Thoughts on the Candidate Statement

First – Happy New Year!

OK – onto business.

All of your final year students must write a 300-word candidate statement to be attached to page 5 of the Candidate Record Booklet. Here are some thoughts and suggestions.

1. Use a computer

As an examiner, unless the candidate has very legible handwriting, I would recommend that your students use a computer to compose and print the statement, so that there are no worries about whether it is legible or not. Also, the word-count and spelling can then be easily checked.

2. Option A or option B

Students are being asked to write a critical analysis of their externally assessed component. Many option B candidates do not do this: most candidates seem to write about their studio work whether they have chosen to take option A or option B. If you have option B students they should write about their investigations.

3. Focus and Content

“Critical analysis” implies some degree of objectivity and a sufficiently wide vocabulary to successfully discuss/analyse either the studio or investigation: the statement is not assessed, but it is the first thing the examiner reads from the candidate.

It’s an introduction, and a long, repetitive, rambling account of how the candidate ‘always loved art’ and has spent two years producing a whole exhibition ‘full of wonderful artworks’ may not really be the best use of the 300 word allocation (I have read a fair number of this kind of statement).

Statements need not be overly formal, and there is of course nothing wrong with enthusiasm – but an objective, articulate and thoughtful account that incorporates some or all of the 12 ‘key words’ (provided in the CRB – page 5, and below) is more likely to be useful than a statement that seems more like a sudden, spontaneous and superficial outburst.

All of the key words relate to important aspects of the course: concerns, sources, influences, context, skills, techniques, media, scale, purpose, process, achievements and focus. By carefully building these words/ideas into the statement, the candidate will be giving the  examiner useful and relevant information.

4. Draft, review, revise, rewrite.

You could ask your students to write statements about their work at various times throughout the course (e.g. at the end of the first year?), but either way – ideally – the statement that they write for the Candidate Record Booklet should have undergone some sort of developmental process.

I am going to ask my final year students to write first-draft candidate statements next week, and I will go through the statement with each student, to see how it reads, to check it for spelling errors and word count, to see if it makes sense and is a reasonably accurate reflection of what the student has been doing.

Al the best for 2011!


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