Panic “My Exam is Tomorrow!” Must Read for New Spec Christian Thought

I am in the dark with everyone else when it comes to giving last minute tips for the Christianhqdefault Thought topics. Unlike Philosophy and Ethics, which have altered slightly, they are still very similar to the legacy A2 questions, therefore have a level of predictability as far as technique and last minute tips (see: Must Read for New Spec Philosophy and Must Read for New Spec Ethics to help).

So my last minute words of advice for Christian Thought were simply three things:

  1. Use the words in the question throughout your answer
  2. Add critical words with ‘because’ throughout to emphasize evaluation
  3. Add as many glossary/ key words as possible and link back to the question.

Good Luck

This might help last minute revision.

DCT pack

Panic “My Exam is Tomorrow!” Must Read for New Spec Ethics

There are roughly three types of ethics questions (see: “What would Aquinas say about Euthanasia?” Tackling the Application Essays for a more detailed breakdown) and three questions on your paper – I think the exam is going to look like:

  1. Specific topic – application open (Natural Law is useful when dealing with moral decisions)
  2. Specific topic with specific application (Kantian ethics is helpful when dealing with issues surrounding business ethics)
  3. Application (The religious concept of sanctity of life is outdated)

(These are only examples of style of questions not predictions)

Note: OCR might be really nice again (like in the Philosophy which I think was very fair) and ask questions such as: “Natural Law has no strengths” or “Evaluate Kant’s focus on duty” but I always like to prepare for a few curve balls.

So don’t forget:

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Predictions for A2 Ethics

I am not a gambling sort 714583-exam-1401318461-908-640x480of person but I would bet money that you will be asked two application questions. But what about the other two questions? Well, as with my previous predications, all I have to go on is the patterns, links to the specifications and gut instinct (call it my ‘intuition’ if you like).

Meta Ethics: even though this came up last year I still think there is a possibility of it re- appearing (as it makes more appearances than not in the exams). At the end of the day it is not a popular topic therefore it often rears its head repeatedly. If so, my predications are either: Ethical Naturalism specifically or a question worded with Non Cognitive e.g ‘A non cognitive approach is the only way to understand ethical language’ (as emotivism not asked since 2011 and prescriptivism since 2012).

VE: I do not think virtue will come up as a specific question this year but it is worth revising as you might be able to use it in an application answer. If a question on virtue does come up, the only areas never to be asked a question on are specific areas e.g. ‘Evaluate the agent centred approach of Virtue Ethics’ or ‘Critically assess the main principles of virtue ethics’ or ‘The concepts of eudaimonia are flawed.’ However as a specific question came up last year on Golden Mean, I do not see it happening twice but don’t forget this is the last exam to have VE on it (removed from new spec) so might have one last appearance!

Conscience: Very likely! There are a lot of gaps when it comes to conscience questions. There has never been a question on (going back as far as 2007 anyway): Conscience as God given or conscience as instilled by society, parents and authority figures or views of Augustine, Aquinas, Newman, Freud, Fromm or Piaget. Gosh that is a lot of potential questions! My sneaking suspicion is going to be an open question that warrants a number of these areas in one go e.g. ‘Critically assess the view that conscience is instilled by society, parents and authority figures’ or ‘ Believing that conscience is God given is flawed.’

Freewill and Determinism: Possibility but it is unlikely you will get a conscience and FW together on the same paper (but it did happen in 2014 and neither have been on since then). If this topic does come up I think it will be a hard determinism question angled at Theological Approaches such as ‘Theological determinism is more convincing than religious ideas of Freewill.’ You might also get a question on Darrow, Honderich, Hume or Locke (I doubt it though, these seem very specific and just too mean!) Genetic determinism has also not been on in the past.

Sex and Relationships: Contraception is the only area never to be specifically asked. All ethical theories have been mentioned in some way. My conclusion a general question on contraction e.g. “To what extent are ethical theories helpful when considering the issues surrounding contraception.”

Environment and Business: This is a popular area for questions and does come up in the exam quite often. Pretty much everything has been covered in environment other than a question specifically worded on ‘environment, resources and species’ but I doubt this will come up this year. My money is on Globalization which has never been asked and Utilitarianism is the only ethical approach not specified. So I would not be surprised with a ‘Utilitarianism is the best approach to business and globalization.’

So my predications based on previous gaps are (my money is on the parts in bold):

  1. Conscience (aimed at Freud, Fromm and Piaget or God given)
  2. Contraception
  3. FW (theological determinism or genetics)
  4. Utilitarianism and Globalisation.
  5. Meta ethics (ethical naturalism or non cog)

(Note: If the exam board are nice you will get a question on conscience and FW if not it will be one of these areas with Meta)

Check out: Consulting the Crystal Ball: Predicting your A2 Ethics Questions to help understand what different questions are looking for. Also “What would Aquinas say about the Environment? Who knows!” Tackling the Application Essays and “Sssshhh we can’t talk about Sex!” Pointers to discuss in A2 Application Questions for application question support.

Please feel free to add your own comments and predications 🙂

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:

rev pack  rev ethic

Any students sitting the A2 exams(Philosophy or Ethics) I could not recommend these workbooks enough! Fantastic revision tool to test your knowledge and to prepare you for your exam.

OCR A2 Religious Studies Unit G581 Workbook: Philosophy of Religion

OCR A2 Religious Studies Unit G582 Workbook: Religious Ethics

New Spec Reflections: What’s the Verdict?

I have never hidden the fact that I am loyal to OCR, teaching nearly a thousand students over eight years. But entering my ninth year with a looming new spec, I spent many weeks weighing up the pros and cons of remaining with OCR. My decision: Better the devil you know! (See: Out with the Old and in with the New: OCR Spec Changes) Was this the right decision though?

Interestingly I started writing this post about five weeks ago, with the first round of new spec exams dauntingly close but still two topics to cover in class. So I waited. Not because I didn’t have the time (because whoever has any of that!) but because I wanted to see the exam questions. Were OCR going to let me down at the last hurdle, setting ridiculously hard questions and be the straw that finally breaks the camel’s back of a grueling year? Or were they going to be fair and manageable to those students who had put in the work and revision? At that stage I just had no clue – my crystal ball of predictions was on the blink and I just prayed for the best outcome.

So writing now, the day after the first Philosophy exam, I am relieved by the exam questions which seem fair. Questions 1 & 2 were worded short and simple (not the usefully long winded wording of OCR – as seen in Q3), also 1 and 2 were left pretty open with no one philosopher specified. This means, in my opinion, that anything relevant to the question will be awarded marks. So I am content with the questions so far but is this blissful ignorance as we approach the second round: new spec ethics? We will see in a week!

So my overall reflections of the year…

Continue reading “New Spec Reflections: What’s the Verdict?”

Panic “My Exam is Tomorrow!” Must Read for New Spec Philosophy

This morning was my last lesson with my students before the first external exam. What was my lesson plan? Hammer out as many points for the philosophy exam as possible. What was the result? Well put it this way I think I must have sweated off a stone! Here is a summary of what I can see as the final pointers to remember for the exam tomorrow:

Evaluation panic you can always use:

  • God of Gaps: Having a gap in knowledge and filling it with God. This could even be used more creatively with Plato and Aristotle e.g. what sustains the four causes (potential to actual) = Prime Mover. Prime Mover is used to fill a gap in knowledge
  • Leap of Logic: Drawing conclusions with limited or no logic/ evidence
  • Reductio ad Absurdum: reducing logical statements to illogical conclusions (e.g. design in world = God designer)
  • Burden of Proof: whoever is making the claim must back up with proof. So does Plato provide enough proof for WOF – yes/ no discuss in answer
  • Ockham’s razor: go with the simplest solution E.g. St Theresa had a vision or was it just caused by malaria? What is the simplest solution?


  • You must use critical words throughout your answer to emphasize your evaluation (see to help: “But how can I tell the difference between description and evaluation?”). If you don’t use critical words you are only stating perspectives not evaluating them. And you cannot ‘name dump’ e.g. “Stephen Fry questions how can God exist when he allows children to die of cancer. This is a convincing argument.” This is not evaluation! You must use the special word of ‘because’.
  • I recommend that my students do not use ‘I think’ as it does not read academically. Instead channel your views/arguments but use other language such as ‘one might argue’
  • Don’t forget you get a lot of marks for evaluation (around 14 marks). Have you put 14 different evaluative points in your essay using critical words with ‘because’? Have you defended against the criticism and then weighed up whether the original criticism or defence is stronger?


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Predictions for A2 Philosophy

Predicting questions on an exam roulette-wheelpaper is a risky business because it is about as predictable as a roulette wheel. So what I have written below is not a science and it will not be enough to just learn these areas. If you do you will be caught out. All I can do I emphasize the gaps that have appeared over the years.

RE: One of the most popular topics for exam questions. Everything in the specification has been covered over the years but…Voices. Therefore a previous question/ area may re-appear or a question specifically on voices such as ‘Voices are the most effective way of God revealing Himself directly to a believer’. (Note: A question on ‘corporate’ has not been on since 2012 and ‘William James’ since 2013)

Miracles: Pretty sure this will come up in some way:

  1. Critically assess the different definitions of miracles
  2. Evaluate the concept of miracles
  3. Critically assess the criticisms of miracles made by Hume
    (or some close variation of these such as a question combining 2 and 3 e.g. Evaluate the concept of miracles and the criticisms presented by Hume)

Continue reading “Predictions for A2 Philosophy”