A2/A Level: Research Based Essay (RBE) for GCE Chinese Edexcel

Overview of Research-Based Essay (RBE).  The RBE is Section D of the Edexcel A2 specification.  Students write an essay in Chinese (250–500 characters) about an area of interest to them and which they have researched in advance. Students are be free to set their own titles for this activity. All research must link to Chinese culture and/or society and to a specific topic area, film or book chosen from a prescribed list.  Students are not permitted to take any books, notes, dictionaries or texts into the examination room. However, they may refer to a plan which they must complete in advance of the examination using the Edexcel GCE in Chinese Research-based Essay Form.

Why have an RBE?  The exploitation of target-language source materials for the research-based essay contributes to the language-learning process and to increased use of the target language in the classroom. It encourages wide reading, individual research, and personal initiative. It provides the opportunity for students to acquire the skills of researching, selecting and organising material in a piece of work written in Chinese.  A choice of essay title linked to one of the prescribed topics or texts enables students to explore and write on a topic that interests them. It enables students to express their ideas in their own words in the target language and promotes greater knowledge and understanding of the target-language culture.

About the RBE – the detail:  The research-based essay carries 30 out of the 80 marks available for unit 3. Students should  prepare for this during their course so that they are able to produce an essay that is 250-500 characters long (excluding the title, bibliography and punctuation spaces). The teacher should ensure that writing skills are sufficiently developed to allow candidates to perform at an appropriate level.

Students must be guided to produce a title which clearly shows that the essay is solidly based on Chinese-language society and culture. Candidates must focus on analysis and evaluation rather than straightforward description or narrative. Expressing the title in the form of a question can often help to identify an appropriate focus.

Essays related to the prescribed books in the section of Literary texts must focus on the text itself and not on the life or the general technique and writing style of the author.

Candidates from the same centre may use the same essay titles and must not, under any circumstance, produce identical and/or ready-made essays. This would be regarded as plagiarism. Each student must produce their own response.

While teachers should teach the topics and texts, and give general guidance on essay writing, it is essential that candidates prepare an individual essay.

What must students do to meet the requirements of the RBE?

·         Do extensive reading in Chinese (and, potentially, in English)

·         Choose a topic based on their personal interests and individual research

·         Devise a clearly focused title

·         Give their work an evaluative and analytical dimension

·         Reflect seriously on the topic

·         Express the ideas and knowledge developed during their research in their own words

·         Ensure that the content of their essay is firmly rooted in the target-language culture

What are the examiners looking for in the RBE?

Completion of task: Appropriate title that clearly states what the essay will be about.  Knowledge of subject demonstrated as well as intellectual competence.  Higher end marks will also be awarded for critical anaylsis which is well argued. 

Organisation and development:  How well planned it is, conciseness, factual knowledge and arguments are presented succinctly.  Top level marks are awarded to essays which include evaluation and explanation and end with a convincing conclusion.

The essay should be within the 500 characters.

Quality of language:  How fluent, varied and accurate the Chinese is.

For more information:  Go to the Edexcel website GCE A-Level Chinese page for sample commentaries of the RBE as well as the RBE guide.