A recent OFQUAL report (14 February 2014) confirmed some of our worst fears about the quality of history examination marking. History markers were rated lowest of any subject in terms of accuracy, yes, bottom of all the subjects in the league table.
“In particular, some felt multi-topic subjects, such as psychology, history and sociology, were vulnerable to marking errors as a result of examiners being unfamiliar with topics or periods (Oxygen, 2014; Dodd, 2014). All these subjects are subjective to mark, and all have relatively high enquiries about results unit grade change rates at A level.” in other words, SOME examiners are marking topics they are not fit to teach!
Again on page 24 the report says
“In history or English subjects, a single paper can cover many different historical periods or set texts. We know that topic or text unfamiliarity can be a source of error in certain subjects where a wide breadth of content is assessed”.
The question papers in history as well as the marking has been criticised too.
“Recent sample GCSE history assessments showed inconsistencies in all the exam boards’ mark schemes. This was most likely to be a mismatch between question papers and mark schemes (for example, mark schemes rewarding higher order skills than identified in the question paper). Less commonly, there were also unclear wording and problems differentiating between students. These issues result in qualifications being refused accreditation”.
So, at least the problems are being aired and hopefully nipped in the bud before the new specifications go live.