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FAQs for AS & A Level Art and Design (9479)


External Set Assignment (Component 2)


When are the test date windows for 9479?

You can schedule the test anytime within the test date window. The test date windows are as follows:

  • June series: 1 January to 30 April
  • November series: 1 July to 31 October
  • March series (restricted entry): 1 November to 27 February

When and where can I get the Question paper from?

The Question Paper will be available from the School Support Hub and, if you have made an estimated entry, the DFD (Digital File Despatch).

The Question Paper will only be available in an electronic form and will be available to download from the School Support Hub on 1 January for the May/June series, 1 July for the October/November series and 1 November for the March series.

The question paper can be distributed to candidates as soon as it is received.

How long do students have to prepare?

This will depend on when the centre distributes the question paper to students and when the centre schedule the test.

Can we send the Question paper to students in an email?

Yes, once the question paper is available for you to download, you can distribute it how you prefer. However, students must have a copy of the complete question paper.

How long is the preparatory period?

There is no set length as it depends when the centre distributes the question paper to students and when the centre sets the date for the test.

Can students carry on working on their supporting studies after the preparatory period?

No, students cannot carry on working on the supporting studies once the timed test has started. Students should have submitted their supporting studies ahead of the timed test and their supporting studies must be available to them during the timed test. All work, including the supporting work must be kept securely during the test. Centres must ensure that no additional work is brought into the test once the test has started and all work must remain in the test room at the end of session. Students are not permitted access to the work during the timed test and the centre must ensure that the room where the test is taking place is secure in order to prevent any loss or damage to the work or misconduct. Students cannot add to their work or amend it after the test has finished.

Does the test have to be completed on the same day?

No, this is a 15-hour test. The assessment can be held over several days, ideally consecutive days (excluding weekends). A maximum of four within a three week period.

What happens to the test work overnight?

The examination room must be locked securely overnight and after each timed session. Candidates are not permitted to take any supporting work home with them and must not bring more preparatory work in once the test has started.

Do students have to draw?

Drawing is part of communicating ideas, which is an essential skill in art and design. Students can use drawing at whatever level they are able to as a means of recording ideas and observations, developing ideas and communicating meaning and visual language.

Do students have to write anything?

It is not necessary to write anything, but students need to be able to record their ideas and observations. The creative work should explain the journey and the decisions the student has made without unnecessary annotations. Annotations can be useful to support visual evidence to explain what things have changed or what the student has been thinking and can be included where relevant.

What happens if a candidate finishes before the end of the test?

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.

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

Art and Design examinations are taken under examination conditions and standard invigilation requirements apply. Arrangements should be in place for supervised rest breaks, please refer to the Cambridge Handbook here for more information.

Do students have to be supervised for lunch breaks?

No, the room should be made secure during any extended breaks.

Can students use iPods/MP3 players during the test?

No, please refer to the Admin Guide available on our website, where you will find on page 4 that ‘Mp3 players, personal radios or mobile/cell phones are not permitted.’

Can candidates bring their own objects into the examination room?

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

Can candidates present photography/digital media work?

Whilst candidates may present photography/digital media work, the work must be printed and submitted as a hard copy.

Alternatively candidates could enter the AS & A level Digital Media & Design (9481) syllabus which may be better suited to their specific course requirements. For AS & A Level Art and Design (9479) photography can be used as a method of research and development for any of the areas of study or as a specific media within Fine Art.

Can candidates submit work electronically?

No, you must submit the work on A2 sheets. High quality photographs of 3D work can be mounted on the sheets along with the supporting studies.

Candidates can work in any size and format but they must select work and present it on A2 sheets. They can photograph work and print the photographs and submit them along with their other two-dimensional work.

Can candidates use drawing software from tablets, laptops and mobile devices?

Candidates wishing to produce work in a digital format should enter AS/A Level Digital Media and Design (9481). All work for this syllabus must be submitted as hard copy, we do not accept digital submission. Where students use drawing software, they should print screenshots showing the layers, tools or filters they have used when putting together their supporting studies. All sources should be referenced such as websites and images.

Can we submit work electronically?

No, work must be submitted on A2 sheets. High quality photographs of work can be mounted on the sheets along with the supporting studies. Work may be presented on both sides or single sides, as long as you do not produce twice as many supporting sheets.

Are there some materials that we cannot send?

There is no restriction on the size and scale of work produced during the test BUT all work must be submitted on A2 sheets of paper. Work that is larger than A2, fragile or three-dimensional must be photographed, printed and mounted on A2.

In addition, there is a list of inappropriate materials that you should not submit and you are advised to check with your local courier company and CITES website.
Glass must not be sent.

When can my students trim and mount their test work?

Trimming and mounted (on paper not board) should be completed as soon as possible after the test and the work must be held securely after the exam (e.g. while it is drying) before being despatched to Cambridge.

What is the structure of the 9479?

  • Component 1 coursework
  • Component 2 externally set assignment
  • Component 3 personal investigation, A Level only.

This syllabus is not available to private candidates.

For the A level, can you take all three components at the same time?

Candidates may sit all three components in one series, should they wish to.

Can candidates take Component 3: Personal Investigation only?

Candidates may take Component 3: Personal Investigation in one series, but they have to have already taken the AS. They may take it as part of a staged assessment route or they can take all three components at the same time (linear route).

What resources are available to support Cambridge syllabuses?

Teaching resources can be found on the School Support Hub page for your syllabus.
For syllabuses, specimen papers, past papers, mark schemes and examiner reports look under the Syllabus Materials tab.

For support materials, including the Coursework Handbook, Guide to Administering Art & Design, Schemes of Work and Example Candidate Responses, look under the Teaching Materials tab.

The Resource List tab directs you to endorsed and suggested resources including textbooks and websites. You can also access these from the Support material section of the subject's page on our public website.

For more details about the support types available, and how to use them for planning, preparing, teaching, assessing and revision, see our guide Cambridge teacher support, which can be downloaded from the School Support Hub homepage.

You can also visit our Discussion Forums, where teachers discuss resources and teaching methods, and you can ask questions and receive a response from our subject expert moderator or from other Cambridge teachers in our Community.

What textbooks are available for my subject?

From the Resource List tab on the School Support Hub page for your syllabus you can search for textbooks for your subject. No particular book is necessary for a course and teachers are advised to choose the textbook that best suits their needs. Many of our syllabuses are supported by a range of different endorsed textbooks to ensure that schools have choice. There is information on the back of endorsed textbooks about which examination series it was first produced for.

Endorsed resources go through a rigorous quality-assurance process to make sure they closely reflect the syllabus and are appropriate for Cambridge schools worldwide. Resources may be ‘endorsed for full syllabus coverage’ or endorsed to cover specific sections, topics or approaches. Look for the specific ‘endorsed for…’ logo on the resource.

What training and professional development is available for my subject?

Cambridge online and face-to-face training courses are designed to support you by providing you with the knowledge and skills required to deliver our syllabuses. These can be booked through the Events and training calendar.

How can I find out about any changes to the syllabus?

This information can be found Changes to this syllabus section of the syllabus, which can be downloaded from School Support Hub or the subject's page on our public website. Changes are described in detail within this section. Throughout the syllabus, any significant changes are indicated by black vertical lines either side of the text.

If a syllabus update document is listed next to a syllabus this is notification that the syllabus has been updated to reflect a change. The changes that have been made will be clearly indicated in the syllabus update.

Where do we get the themes for coursework from?

The teacher, in consultation with the student, will set appropriate themes. Teachers may want to look at past papers for possible themes – sample briefs and themes are available to download from the School Support Hub.

Are the coursework components assessed by teachers?

No, from 2019, teachers do not have to assess the coursework component (Component 1) or the Personal Investigation (Component 3).

Can we submit work electronically?

No, work must be submitted on A2 sheets. High quality photographs of work can be mounted on the sheets along with the supporting studies. Work may be presented on both sides or single sides, as long as you do not produce twice as many supporting sheets.

Can we work on a larger size than A2?

Whilst you can work in any size and format you must select, edit and present it on A2 sheets. You can photograph work and print the photographs and submit them along with your other two-dimensional work.

How many sheets can the learner submit for the Personal Investigation (Component 3)?

The current syllabus (2019 -2021) does not stipulate an amount of A2 sheets to submit for Component 3, although we set a word limit and ask students to present the work into an integrated and cohesive presentation.

For the revised syllabus for 2022-2025 we have added ‘up to 8 A2 sheets’ as guidance. This is the maximum size and volume for submission. Students can choose to work in any size and media throughout the course and this will depend on their choice of study. However, they must present their work no larger than A2 (no USBs or CDs) and no more than 8 sheets. This advice is applicable to submissions from 2020.

Please note: the Personal Investigation should not been seen as two separate parts (practical and written) – it should be integrated and cohesive. The practical work and written elements should inform and support each other. It is not a repeat of component 2, but is in-depth and goes beyond the requirements of component 2.

Students may produce work during the course that is larger than A2, three-dimensional or an installation project, or land art. However, their submission must be presented on A2 sheets, so they will need to photograph work as necessary. We do not accept USBs, CDs or web-based links or applications.

For more information and guidance we have produced a variety of different support material. We offer on-line training course here.

The School Support Hub also enables teachers to access a wide range of support material.

Here you will find:

  • the Scheme of work
  • Learner Guide
  • Course Handbook

Finally, we have new published resources endorsed by Cambridge International.

Can candidates send in sketchbooks?

Sketchbooks are no longer a requirement for this syllabus.

For more information and materials on this syllabus, please visit our School Support Hub here.

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