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  Chris Hawkes

Non-Examination Assessment: AQA A-Level English Language (2015-on)


For the new specifications, coursework has been renamed "Non-Examination Assessment" - NEA - and only operates at A-Level (not AS). This is a cross-board requirement from OfQual.

Non-Examination Assessment (NEA):
Language in Action

100 marks: 20% of the total A-Level marks

For the NEA component for this qualification, students produce two pieces of work: an original language investigation (around 2,000 words, excluding data), and a piece of original writing with an accompanying commentary (around 1,500 words in total.)

The table below shows the marks allocated to each of the Assessment Objectives for the Languasge Investigation. Note that marks are not evenly allocated across the AOs.

Language Investigation: AO1, AO2 and AO3. Marked out of 50.

Assessment Objective Marks
Appropriate methods of language analysis, accurately written, appropriate terminology
Critical understanding of language concepts and issues
Analysis of how context and laguage features help construct meanings

The Original Writing piece is marked for AO5 only:

Assessment Objective Marks
Expertise and creativity in the use of English

The commentary is marked out of 25 across the five Assessment Objectives (including AO4, "connections across texts, informed by linguistic concepts and methods.")


All centres are allocated an NEA Advisor by AQA. Whilst there is no requirement to have texts or tasks "approved", centres are encouraged to make use of their NEA Advisor if in any doubt about suitable text choice or task framing.

The Specification states that "the basis of the investigation is the value of student-led enquiry supported by open learning." This implies that the student needs ownership of the investigation: choosing a suitable area of research that meets the student's interests, and collecting data independently in consultation with the teacher.

The investigation should be set out as a formal report, using sb-heads to divide the report into the following sections: Introduction, Methodology, Analysis, Conclusion, References and Appendices (the collected data / evidence for findings.)

The second piece is Original Writing, which is assessed against AO5, expertise and creativity in the use of English. Students produce one piece based on one of three areas:

  • the power of persuasion;
  • the power of storytelling;
  • the power of information.

The piece of original writing is accompanied by a commentary which discusses the student's linguistic choices and is assessed against all five Assessment Objectives.

More information can be found on AQA's subject pages:

AQA also have a guide to NEA for teachers: click here.



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