Assessment Report

New Zealand Scholarship
Art History 2019

Standard 93301

Part A: Commentary

This year, candidates principally focused on two questions, Questions 2 and 5. That said, all questions were attempted and in response to each question answers ranged across most of the assessment schedule.

Some candidates wrote what were obviously pre-prepared essays and demonstrated insufficient knowledge and understanding of a range of art works, which has the effect of constraining the candidate.

Candidates who rely on pre-prepared essays are usually unable to successfully apply their knowledge to the questions asked. Candidates should also resist the temptation to repeat the same examples from one question to another. A demonstration of breadth as well as depth of knowledge is key to success at this level.

To achieve Scholarship, candidates need to engage in detailed visual analysis of a range of specific art works. Visual analysis is a major requirement of Art History, and a lack of visual analysis impedes the candidates’ ability to obtain a reasonable score at this level.

The principal feature that limits candidates’ access to scholarship is a lack of art works. Most candidates wrote well, and this was particularly notable this year, but analysis remains a key skill. As part of this, it is crucial that candidates understand the language of Art History. Candidates at scholarship level should be using art terminology confidently and appropriately. They should, for example, be able to differentiate between style and composition, as well as recognise the significance of line and colour.

Context is usually well considered, but it needs to be relevant and accurate. It is also essential to link context in with style and content. Understanding and explaining how and why art works reflect their contexts is important. So too is accuracy and specific detail in the information offered. Accuracy matters – factual errors weakened a number of responses.

Section C required candidates to explain the main ideas in the text and the writer’s support of these. In responses to Section C, candidates needed to take care to direct their responses to the text, that is, to keep referring back to the text when they are writing about art works. 

Part B: Report on performance standard

Candidates who were awarded Scholarship with Outstanding Performance commonly:

  • offered a critical response to the question that was supported by detailed evidence and reference to specific examples
  • selected works that have real depth
  • discussed ideas and examples in detail to support their argument
  • demonstrated an excellent understanding of the discipline, and comprehensive breadth and depth of knowledge that was relevant to the question
  • wrote an original response
  • demonstrated highly developed skills of visual analysis
  • presented a focused and sustained argument that was characterised by clarity of thought
  • sustained a high quality over all sections of the examination.

Candidates who were awarded Scholarship commonly:

  • identified key words in a question and demonstrated understanding of the question
  • established a clear point of view or argument
  • selected art works that were well suited to the key point of a question
  • demonstrated depth as well as breadth of knowledge in their answers
  • demonstrated skills of visual analysis in response to specific art works
  • remained focused in their argument
  • showed clarity, logical development and cohesiveness in their communication
  • in Section C kept referencing back to the text that was provided.

Other candidates

Candidates who were not awarded Scholarship commonly:

  • did not select appropriate examples, which limited the depth of the candidate’s response
  • demonstrated little evidence of skills of visual analysis
  • wrote answers which did not have the required detail to show depth of understanding
  • outlined general stylistic features (of an artist or movement) and did not relate these to specific works
  • wrote statements that were not supported by evidence
  • included irrelevant or inaccurate material
  • provided responses characterised by generalisations
  • provided a descriptive response
  • demonstrated minimal knowledge and understanding
  • presented a weak engagement with the topic.



Subject page


Previous years' reports
2016 (PDF, 193KB)

2017 (PDF, 43KB)

2018 (PDF, 98KB)

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