PAT folder structure

Below is a screenshot of a PAT hierarchy diagram created as SmartArt in Microsoft PowerPoint. The majority of the PAT marks are awarded for simply following the detailed requirements correctly!

The below diagram is required to be added in Phase 1 as an addendum in your Phase 1 Microsoft Word report.

The requirement is that you organise your work logically and that you name files and folders meaningfully.


PAT Focus Question

The Focus Question is the point of truth for your entire PAT. A concise Focus Question will allow you to maintain focus and keep your project on track at all times. If at any time, you are doing something which does not contribute to answering your Focus Questions, you are off-track.

The following 2 excerpts come from the Learner Guide:

“Produce a single, clear, researchable focus question that will guide you through the task”.

“To manage and complete the task, you must have a clear focus.

Considering the issue/opportunity you have chosen and the requirements of the PAT, you need to set the focus for your investigation. To do this, you must set/ask ONE question (the focus question), which must clearly reflect what the main focus of your investigation will be. The ‘answer(s)’ to this question form(s) the ‘solution’ to the problem that will be reflected in your final report. This question should be added under the heading Focus Question (added in the previous section) and needs to be:

  • A single sentence (not two questions or a paragraph)
  • Clearly phrased, concise and researchable and must describe exactly the focus of the investigation within the broader issue/opportunity
  • Clearly relevant to/be the focus point of the chosen issue/opportunity”

Acing you PAT!

In each of your 3 years of CAT you will complete a Practical Assessment Task – or PAT. When you first receive the Learner Guide – a 30-plus page document – your heart might sink a little. “How will I ever complete this thing?” you might think (I know it’s what I was thinking driving back from my first PAT training session as a teacher).

Your “Project Manager”

Your Educator is your Project Manager, or PM. The PM’s task is to make certain you understand what is required of you, to keep you on track, to guide and assist you where necessary. Your PM should be constantly evaluating your progress and giving you constructive feedback.

Show off!

This is your opportunity to show all the skills you have acquired during your CAT studies. There are even marks for showing skills you have picked up that are not covered by the curriculum. The minimum requirements are exactly that: the least amount of work you need to do to fulfil the PAT requirements. Minimum requirements = minimum marks!

The list below is aimed at highlighting the path to success with your PAT:

  1. Read your Learner Guide carefully
  2. Create a concise Focus Question
  3. Write a power Task Definition based on your Focus Question
  4. Always make sure that the work you are doing now will allow you to fulfil the later requirements of the PAT

The Learner Guide

You will receive a copy of the Learner Guide. It details every single step and requirement and provides examples for you to follow. It is your PAT “Bible”. It also includes a copy of the assessment tool.


Do you think you have completed a section? Take the assessment tool and mark yourself! Not sure you ticked a box? Ask your PM for guidance! 100%: here I come!

Below is a list of links to additional posts dealing with specific sections of the PAT:

  1. Folder Structure
  2. Focus Question
  3. Task Definition
  4. Evaluating research sources for your PAT
  5. Questionnaire

Evaluating research sources for your PAT

Once you have composed the research questions in Phase 1 of your PAT you must find resources that contain information regarding each research question. These sources must be evaluated, the intention is that you ensure that your research is based on “quality” information.

You are required to evaluate 3 of your sources – two website sources and one source that is not a website. The Learner Guide provides you with examples of how to lay the information out in a table:

AuthorityThe ‘validity’ or ‘credentials’ of the publisher or author(s)
– who is this person: a scientist, doctor, professor?
CurrencyThe date on which the material was published or updated
AccuracyThe correspondence of the information with other sources
ObjectivityAny presence of prejudice, bias, skewing of information, et cetera
CoverageHow extensively the material covers the topic
Sample table

Sometimes this information is not readily available in the source material. If for example the date on which a webpage is created or last updated does not appear on the page, inspect the source code, and check to see if the relevant date exists in the meta tags.


  1. Open the webpage in Chrome
  2. Right-click on the page & click on the “View page source” option.
  3. Press CNTRL+F on the keyboard to search the source code for meta tags:
    • search for: date
    • search for: author

Your search might then return the following commonly used meta tags:

<meta name=“author” content=“Another Learner”>
<meta name=“description” content=“Grade 12 PAT website for Computer Applications Technology”>

PAT Task Definition

The Task Definition is a written outline of the proposed project. It indicates an understanding of the task at hand, how the project will be carried out, what resources will be required, and how and to who the presentation will be made.

The PAT Learner Guide explains: “To show that you understand why you are conducting this investigation, you must be able to define, in your own words, what you will investigate and what you are required to do (±300 words or half a page in font size 12 pt. as a guideline)”. Basically, you are presented with a problem that you must investigate with the aim of finding a solution to that problem. What is the problem? Well, it is what you said it was in your Focus Question!

Past PAT’s have included a variety of topics covering a wide range of subjects, from potholes in roads to responsible digital citizenship.

The Learner Guide goes on to list 5 questions:

What is the current situation and the purpose of the investigation (desired outcome)?
Provide a clear statement of the problem (current situation)

What will be the desired outcome (focus & purpose) of my investigation?
Indicate the focus of your investigation, i.e. give an overview of which of the aspects will be investigated and covered – in other words, the headings you will use and the purpose of the investigation (desired outcome) – why you are doing this investigation.

How will I go about the investigation considering all the PAT requirements?
Specify in broad terms how you will approach the task (study the requirements / steps of the PAT and indicate how you intend to collect the data and information, manipulate it, etc.)

Who is the information for (target audience)?
Identify the target audience for the final report that will be drafted.

What format will the information be presented in?
List the program(s) that you will be using for each phase of the PAT.

Write a paragraph “answer” for each of those questions: do not include the question itself and answer the questions in the above order. Remember: the Task Definition and the Focus Question must correlate.

Top tips on following page…


PAT Questionnaire

Phase 2 of your PAT requires you to create and execute a questionnaire.

Create a questionnaire as a one-page Word document. Your goal is to collect data that you will be able to analyse as required – most importantly: you need numeric data!

Tip: if your name and surname & the name of your school appear in the footer it will be easier to keep track of the paperwork!

Create a sub-heading: “Biographical questions”. This set of questions gathers information about the respondent. Include a minimum of 4 questions:

  • Age (in years)
  • Gender
  • Area of residence
  • Race
  • Employment status

Create a second sub-heading: “Topic questions” (in an automatically numbered list):

  • You need a minimum of 5 questions:
    • 4 closed questions,
      • of which only one is a Yes/No option, and
      • two of which must have at least 3, but preferably more options
    • 1 open question
  • You MUST include instructions (or an example):
    • “Tick as many boxes as is appropriate”
    • “Circle only one option”
    • “Rate 1 to 10, 1 being least interested and 10 being extremely interested”

Use symbols etc. for check-boxes.

Your check-boxes should be to the left of their labels like so:

▢ Yes

▢ No

This makes it far easier to align the option. If you have many options, try laying them out using columns:

▢ Option 1 ▢ Option 5
▢ Option 2 ▢ Option 6
▢ Option 3 ▢ Option 7
▢ Option 4  

Use Tab stops with Leader lines to provide a place for the respondent to write in response to open questions.

Closed Questions

A closed question is a question which:

  • Is almost always asked and answered by selecting a prescribed answer from some type of finite list (has a limited number of possible responses):
    • Check boxes
    • Radio buttons
    • Drop-down lists
    • Range selection
  • Can be answered directly with a fact

These are easier for respondents to answer and easier for you to capture and analyse – this results in more accurate data.

Open Question

An open question usually requires an opinion from a respondent. Your questionnaire must provide lines to indicate where the respondent should write their answer. You may add and instruction such as: “Describe in a short sentence…”.


You will find the Excel and Access sections of the PAT easier to complete if you pay close attention to the type of data you are collecting using your questionnaire.

This can be achieved by ensuring that most of your questions result in numerical data that can be analysed (closed questions make this easier).

Open questions are difficult (but NOT impossible) to analyse.


Each question must have a clear instruction:

  • Tick one option only
  • Select one or more options by entering an “X” in the box
  • Your age in numbers
  • Rate you knowledge on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “poor” and 10 being “excellent”.