How to Improve your Essay Technique: A-Level DCT Mock Exam

My A2 students have completed their first mock exam under timed conditions. Usually when I set essays for homework students can use their notes and do not complete under time restraints. This is because I want students to develop the right essay writing technique before making things more difficult. However a college wide mock exam meant my students had to finally bite the bullet and complete their first exam paper (questions written by me since there are no previous questions to go on).

  • Task: Answer two from four questions
  • Topics: A2 DCT Pluralism and Gender
  • Time: 40 minutes per question
  • Expectation: Focus on answering the specific question and evaluate everything
  • Help: Students were allowed to use their DCT revision pack notes to support them (Just click on Revision Pack if you would like your own copy of the 55 page pack for a small price)

So what where the questions:

  1. To what extent does an exclusivist view point represent the true Christian message?
  2. Evaluate the view that Christians should have a mission to those of no faith.
  3. To what extent has secular views on gender equality undermined Christian gender roles?
  4. Critically assess the view the Christianity is inherently sexist.

The marking process:

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Gender and Society: Student’s Work

The question was:

“Should official Christian teachings resist current secular views on gender” discuss

Students were given this question as homework. There were no time constraints and students were allowed to use their class notes to help. I believe that students need to first of all develop their technique before removing support (notes) and adding extra pressure of time conditions.

They are currently doing their first mock exam of the year (November 27th) under timed conditions, so have had three months of practicing their essay writing technique first. The students are allowed to use their revision packs for support. By March next year students will do a full exam with no notes and under timed conditions, so this is what we are working towards. If students don’t have the technique, removing notes and adding time pressure will not support them in  improving their writing only aggravate the writing process.

These are three introductions for the essay (my comments can be seen at the end as footnotes):

intro GS.JPG

Examples of main paragraphs:

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Dr. Sentamu does Scarborough

IMG_8073_Scarborough_Sixth_Form_College_Scarborough_Deanery_Mission_LAWe were very lucky at Scarborough Sixth Form College to have a visit a few weeks ago from the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu. Whilst on his tour of the local area, visiting places such as St Catherine’s hospice, a selection of local schools and of course sampling the famous fish and chips, he stopped by to answer some pressing questions from my students. Here is a summary of some of his most notable quotes that could be used in an exam, as all questions were linked to parts of the spec:

Salvation/ Death and Afterlife:

  • “Nobody is outside the love of God”
  • “Hell is the description of unimaginable emptiness”
  • “I have studied many religions, Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism and Islam and yet I chose Christianity as my path. Salvation is a gift from God that is not attainable through good behaviour. Hell is a place where God is absent, when we are separated from God, the results are pretty dire.”
  • “Salvation is a gift, you don’t earn it. You either receive it or reject it”
  • “Salvation is now not in future” (similar to Gutierrez ‘Kingdom of God’ in Liberation Theology)

Christianity in a Multi-Faith Society:

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Liberation Theology and Marx: A2 DCT


Preview of Lesson Plans:

Research task (sheets in booklet)

  1. Watch: and fill in the fact file on Marx
  2. Answer the questions on Marxism (found on the worksheet)

PP: Slide one: Using your research – how would a Marxist explain the meaning of this image?

PP slides: 3-7 covering what Liberation Theology is, where is began and what it promotes and then how it links to Marxism and capitalism.

Worksheet: Using the quotes from Marx answer the questions – using phones if necessary to find meaning of any words unsure of.

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Challenge of Secularism: A2 DCT

Preview of Lesson Plans:

  • Discussion question: Do you think Britain is secular? Yes/no – share as a class (note: students interpret this Q to mean less Christian so use as a way to explain the difference between decline in Christianity vs meaning of secular)
  • PP: slides 2-3 (use the pp slides to structure the next few activities/ discussion points)
  • What does Feuerbach’s quote mean?feuerbach.png
  • Answer: Why do people need religion? Discuss varies answers as a class
  • Activity: Create a fact file on Freud explaining his views on why religion is seen as wish fulfilment, a delusion and unhealthy

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First Year Exam Paper Breakdown: DCT Death and Afterlife Question

Here’s a break down of a student’s answer for the question on Death and Afterlife from the new spec exams 2016 (first years).

Critically assess the view that in Christian Teaching all people will be saved (30)

OCR marks given for student’s answer:
A01 15/15
A02 15/15

These are the main paragraphs of the student’s exam answer:

DCT 1 u.jpg

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