The 4/PSWOT form and filling it in can be daunting at first – but one thing is always important to realise when finishing and sending off the portfolios of student work. This is that only the investigations and project with the highest marks are needed to be sent for each criteria. The rest of the projects should be recorded but NOT SENT. A relief for the postman and also the examiner I believe.

It is also always important to choose a variety of different project activities – rather than attempt to do a small number of design and make projects which tend to not cover all the criteria it is recommended that design and make activities are mixed with smaller lab style investigations focused on one of the four criteria areas – Planning, Research, Development and Evaluation. Teachers should also be careful not to give too much information so as to limit the opportunity for individual students to show their own work especially when coming to smaller assessments that should be open ended.


Most important to not use common teacher led problems with this criteria and for students to follow an individual process of constructive discontent to conduct a feasibility study, identify a user, write a brief and detailed specification. One tip is to use photographic evidence of a problem as this can easily show the need of the user to what is to be designed.


Remember to ask your students to plan the research and to make sure that data comes from a variety of primary and secondary resources, including both qualitative and if possible quantitative data e.g. DO NOT JUST USE SECONDARY RESOURCES FROM THE INTERNET!


For this criteria there must be design based activities that allow students to model ideas using a variety of media – including CAD, freehand sketching, physical modelling etc. It is important that development is shown from initial ideas to the final engineering drawings (yes traditional drawings such as Isometric and Orthographic work well) or CAD printouts.


Often rushed by students – and so a lot of marks can be lost. Remember students must test their product with the user identified for the use designed for.  When the criteria asks for recommendations this must include – revised specification, sketched modifications and how the product may at the moment be craft production but could be scaled up to batch or mass production.

Manipulative Skills

To demonstrate skills in this area students can often go too far or produce too much. In essence a detailed plan of action is needed including technical descriptions of processes and timing, materials and risk assessments and a diary of making with photographs.

Quite a lot to take on board from the examiners – but important advice as some of these issues happen time and time again. It is very important to guide students from an early stage in smaller projects that enable them to address each criteria and get to understand what is necessary, and then also to realise when they have hit the top grades in that area that this will be the grades that count and are taken forward. Next tips from the examiners – Paper 1 Multiple Choice Madness!