That Blue Square Thing

Applied ICT A Level Unit 10 - Advanced Spreadsheets

Note: this page applies to the AQA Applied ICT A level specification. This exam was withdrawn in 2012, with final exams in 2013. The content will be retained as an archive and because it has some stuff that might be quite useful for someone or other

Circuit board imageSections A, G-O - The Exam Time:

It's 20 hours long. I'd suggest balancing time a bit like this might be a good starting point (I'd appreciate feedback after an exam actually: it might not work anything like this in real life!)

Organise - 30 minutes

Time for sorting out folders and the user area and making sure everything is set up right. You'll also need to set aside 15 minutes at the end of every session to:

Create Spreadsheet - 3 hours

You'll need to create the sheet itself. You might want to take screenshots as you go along for section H. I'd suggest saving these as jpg files in Paint - you can simply come back to them and insert them whenever you want that way.

You may want to create one version with nothing hidden and then the final version with all the hidden stuff happening - you'll find it easier to produce some of the screenshots with the non-hidden version.

Your order of work might be:

  1. create and name sheets
  2. change column/row dimensions on each sheet
  3. enter typed details on each sheet and format text (including entering any data into a data sheet to use in lookups)
  4. create named areas/cells
  5. working on each sheet in turn, add features such as drop downs and formulae
  6. produce macros
  7. final formatting - including the hiding of areas etc...

I'm not convinced this list will work for every project mind, so I'd be interested in feedback on this. It's always worth a dry run to see if the order needs tweaking at all.

Testing (Row G) - 3 hours

This is where you follow your testplan (from Row F) through and evidence the testing. You'll need to make sure you create a screenshot library and document the testing you've done in detail.

Make sure that your tests are clearly documented and labeled and that some of your tests try to "provoke failure" - i.e. 'break' the system by entering data which should not be accepted. Again, this should be planned for in advance.

Row G Markgrid
Note: this markscheme is a copy of one available freely on the AQA Applied ICT webpages. It is copyright AQA and reproduced here simply to make access easier for students. No attempt to claim copyright is being made, although I could have copied the text into my own interpretation...

Documentation (Row H) - 7 hours

There are 18 marks for this. You need to document what you've done in detail. Precisely. Using screenshots where necessary. And explaining where required.

Note: you do not need to provide user guides or go through showing exactly how you made the sheets. The screenshots need to show what has been produced and do not need to tell the story of how you made it.

I would follow the markgrid through line by line and create a subsection for each row. My documentation would be in that order, even if it involves some duplication or cross referencing.

Row 1 - Managing Work (2 marks) - screenshots to show each element of this, including of having backed up effectively.

Row 2 - Effective System (3 marks) - screenshots and/or print-outs (including of printed outputs), annotated to show how the system meets the client needs. I would make sure I specifically referenced each client need. Be picky. Really picky.

Note: this is not how to do it - just what you have done and why.

Row 3 - Formulae (3 marks) - formulae view prints might do the job here, although you may need some screenshots. Annotated for the third mark. Reference every client need which is relevant (some may not be linked in any way to formulae).

Row 4 - Complex Features (3 marks) - make sure you have a list of the 5+ complex features you're using (see the document on the Unit 10 homepage which lists them). Then simply evidence them, probably using screenshots. You may be able to reuse some screenshots, which is why I would suggest saving them as image files. Again, linked to client needs for the third mark.

Row 5 - Macros (2 marks) - evidenced through screenshots of buttons and macro code (Alt-F11 to get into the code). Note the subtle link to client needs which is necessary for the second mark? Again, be very specific about which client need(s) are being met by each macro. And, yes, evidence all your macros.

Row 6 - Reusability (2 marks) - either show that you created the sheet as a template (screenshots of the file icon and of you saving it as a template) or evidence of macros which clear the sheet and (perhaps) store the data. Explain why and how for the second mark.

Row 7 - Output (3 marks) - show the output - either to the screen or to the printer (or sound maybe, if you're being weird and odd...). Once again, link to the specific client needs for the third mark.

See, I told you client needs were really, really important didn't I?

PDF IconRow H markgrid

Ongoing Timeplan (Row I) - Ongoing, about 1 hour

This is dealt with in the timeplanning section. Note that there may be aspects of row I (especially the second mark) which get dealt with in your evaluation. That's fine.

Evaluation (Row J) - 5 hours

Note: 10 out of the 38 marks you can get in the controlled conditions are for evaluations. That's over 25% of the marks. Allocate plenty of time to it - and then do it in some detail.

You need to:

  1. evaluate your spreadsheet using the evaluation criteria from Row D. You might want to take a grid in as a paper copy to write by hand on. Note the need to be critical in the top mark band - this means to be thorough and careful and detailed in your evaluation - to be really picky. Cross reference your points to screenshots and your test grids - it's fine if these are in other sections of the work
  2. suggest improvements as a result. Note that these could be things that you can't do, such as adding images or logos, others could be things like validating postcodes using visual basic or using more complex macros to do things

Then you need to evaluate your own performance:

  1. identify strengths - hopefully things like backing up regularly might come in to this area
  2. identify weaknesses
  3. identify areas for improvement - time management is often a good area to include in this, as is having follow up meetings with the client more often, designing in a bit more detail etc... These should probably stem from weaknesses by the way!

You must cover all of these areas to get into the top band of the markgrid - as well as covering the Quality of Written Communication aspects.

Image iconRow J Markgrid

Contingency Time - 1.5 hours

Some of this might be taken up with dealing with ongoing timeplan issues or backing up files of course.

You should probably look at That Blue Square Blog for all the really good other A Level stuff.