Comparing the D&T Specifications

which exam board?

No one exam board that is better than any other and each has advantages and disadvantages. A department's choice of specification will depend on lots of different factors and it’s important that a key factor in the decision making process is what is right for the students. 

When the specifications were first released we produced some summary documents to try to objectively compare the specs, along with some key questions departments might ask themselves when choosing an exam board. Note these are our opinion only & departments must also do their own comparisons of the specification and other supporting documents provided by each exam board. It’s also important to note the documents were produced before the specifications were taught and are therefore a general overview only.  

Our documents can be used & adapted by teachers in a department but must not be used in any other way without permission. 

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Comparing the approach to the written exam

Comparing the approach to the NEA

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AS Level

This document is not specific to Product Design and Fashion and Textiles and compares the approach to the exam and NEA only. 

Download the document

Check with the relevant exam board as some boards no longer offer AS D&T

A Level

This document is not specific to Product Design and Fashion and Textiles and compares the approach to the exam and NEA only. 

Download the document

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10 Key Learning Areas in D&T

GCSE Specs summary

Our 10 Key Learning Areas in D&T document compares the GCSE specifications against each other in more detail. See this document on the Documents to Support Curriculum Mapping page

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Questions to think about when comparing specifications

The exam

  • Do questions reflect a modern approach to D&T?
  • Which spec integrates NEA knowledge with exam content so students see a link?
  • Are non stereotypical products/images used (especially ones that avoid gender bias)?
  • Do questions default to a particular material area bias when they could be inclusive of all material areas?
  • Do questions get students to regurgitate knowledge or do they focus on the application & analysis of knowledge?
  • How much ‘in depth’ knowledge of any area do students need to have for the exam? 
  • Which paper layout will suit your students? (e.g. do some papers have more to read than others? Are questions laid out in a logical way? When there’s choice is it obvious what these are & how to respond?)


  • Which grading approach suits your students best?
  • Which approach helps students understand grading criteria & how to get a high mark?
  • Which spec encourages a more investigative approach to NEA (and therefore a more natural one and one more in line with what D&T is) and a less linear model?
  • What are the implications of the rules for the level of support and feedback for each exam board e.g. for internal target set, data management, reporting?
  • Do you need any further clarification from the exam board about the level of feedback and support you are allowed to give students, particularly in relation to standard systems and procedures that exist in your school?
  • What exemplar work does the exam board have for the NEA? Does it reflect a realistic number of hours of work? Does it accurately reflect the marking criteria?

Other questions to think about when comparing the specs:

  • Which spec interprets the original Subject Content the best and the best overall vision for D&T?
  • Which spec gives you the most flexibility to teach your vision of what D&T is?
  • What spec meets the current (and future) needs of your students the best?
  • Is the spec content up to date with accurate and contemporary examples?
  • Which spec follows on the best from KS3? 
  • How could content be covered at KS3 to help reduce pressure at KS4?
  • How much content has to be taught and to what level of depth?
  • How much detail in the spec do you want as guidance? Does the detail aid teaching and learning or reduce your flexibility and ability to be creative? 
  • Would a particular spec offer a good short term solution with a department working towards offering something different in the longer term?
  • Which specification flows the best into to A level and other post 16 options?
  • Which board offers the best support?

Find a course to support your D&T curriculum

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