FAQs for AS & A Level Art and Design (9704)

My candidates’ work is too large to send, can we send photographs instead?

The guidelines for the size and weight are published in the relevant syllabus but any fragile or bulky work should not be sent. Good quality photographs that show the development of ideas, the scale of the outcome and the work as it progresses can be submitted instead.

The syllabus says two sheets of paper no larger than A1, can this be double sided?

Different components have different requirements, please check the syllabus. Generally if we ask for two sheets then it can be double-sided to make four sides.

Where can I find the dates for the examination? It isn’t in the syllabus; does that mean it can be anytime?

Please refer to the examinations timetable here and the samples database here for up to date timetables and submission dates. 

My student wants to create some of their work on an iPad, is this allowed?

Yes as long as it is submitted on a format that is readable and a hard copy is supplied. As for all digital submissions, please ensure that the candidates meet the assessment objectives, and make it clear where work is their own original idea, and where software has been used or secondary images have been modified.

We sent our work to Cambridge on time and it has been returned to us by the courier. What do we do?

We would ask you to send the work again possibly using a different courier and ensuring that the package is clearly labelled. We will do our best to get it marked as a matter of urgency so that your results will be issued on time.


Can photography be used as a medium? If so, can multiple photographs be used or does it have to be a single one?

Yes, photography is perfectly acceptable as a media for any of the AS/A level components.

We have received a notification that one of our students work has been retained as a ‘standard’, what does this mean?

In accordance with the our Code of Practice we retain work for standards and/or training purposes. We provide face-to-face training to teachers and we refer to live work as well as
reproductions. We also standardise the marking at the start of each series by referring to the ‘standards’ from the previous series. This is to ensure parity of marking from series to series. The work is automatically returned to Centres after the next series’ coordination meeting.


What are ‘supporting studies’ or ‘preparatory work’?

Supporting studies or preparatory studies are the body of work that is produced by the candidate in the time between receiving the question paper and taking the examination. The supporting studies or preparatory work should show the development of ideas from an observational starting point and evidence of their research and exploration with materials and media.

What is the ‘examination’?

The examination or controlled test is a timed test. All candidates will take at least one examination which is in response to a set of questions set by Cambridge. The length of the examination is different depending on which level of qualification is being taken – please refer to the appropriate syllabus for details.

Does Cambridge send us the coursework topics?

No, coursework topics are not sent by us. Teachers may want to look at past papers for possible ideas for topics though. Past papers are available to download from the School Support Hub



Where do I find the question paper?

The question papers are available to download from the School Support Hub (password protected). For AS/A level 9704/1 the question paper for the November series is uploaded on 1 July and for the June series it is uploaded on 1 January. In addition, all Centres are sent hard copies. Centres are reminded to submit provisional entries and final entries on time.

When do we hand out the question paper?

The question papers for 9704/1 can be handed out, at the discretion of the Art teacher, on receipt. All candidates must have at least three weeks’ preparation time.

Does the examination have to be taken in one sitting?

AS/A level 9704/1 is fifteen hours and Centres are expected to schedule this over two-three consecutive days, where possible.


Can candidates bring their own objects into the examination room?

Yes, they can use the preparatory period to select relevant objects and make initial studies and plans of compositions and layout in their supporting studies.

My student has made a dress for their examination, how can they send this to be marked?

The guideline for size and weight of exam pieces is in the syllabus but fragile or bulky work should not be sent. Good quality photographs that show the development of ideas, the scale of the outcome and the work as it progresses can be sufficient as part of the submission. Where possible the actual examination piece should be sent to Cambridge for assessment.

Can my candidates take a tracing of their final composition into the examination?

No, this should be completed as part of the examination. Candidates are allowed to take their supporting study into the exam to work from. Tracings should be attached to the back of the examination work when submitted.

Can candidates have mobile phones in the examination room?

No mobile phones/smart phones should be permitted in the examination.

Can my students pre-prepare a background before the exam?

Yes, candidates can prepare a ground or a wash on their examination paper but tracings and outlines should not be prepared before the examination.

What happens if the candidate has finished before the end of the examination?

If a candidate has finished before the full examination time, they may leave the examination without disturbing the other candidates. However, they will not be allowed back in the examination if they then decide to return later.

What happens with the work overnight?

Please ensure that the examination room is locked securely overnight. Candidates are not permitted to take any supporting work home with them and must not bring more work preparatory work in once the exam has started.

I have a candidate who wants to use animal fur/tobacco/glass/skin/sterilised blood/matches is this permissible?

No. Please be advised that there are a number of inappropriate media and if you are in any doubt you should contact customer services. Teachers should be aware that certain materials create problems with Customs and Excise or are CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species) listed.

Do candidates have to be accompanied to the toilet during the examination?

Art and Design examinations are no different to other examinations and standard invigilation requirements still apply. Arrangements should be in place for supervised comfort breaks, please refer to the Cambridge Handbook here.

Can the head of Art and Design be the invigilator?

The teacher who has prepared the students should not be the sole invigilator. However, it is advisable to have a technician or the teacher on hand to assist with any technical issues at the start and during the examination.

My students are doing photography/digital media; can they use a laptop in their examination?

If it is relevant and essential to the examination then yes, care should be taken to ensure that all of the assessment objectives are met and where CAD software is used, this is identified. All secondary sources should be credited and screen shots of the developing work are useful as evidence in the supporting studies. A hard copy should be provided with any digital submissions where applicable. The Centre must verify that the work produced during the examination is the un-aided work of the candidate/s concerned.

The syllabus says trimming and mounting of work do not have to be part of the exam, but that we have to send the work to Cambridge after the exam, when can my students trim and mount their photographs?

We do not require work to be mounted and pieces should not be framed. Any trimming and mounted (on paper not board) should be completed as soon as possible after the exam and the work must be held securely after the exam (e.g. while it is drying) before being despatched to Cambridge.

Do I need to submit Outline proposal forms (OPF) for coursework (9704/2, 3)?

No, these are only required for 9704/4.

Where do I find OPFs?

You can download an interactive PDF version from the samples database here. The form is also available under the Teaching Materials tab on the syllabus page of the School Support Hub

Do I have to submit one and by when?

No, but we would always recommend that you do. We suggest that the outline proposal forms are submitted before students start work on their study see page two of the form, point 5. If you are entering for the June series the last date for submitting an OPF is 31 October of the year before, if you are entering for the November series then the last date for submitting the OPF is 30 April of the same year. At six weeks prior to the date when the works itself should be submitted to CIE we will not provide comments on the suitability of the proposal and will assume that the candidate is nearing completion of the study.

How do I submit them?

Email them to

We haven’t sent in any OPFs, is this a problem? When should these be submitted by?

Outline Proposal Forms should be sent to Cambridge before candidates commence work on component 4, so that the moderators can give the candidate direct feedback. We suggest that OPFs are submitted by 30 April for the November examination series and 31 October for the June examination series. If you have missed the deadline, please submit the OPFs as soon as possible, but please note that you may not receive feedback.

We have had the OPFs returned with no comment, why?

The deadline for receipt of the OPFs is 31 October for the June series and 30 April for the November series. If we receive OPFs after these dates we will still process them - but you may not receive any comments. All forms received within six weeks of the submission date (30 April, 31 October) will not receive comments on the suitability of the study. That does not mean that the candidates cannot proceed, it simply means that we will not provide comments on the outline as we would expect that at that point in the course candidates have completed or are nearing completion of the study (submission of OPF is not compulsory but it is recommended).

Can we start work on 9704/4 as soon as the coursework has been completed?

Paper 4 is worth 20% of the course and you won’t have enough time, we would suggest that you run this part of the course at the same time as the coursework, not only will it inform candidates' coursework, but it may help achieve a greater understanding of the Assessment Criteria.

Can students work on their studies if we have not heard back from the OPF moderator?

Yes, please don’t delay work on the studies whilst waiting to hear if they have been approved or not.

I have a student who wants to do their Study on poverty (or tourism, dance, football, liberation, pets), will this be approved?

No, personal studies are concerned with the student’s response to works or art/design by established artists/designers. If a student wants to produce a study on how the theme of poverty has been portrayed by various artists (named) with some of the examples having been seen at first-hand (not on-line or in a book) then this is fine.

Is it acceptable if one of my students wants to study artists that are local to us? Do they have to study the work of famous artists?

Students can choose any artist/designer/craftsperson to study. They should be able to see some of the work itself and not just on-line or in a magazine or book. In some cases, students opt to do a comparison – so they are able to view some work in-situ and then compare it with the work of another more famous piece of work that they are not able to see in person. It is not a good idea to choose to study the work of someone well known to the student (such as a family member or tutor) as there is a chance that they will feel they can’t be as honest in their critical analysis as they should.

Can the study be A4 or A3 and should it be typed or handwritten?

The study can take any appropriate format.

Can we submit a power-point presentation?

A power-point could be part of the presentation but whatever format is chosen; it should reflect the breadth and depth of study required for the component, and meet all of the assessment objectives.


What is the process for selecting a sample of candidate’s work? 

Use the samples database to help you select the sample for moderation. The number you need to submit depends on the type of component. The selection method and deadlines are also listed on the database.

Where can I find more information about how to mark coursework?

Examples of candidate responses at a range of marks, is available on the syllabus page of the School Support Hub under the heading Teaching Materials.

Where can I find examples of student work?

Example candidate responses are published on the syllabus page of the School Support Hub under Teaching Materials.

Can I send candidates work on a memory stick?

No, we would prefer that USB sticks are not sent. CDs are preferred but please include hard copies as a back-up.

I have six candidates, shall I send a sample of their work, or work from all of them?

The samples database will help you select which candidates work should be submitted. Where you have a small group e.g. six; all of the candidates’ work should be sent for moderation.

Do I need to put comments in the Individual record form, or just the marks?

No, you just need to input the marks, for each assessment objective.

The coursework deadline says 30 April, is it acceptable if we send the work on 27 April, it will take a few days to get to the UK?

Yes, you have until 30 April to submit the sample and your marks. The same principle applies to the October/November series where the submission date for coursework is 31 October.

How do we send the work to Cambridge?

You will be sent large white plastic envelopes to despatch the work to Cambridge with pre-printed labels. It should be sent by a track-able courier service and please remember to pack components separately.

Where can I get the labels from for the students work?

Labels will be sent to you but there is a soft copy Coursework identification label on this page of our website.

Will Cambridge send the artwork back? If so, when?

Currently all work submitted for 9704 AS/A level Art and Design will be returned automatically and free of charge after the end of the Enquiries about Results period has ended. If your Centre has submitted an appeal or an Enquiry about Result then the work will not be returned until the appeals process has ended. We reserve the right to retain work for training and standardisation purposes in accordance with our Code of Practice.

The submission date is during our vacation, and we cannot send the work, when should we send it?

You should send the work as soon as it is completed, don’t wait until the submission date before despatching the work. If the last day of term is the last day of the examination and candidates need to trim and mount the work before it is sent, please send the work as soon as possible after the examination.

The candidates are working in oils and the work will not be dry the next day, what should we do?

Please try and schedule any work that needs time for drying or firing as early as possible in the examination period. You must ensure that all work is thoroughly dried before it is despatched.

I’m not happy with my student’s results, what should I do?

You can request an Enquiry About Results service. There are several options and a fee is payable. You would need to use CIE Direct to make an application. Full details can be found in our guide here.

How can I talk to other teachers using Cambridge syllabuses and share ideas?

The Forum is the pace to start and contribute to discussions with other teachers. It is a great way to share ideas and inspiration and to gain support from other teaching colleagues in Cambridge schools. You can access the forum through the School Support Hub, under the Community tab. 

Was this article helpful?
0 out of 0 found this helpful
Have more questions? Submit a request