Advanced Higher Biology - SQA

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Advanced Higher BiologySubject-specific guidance on gathering keyevidence in session 2020–21Please read this guidance alongside National Courses: guidance on gathering evidence andproducing estimates and the SQA Academy resource, Quality assurance of estimates forNational Courses.Gathering key evidence for Advanced Higher BiologyThis document and National Courses: guidance on gathering evidence and producingestimates will give you additional support and guidance to support your decision making forsession 2020–21. Evidence should be gathered later in the course, as a realistic reflection ofa candidate’s attainment. It is important to note that it is not the quantity of evidence, but thequality of evidence, in relation to its predictive value, that will support you during thisprocess.The following types of key evidence are likely to provide a good predictive value and may behelpful to you, although there may be other types of key evidence you would like to use.Types of key evidenceThe closer the evidence is to the standard of the biology course assessment, and the moreclosely your marking follows the national standard, the more realistic and reliable yourprovisional results should be. You can use questions from past papers in your assessments.However, you should not use SQA past papers in their entirety.You must base your provisional results on demonstrated attainment.Component 1: question paperIn biology, the key pieces of evidence can include: a question paper, covering as much of the course as possible a supplementary question paper, covering areas not included in the first question paper end-of-topic tests, including grade A marks — you can use these as supplementaryevidence, but they are limited in their reliability for helping you to make a judgementabout your provisional resultYou must gather key evidence in closed-book conditions and under a high degree ofsupervision and control.You should use all the key evidence you gather to help you make a judgement about theprovisional result. You should consider weighting the judgement more towards the maininstrument of assessment. However, your judgement should be holistic rather than focusingonly on the piece of key evidence that gives the best grade for an individual candidate. Youshould give greater weight to the evidence that most closely mirrors the SQA question paper.1

You may need to adjust the cut-off scores you use from notional, so that they are appropriatefor your instrument(s) of assessment. Where it is necessary to split the question paper over anumber of class sessions, you should raise the cut-off scores to reflect this.A supplementary question paper should sample the knowledge not covered in the mainquestion paper, as well as skills. However, it is important that you do not repeat questionsfrom the main question paper in the supplementary question paper, as all questions must beunseen.The Advanced Higher Biology question paper brief on the following page gives the structureof the SQA question paper, and the range of marks allocated to scientific problem-solvingskills and knowledge and understanding. It gives the abbreviated codes for the knowledgeand skills that are assessed. The question paper brief is a useful starting point to ensure thatyour questions have the correct balance and level of demand if you are constructing a centrequestion paper.You should ensure that marks are evenly distributed across each topic that you areassessing. You do not need to assess every key area within a topic, but you should sampleacross the key areas. Using questions that integrate more than one topic can set a higherlevel of demand. It is good practice to apply these principles to commercially purchasedquestion papers or existing centre-devised question papers to ensure that there is the correctbalance and appropriate level of demand. To do this, you may need to modify or substitutequestions.2

Advanced Higher Biology question paper briefMarksComponentKnowledge andunderstandingSkillsTotal70 /-530 /-5100Question paperKnowledge and understanding/skillsRange ofmarks demonstrating knowledge and understanding of biology by makingstatements, describing information, providing explanations andintegrating knowledge (dKU)min 25 applying knowledge and understanding of biology to new situations,interpreting information and solving problems (aKU)min 25 planning or designing experiments/investigations, including safetymeasures, to test given hypothesis or to illustrate particular effects(PLAN) selecting information from a variety of sources (SEL) presenting information appropriately, in a variety of forms (PRES) processing information/data (using calculations and units, whereappropriate) (PROC)25–35 making predictions and generalisations based on evidence/information(PRED) drawing valid conclusions and giving explanations supported byevidence/justification (CONC) identifying sources of error and suggesting improvements toexperiments (IMPR)Additional informationA maximum of two extended-response questions: 12–15 marks in total: One of the extended-response questions will include a choice of topic: 8–10 marks. One of the extended-response questions will not include options: 4–5 marks.One extensive data-handling question: 7–10 marks.One large experimental design question: 5–9 marks.Grade A marks: approximately 30%.3

End-of-topic testsEnd-of-topic tests, which include questions containing grade A marks, can be usefulsupplementary evidence. These tests should contain approximately 30% grade A marks sothat they are of an appropriate level of demand.On their own, end-of-topic tests do not have high predictive value. They tend tocompartmentalise subject content and test limited knowledge. Their focus is on testingknowledge and understanding rather than skills, and they rarely ask candidates to integrateknowledge and skills. You may need to adjust the cut-off scores you use from notional, sothat they are appropriate for your instrument(s) of assessment.The freestanding units are no longer part of the Advanced Higher Biology course and do notcontribute to a course award at Advanced Higher. The freestanding unit specifications andunit assessment support (UAS) packs assess the previous content in the Advanced Highercourse. They are not suitable evidence for provisional results.Marking instructionsCentres must ensure that teachers and/or lecturers apply the marking instructions thataccompany any piece of key evidence consistently. All marking should be cross-checkedagainst the national standards exemplified in SQA past paper marking instructions andcentres should confirm this by participating in centre-based or local moderation activities.Component 2: projectThe project has been removed from the Advanced Higher Biology course for session2020–21. You should not include any candidate evidence relating to the project when makingjudgements about your provisional results.Using additional assessment resources for session 2020–21: key informationIt is important that you use valid and reliable assessment when gathering evidence insession 2020–21.In Advanced Higher Biology, SQA will provide a question paper for session 2020–21. Pleasenote that the marking instructions have not been standardised based on candidateresponses. You may therefore need to agree within your centre how to consistently mark anitem if a candidate response is not covered by the marking instructions.The Advanced Higher Biology question paper will only be available on SQA’s secure website— you must treat this confidentially, in the same way as other live assessment materials.You have the option to use the question paper as an internal assessment for gatheringcandidate evidence. The question paper can be split to support assessments you carry outduring class time.If you use a question paper in part or in its entirety, you should remind candidates that theymust not discuss the content of the paper with anyone, including friends, family or on socialmedia.4

Understanding the national standardFurther information and guidance for Advanced Higher Biology will be published on theUnderstanding Standards website in due course.5

The Advanced Higher Biology question paper brief on the following page gives the structure of the SQA question paper , and the range of marks allocated to scientific problem-solving skills and knowledge and understanding. It gives the abbreviated codes for the knowledge and skills that are assessed. The question paper brief is a useful starting point to ensure that your questions have the .

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