Exam time at Gray’s School of Art is a lot different from other courses.

First of all, you don’t do any paper exams. Instead you will have to complete art work, sketch books and essays or for fourth years, a dissertation. If you have previously taken art in secondary school or in college, then you may have a rough idea how it all works.


Just like in secondary school you will produce art work with back up information which demonstrates your thought process and ideas in the form of a sketch book. Sketch books will become a very important part of your experience as an art student. The only way I can make sense of my thoughts is through a sketch book and it helps your tutors and even other students to understand your work.

If you aren’t that confident in speaking about your work, don’t worry you will get over the fear as you progress through the years and if things get personal, use your sketch book because showing written work is better than keeping it all in your head. You might be more comfortable letting someone read your sketch book rather than speaking about it.

Every piece of work must be on your desk, this means; all your sketch class drawings, all sculptures, photographs, sketchbooks, everything

In first year the work you produce will be different to later years as  you will be showing your work in the form of ideas, development and then the final just like in secondary school. This is all to prepare your brain to think that way.  Your work will take place in sketch books and not on 3-8 pieces of A1 paper.

As I am now in fourth year, I am used to producing sketchbooks and treat them in a certain way. I have a separate sketchbook for research such as; the artists that may inspire my art work, exhibitions and even information to back up my work. Another sketchbook for development which I put all my edited photographs in, my thoughts and my ideas that I want to work on and how they turned out.


Second year is a little bit different as you will be given a key word or a brief to work on; this is the time that you will start to find what you are interested in and could become part of your art work in the next couple of years. In January, you will hand in your art work at your desk to be examined by your tutor. You will receive feedback and your results roughly within two weeks. Every piece of work must be on your desk, this means; all your sketch class drawings, all sculptures, photographs, sketchbooks, everything. As well as handing in your work to be graded in January, you will hand all your assignments in May again to be assessed for that year and hand in an essay.

As well as handing in all your assignments, you must fill in a grading system where you grade yourself on where you think you are for each section such as; development, research and ideas. This form is for your tutor to look at to see where your head thinks your work is at. I will admit, I do tend to grade myself quite low but you will meet with your tutor at the allocated time that you have been given and they will go through the grading system that. Do not be discouraged by a D as in first year, I received a D but as the years have gone on, I have improved and now I am sitting at a B. Once you star making art work about something you are really interested in and love, then you will see progress. I started with photos of my pets but it was just photos, it didn’t have any meaning. I then realised that I needed to do research and find a topic I liked to allow my work to go forward.


Third year exam time is the same as second year except that you will complete two essays rather than one. The first year essay is on a lecture that you will have received throughout that year. The second year essay you will be given choice from; comparing two artists work and exploring one artist’s work. In third year you will complete an essay, just like in first year, on a lecture that you have attended in the first semester however, in the second semester you complete a critical essay on your art work and your experience with your exhibition. Fourth year you will be completing a dissertation on a subject that relates to your art work and is between 6,000-8,000 words but do not be scared as your dissertation draft is to be handed in on December and you will be given feedback and then hand in your final dissertation in March.

As a fourth year, I do not receive a grade before Christmas like I have previous years but instead will attend a progress review to see if my art work is on track. I will be presenting work in a pre-degree show in January and then my final pieces of work will be shown in June at an exhibition.


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