches to Art and Design Studies. The range of questions should not exclude any legitimate approach to Art and Design Studies.
Part B questions are set to assess historical knowledge and understanding of identifiable areas of the visual arts and design.
The questions are set so that the candidate really has to have knowledge of at least 2 areas of the visual arts and two areas of design/architecture.
This should not be a problem when candidates are dealing with popular areas of study that are historically different such as Romanticism and Realism in Art Studies or Art Nouveau and the Bauhaus in Design Studies. It is more difficult when the selected areas of the visual arts and design are chosen because of stylistic differences and are not separated historically. These should be sufficiently contrasting to allow the candidate to demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the selected area and convey their strengths and interests in their answers while providing enough factual information to convince the marker that their studies have been well researched and their arguments well justified.
Experienced Markers are able to identify and credit knowledge and understanding of the key features of a movement or specific style. This should not be simply an historical description of the life and times of an artist movement or a description of the key features of a designer, style or movement in design. Instead, the knowledge and understanding should relate to the question and clearly illustrate the key points to be addressed. Most questions will ask the candidate to illustrate their answer with appropriate examples. These should be specific to the area of the visual arts or design. The candidate may well know about examples of Cézanne’s landscape work. However, if the question is about still life, then examples of Cézanne’s still lifes should be considered in the candidate’s response.
Similarly, a candidate who demonstrates knowledge and understanding of the Bauhaus by referring, in the main, to examples of graphic design when the question calls for knowledge of architecture or product design will not be able to score highly.
In part B questions, the candidate should show an awareness of design issues appropriate to the area of design and demonstrate historical knowledge and understanding of it.
Specialist knowledge of an identifiable area of the visual arts and of design is therefore a clear requirement in part B of any question.
What is the Range of Study?
The period 1750 to the present is set to allow centres to adequately prepare candidates with an in depth knowledge of the visual arts and design. Markers still identify centres where candidates have been prepared for this examination with historical knowledge outside the range. Candidates will not score well if their answers fall outside of the range set for study.
Defining the artist and the designer
In Art Studies, in questions where the term ‘artist’ is used it should be interpreted in its broadest sense, covering painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, installation, animation, film and video, etc.
Similarly in Design Studies questions the term ‘designer’ should be inclusive of any form of design: graphic, product, jewellery, ceramics, textiles, animation, fashion, illustration, interior or architecture.