There is one look I am very familiar with on the approach to the exams: the panicked eyes of students that just want to know “what do you think the questions will be in the exam?” What I want to say is “How do I know???”…however to ease your panic there are a few ways to prepare yourself for the exam (don’t forget this is based on faith not science).
- Look at the past exam questions. PROBLEM…there has only been one round of exams for the new spec and nothing for the full A Level.
- Examine the specification closely (this is what your teacher will teach you from – the checklist). You must know every bullet point because examiners often just add the words ‘critically assess’ or ‘evaluate’ in front.
If you do not have access to either sample answers or specifications go to the exam board website. So in this case go to OCR:http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/as-a-level-gce/as-a-level-gce-religious-studies-h173-h573-from-2016/ for all mark schemes, sample questions, examiners comments and specification.
It is slightly easier this year as we have one round of questions and the examiner’s feedback (see: Examiner’s Report 2017: What can we learn?).
Last year’s question paper:
Now don’t get excited! This does not mean that Natural Law, Kant and Business won’t be on this year because you might have noticed that Q1 also wants students to link to euthanasia. So this means that over half the topic areas were asked in last year’s exam alone.
However what is clearly missing are:
- Utilitarianism – with either business and/ or comparison between Bentham and Mill
- Euthanasia on it’s own (like Q3 on last year’s paper) – maybe ‘Sanctity of life is outdated, the focus should be on quality of life’ Discuss
- Situation Ethics – on its own, linked with euthanasia or compared against NL. So something on the lines of ‘Agape is all that is needed to help deal with issues surrounding euthanasia.’
This is the mock paper I set for my students:
There are 9 possible topic areas, with at least 5 possible questions per topic not including the endless possibilities that the application questions pose. What this means is that predicating the questions is impossible. Questions like the ones I set above test a wide range of knowledge from the students, which is what the examiners want to do. If they ask very narrow or closed questions it will be more challenging to show off a spectrum of understanding.
So I am thinking:
- Meta Ethics- most likely cognitive vs non cognitive approach (so even if ‘Intuitionism is the only way to understand ethical language’ the easiest way to answer this is by comparing to another approach)
- Sex and Relationships – asking for a comparison between two first year ethics topics (e.g Kant vs Util or NL is the best approach opening up for comparisons)
- Business Ethics – either on its on (‘There are no ethics in business’) or linking with a specific topic. Alternatively the examiners might let you pick the topic/s with ‘no approach is useful when dealing with issues within business.’
- Conscience- Aquinas vs Freud
WARNING– You MUST revise everything! Yes maybe revise some areas really really well but you cannot ignore any topics.
Examiners try very hard to limit the predictability of their question papers. What this means is = I might be completely wrong (I do not often say that either!) So please do revise all areas and elements in order to guarantee your success.
See Panic “My Exam is Tomorrow!” Must Read for A Level Ethics for my last minute tips for the exam.
Essay writing support check out: Let’s Break it Down: Step by Step A2 Essay Structure to help with essay structure. Also Going for Gold: Achieving that A* and Are you arguing with me? to achieve that perfect essay technique.
If you would like a Revision Pack that contains quizzes, glossaries and past exam questions to help structure your revision, click on the image below (for a small charge):
To support your revision there are Revision Podcasts on YouTube. If you would like support with writing an Application essay also see my Tips from a Tired Teacher: