Consulting the Crystal Ball: Predicting your AS Ethics Questions (old spec)

New Spec Predictions: PhilosophyEthics and DCT

There are a few ways to ‘predict’ exam questions within R.S.a-spooky-photograph-of-a-crystal-ball-and-a-woman-s-hands

  1. Look at the past questions asked over the years (this gives you patterns, similar wordings and ultimately there are only so many questions the examiners can ask).
  2. Examine the specification closely (this is what your teacher will teach you from – the checklist). You must know every bullet point as examiners often just add the words ‘explain’ or  ‘compare’ in front.


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If you do not have access to either of these go to the exam board website. So in this case go to OCR: for all mark schemes, past questions, examiners comments and specification.

Finally for some topics there is a certain style of question for part a)’s. This is certainly the case with the application topics: abortion, euthanasia, genetic engineering and war and peace.

  1. Specific to topic: ‘Explain the Precepts of Natural Law’, ‘Explain the key principles of Kantian Ethics’ (see The Five Paragraph Rule)
  2. Specific to application: ‘Explain the moral issues surrounding Euthanasia’. (I advise with this question picking one-two topics and exploring their approach to the different issues surrounding euthanasia: SOL, Personhood and Quality of Life etc.)
  3. Specific to both the topic and application issue: ‘Explain how a follower of Kantian ethics might approach issues surrounding the right to a child’. (Using Kantian ethics as the structure of the paragraphs –  – link each point specifically to right to a child. The ‘issues’ include IVF etc.)
  4. Specific to topic and general application: ‘Explain how a follower of Natural Law might approach the issues surrounding abortion’. (I advise that as no specific issue has been identified to select two – three issues with abortion e.g. SOL, personhood, right to a child etc. and keeping Natural Law as the structure of paragraphs, link each theme to an issue) 

When a question asks you to identify the ‘issues’, ‘dilemmas’ or ‘problems’ with an ethical application topic, please see “What does that mean?” Understanding AS Ethics Questions for further guidance.

So whilst there could be potentially a hundred variations of question, you can pretty much predict the style of questions and thus areas to revise i.e. know what Natural Law says about different abortion issues or different topics approach to Genetic Engineering.



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