If you are coming to the end of Year 9 and are getting ready to choose your options for your Key Stage 4, or GCSE as they are better known, years then you might be grateful for a little bit of advice. While you should, first of all, discuss your decisions with your parents, the person teaching you Art and maybe even go to your careers department for support and guidance, we are here to offer you some insight into what you might expect if you were to enrol on the AQA GCSE Art & Design course, the most popular art course in the UK.
Art Design at GCSE will, of course, be good preparation for you before you begin a sixth form art course or decide you wish to enrol on an Art Foundation course as part of your further education. Each part of your art education will help you to transition to the next and have you ready for your prospective career within the field. Even Art History and other subjects linked to Art but not necessarily as creative can benefit from a gcse level art design qualification.
Taking art classes near me can help students to become the very best they can be while tackling this school course.
So, if you are interested in taking gcse art design as one of your options for GCSE, then keep reading to find out more about the course!
Why Study Art GCSE?
You can't just study Art and expect to get top marks because you can draw or paint. Also, it isn't down to the teaching of the course - it's very much a personal subject. You must be prepared to analyse what you see and to experiment with various styles and medium. However, this might add to the appeal when it comes to someone who isn't necessarily 'naturally gifted' as an artist.
If you can't draw or make sculptures, for example, but you are fascinated by the world of art and enjoy playing with different textures and materials then this course could be right up your street.
Throughout the course, you'll get the opportunity to focus on one or more of the following areas:
- Art, craft, and design
- Fine art
- Graphic communication
- Textile design
- Three-dimensional design
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A Guide To Your AQA Art GCSE Options
As we have mentioned above, there are various subject areas in GCSE art that you can choose to focus your attention on. Below, we have provided some detail on the course content covered by each subtopic to give you a better idea of whether it fits in with your professional interests and life aspirations.
During your fine art module, you can expect to do drawing, painting, sculpting, printmaking, photography, installation and other lens or light-based media and mixed media art as part of your design portfolio. As an aspiring artist who wants to reach the highest benchmark of seeing their work in galleries, then this is the perfect choice for you.
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This area focuses on communication graphics, design for print, advertising and branding, illustration, package design, typography, interactive design, (including web, app, and game), multi-media, motion graphics, and signage and exhibition graphics. This choice is therefore very well-suited to those wishing to go onto training and fulfilling a career in advertising after gcse art.
This subtopic is all about textile art like fashion design and illustration, costume design, constructed textiles, printed and dyed textiles, surface pattern, stitched and/or embellished textiles, soft furnishings and/or textiles for interiors, digital textiles and installed textiles. Therefore, anyone who sees themselves in the textiles industry would benefit from having studied this module.
This particular section offers those wishing to express themselves artistically with the opportunity to do with varying mediums and within different settings. For example, this module is made up of architectural design, sculpture, ceramics, product design, jewellery and body adornment, interior design, environmental/landscape/garden design, exhibition design, three-dimensional digital design and designs for theatre, and film and television.
Finally, budding photographers will no doubt be drawn to this area of study because it allows them to develop their skills and experiment with portraiture, location photography, studio photography, experimental imagery, installation, documentary photography, photo-journalism, moving image: film, video and animation, and fashion photography.
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How Will You Be Assessed?
When it comes to your art and design externally assessed course, this Art & Design course is structured as so:
There are two compulsory components. Students must complete both components. You can see more information below or you can download the details of the papers in a pdf online. You may also be able to find past papers to give you some idea of the type of question or theme that is set.
Component 1: Portfolio
A portfolio that in total shows explicit coverage of the four assessment objectives. It must include a sustained project evidencing the journey from initial engagement to the realisation of intentions and a selection of further work undertaken during the student’s course of study.
See further details below on how to get a good mark:
No time limit
60% of GCSE
Non-exam assessment (NEA) set and marked by the school/college and moderated by AQA during a visit. Moderation will normally take place in June.
Component 2: Externally set assignment
Students respond to their chosen starting point from a design externally set assignment paper relating to their subject title, evidencing coverage of all four assessment objectives.
See further details below on how this component is assessed:
Preparatory period followed by 10 hours of supervised time
40% of GCSE
Non-exam assessment (NEA) set by AQA; marked by the school/college and moderated by AQA during a visit. Moderation will normally take place in June.
As you can gather, the majority of your final grade will be given in conjunction with your sketchbook or portfolio (i.e. the work that you complete throughout the past two-year period is key) whilst 40% will be based on how you perform in your final assessment and the final piece of art work that you produce as a result of those 10 hours of supervised work.
What should be in a GCSE art sketchbook?
It might seem quite constrictive having to fill a small-scale sketchbook with your ideas throughout the past two-year course, but the guidelines suggest that there are actually no restrictions on the scale of work you can complete, nor are you tied down to using just basic media or materials. There might also be a bit of art history or information about your favourite artists thrown in.
So, check with your Art teacher first, but, in short, you can go wild and create huge masterpieces to add to your portfolio if you so wish!
Your GCSE art portfolio should, however, be a good representation of your academic journey in this subject.
You should ensure that it responds in some way to a theme, subject, task or brief set out by your course and that it provides evidence of how you have engaged with this subject matter and how you came to your final piece. Your intentions, therefore, should be made completely visible in your language you use to analyse resources as well as on the page so the examiner can recognise them and use this to decide your level.
The idea is that this gives you the chance to demonstrate your ability to draw together different areas of knowledge, skills and/or understanding from across your course of study and connect with such things to produce artwork that is meaningful to you as an individual at this time.
Other important pieces of work to show in your textbook are a selection of further work resulting from craft activities and schemes such as trials and experiments; skills-based workshops; mini and/or foundation projects; responses to gallery, museum or site visits; work placements; independent study and evidence of the student’s specific role in any group work undertaken.
One very important thing to remember is that this component is marked as a whole, so every single visual representation should be to the highest of standards.
The format of your portfolio will vary from page to page and piece to piece, but, ideally, it will include mounted studies, sketchbooks, visual diaries, journals, design sheets, design proposals, models, maquettes, prototypes, storyboards, video, photographic or digital presentations, and records of transient and site-specific installations.
All artists are different, of course, but these are just some suggestions to make your work look broader and experimentation in order to reach the high benchmark set out by the examiners of the course.
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Creating a Brief for Your Final Piece
Your final piece is usually 40% of your overall grade in Art (as is the case for AQA Art & Design) so now you know this news it is good to understand more about this component before you begin the course.
You will have a number of weeks to research the theme of your choice (or the theme set out by your course) and create a preparation journey in your sketchbook.
The final part of the examination project is a 10-hour exam where you will create your final piece, but remember that it must also be linked to your sketchbook research and not come completely out of the blue for the examiner assessing it alongside your coursework. It needs to link up with this past work to get the results you want.
You will be able to add to your sketchbook with things like drawings and other creations during the exam however you ideally want to be focused on your final piece and have already completed all the preparation you need ahead of the day of the exam.
Every teenager's final piece will be different, but the main things to remember are to ensure your final piece clearly links with your sketchbook work and ensuring that it also links clearly with your artist research within your sketchbook. You shouldn't be cautious in your Art course which your Art teachers will surely have told you in their reports - be ambitious with your ideas, but choose materials, schemes and techniques that you feel particularly confident using. Do not try to use a medium you have never tried before during your final exam - this is not the time for experimentation!
Finally, plan the 10 hours well as the time will fly by. You can either set out an hourly schedule or guide or you can simply set out objectives for your first and second days. The exam more often than not takes place in your classroom so you can feel comfortable completing work within your usual learning environment.
Once it is done, it will be such a great achievement and a huge relief!