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Candidate 1 - "Technology: our servant or master?"

General Marking Principles for the portfolio

This information is provided to help you understand the general principles you must apply when marking candidate responses to this portfolio. These principles must be read in conjunction with the Detailed Marking Instructions, which identify the key features required in candidate responses.

(a) Marks for each candidate response must always be assigned in line with these General Marking Principles and the Detailed Marking Instructions for this assessment.
(b) Marking should always be positive. This means that, for each candidate response, marks are accumulated for the demonstration of relevant skills, knowledge and understanding: they are not deducted from a maximum on the basis of errors or omissions.
(c) The candidate’s writing will be marked in terms of content and style.
(d) Assessment should be holistic. There will be strengths and weaknesses in every piece of writing; assessment should focus as far as possible on the strengths, taking account of weaknesses only when they significantly detract from the overall performance . Marks should be awarded for the quality of the writing, and not deducted for errors or omissions. Writing does not have to be perfect to gain full marks

Detailed Marking Instructions for the portfolio

Consistent technical accuracy is a requirement for a mark of 8 or above. Consistent technical accuracy means that few errors will be present: paragraphs, sentences and punctuation will be accurate and organised so that the writing can be clearly and readily understood; and spelling errors (particularly of high frequency words) should be infrequent.

Assessors should assess the essay in terms of content and style and arrive at a final mark. The following tables for each genre of writing should be used in helping assessors arrive at a mark. The band descriptors in the tables refer to the middle of each marks band.

For each of the texts, the Marker should select the band containing the descriptors that most closely describe the piece of writing .

Once that best fit has been decided, then:

  • where the evidence almost matches the level above, the highest available mark from that band range should be awarded
  • where the candidate’s work just meets the standard described, the lowest mark from that band range should be awarded

Otherwise the mark from the middle of that band range should be awarded.

Writing which is broadly discursive

Range of marks

Marks 15 - 13

Marks 12 - 10

Marks 9 - 7


The discursive piece demonstrates, as appropriate to genre:

  • strong attention to purpose and audience
  • strong understanding and engagement
  • evidence of skilful research and selection
  • strong and sustained line of thought/ convincing stance
  • clear attention to purpose and audience
  • clear understanding and engagement
  • evidence of careful research and selection
  • clear line of thought/ engaged stance
  • adequate attention to purpose and audience
  • adequate understanding
  • adequate evidence of research
  • adequate line of thought/ stance


The discursive piece demonstrates, as appropriate to genre:

  • linguistic features of the chosen genre used skilfully to inform/ argue/ discuss/persuade and convey depth and complexity of thought/objectivity /insight/persuasive force
  • confident and varied expression
  • effective structure which skilfully enhances the purpose/meaning
  • linguistic features of the chosen genre used clearly to inform/ argue/ discuss/ persuade and convey thought/ objectivity/ insight/ persuasive force
  • clear expression
  • structure which enhances the purpose/ meaning
  • linguistic features of the chosen genre used adequately to inform/ argue/discuss/ persuade and convey thought/ objectivity/ insight/ persuasive force
  • adequate expression
  • adequate structure

Range of marks

Marks 6 - 4

Marks 3 - 1

Marks 0


The discursive piece demonstrates, as appropriate to genre:

  • limited attention to purpose and audience
  • limited understanding
  • limited evidence of research
  • unclear line of thought
  • very little attention to purpose and audience
  • very little understanding
  • very little evidence of research
  • confused line of thought
  • no evidence of the skills required in terms of content, style and accuracy


The discursive piece demonstrates, as appropriate to genre:

  • linguistic features of the chosen genre used in a limited way to inform/ argue/ discuss/ persuade and convey thought/ objectivity/ insight/ persuasive force
  • limited expression
  • limited use of structure
  • very little attempt at using language effectively
  • many errors in punctuation/ syntax/spelling
  • very little use of structure

The candidate has chosen to write a discursive essay on the topic of technology and its influence on our lives. The essay demonstrates adequate attention to purpose and audience. The topic is vast and the candidate deals with a range of relevant arguments for and against technology. The essay has an adequate line of thought and shows adequate understanding of the topic.

The essay starts with a short opening paragraph, where the candidate introduces some of the main points they will deal with in the essay.

Paragraph 2 opens with a short topic sentence which introduces the first main aspect of the candidate’s essay – technology and its influence on communication. The paragraph lists some of the key ways new technology allows us to communicate and the improvements it has brought, eg the immediacy of communication. The candidate moves on to look at the negative consequences of communication and uses a successful linking phrase to introduce the opposing arguments: ‘There are downsides to communication through technology’. The candidate then focuses on teenagers in particular and their vulnerability when online – a relevant and current issue. The candidate makes valid points in this section and demonstrates a line of thought.

In paragraph 3, the candidate develops the idea of the vulnerability of young people online by considering the difficulty parents have in relation to policing what their children are viewing online. The essay uses the example of inappropriate video games to illustrate the main point. However, the candidate’s argument becomes less focused at the end of the paragraph with the statistics about video games and the assertion that, ‘violent behaviour from gamers is caused by video games’. There is some less fluent expression in this paragraph with the phrase, ‘because of parents not being able to make the internet more filtered’. However, the expression in general throughout the essay is adequate.

The fourth paragraph introduces a relevant new point – the influence technology has on family life. The paragraph considers the idea that interaction between family members has declined as a result of our use of technology. This paragraph includes some more complex expression in the sentence, ‘Individually, family members are leading separate lives in rooms apart, each accessing a different form of technology’. The paragraph ends with the idea that Skype and FaceTime are better ways to communicate than telephone as they allow ‘face-to-face communication’. This is a valid point but could have been developed further.

In paragraph 5, the candidate considers several ideas which fall under the broad topic of the internet’s negative influence on young people’s view of themselves. The essay deals with several relevant ideas, including the pressure to use social media, the influence of celebrities on body image, cyber-bullying and its possible results, which demonstrates adequate research and the candidate’s genuine interest in the topic. There is some confusion in this section over the deaths of two different girls – ‘a 14 year old girl from Italy’ and a British girl. The candidate seems to merge these two separate incidents together.

The sixth paragraph which begins, ‘You can store an unimaginable amount of information online’, moves on to the topic of online privacy. The candidate uses the contemporary high profile case of the actress Jennifer Lawrence to illustrate the dangers of storing information online. This paragraph illustrates a valid counter argument about the convenience of storing information online. The candidate then uses the linking word ‘However’ to introduce a further negative point about our online footprint and targeted advertising. This is quickly followed by two more relevant points about how online information might affect employment chances and online fraud. This section again shows evidence of adequate research, but several of the points would benefit from further development.

Paragraphs 7 and 8 deal with the effects of technology on young people’s education. Paragraph 7 introduces a new concept about technology distracting pupils from learning in class. The eighth paragraph follows on with the valid suggestion that literacy levels may be declining as a result of technology. The candidate considers the quite complex counter argument that the way we read may just be changing, rather than our reading abilities declining. Again, the candidate’s points are relevant and discussion is adequate but could be developed further.

The concluding paragraph is short but the candidate’s stance is conveyed. The candidate states that ‘technology benefits our way of living’. Although the candidate has demonstrated this point throughout the essay, this statement could have been more successfully balanced with some reference to the various negative aspects of technology considered in the main body of the essay. The essay ends with a rhetorical question, which again adequately conveys the candidate’s stance on the topic.

This is an adequate essay at Higher level and so is placed in band 9-7. The essay topic is a wide-ranging one and the candidate shows adequate understanding of aspects of it, although individual points would benefit from further development in places. The essay is characterised as adequate in the following areas: the candidate’s use of research, the essay’s structure and the use of the linguistic features of the genre with examples of linking, topic sentences, use of balance, statistics and rhetorical questions. It is awarded -

8 marks