The AS and A Level Exams
There are two 90 minute papers at the end of the AS year, and three two hour papers at the end of the A Level Year. Remember that if you do the AS qualification, your grades don’t count towards the A level, you are reassessed in a slightly different format on all of the first year material, along with all of the second year material as part of the A level exams at the end of the two years of study.
Exam Papers for AS and A Level Sociology – this link just takes you to the AQA web site’s assessment page – you should definitely check out the exam papers, and practice them!
AQA A Level Sociology – The Three Exam Papers
AQA Paper 1 – Education with Theory and Methods – hints and tips for answering the six questions on this 2 hour exam paper.
AQA Paper 2 – Topics in Sociology – hints and tips for answering the 6 (optional) questions on this two hour exam paper
How I would’ve answered the families and households section of A level sociology paper 2 (AQA, 2017)
AQA Paper 3 – Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods –
You might find my cheesy exam guide for the AS sociology exam useful….
Assessment Objectives in AS and A Level Sociology – It’s useful to know how the marks are distributed in the exam – there are complex question by question breakdowns on the specification, but to simplify it – Knowledge and Understanding (of concepts, theories, research) is worth about 50% of the marks in the exam, the other 50% are for Application, Analysis and Evaluation.
Essays and Essay Plans
This will gradually be populated with more and more essays, please check back for more!
Assess the Marxist View of the Role of Education in Society (20)
Evaluate the view that differences in educational achievement between social groups are the result of factors and processes within schools (30)
Assess the extent to which it is home based factors, rather than in-school factors which explain social class differences in educational achievement (20)
Research Methods in Context – essay template (20)
Assess the Strengths of Using Participant Observation in Social Research (16)
Evaluate the view that the main aim of the family is to meet the needs of capitalism (20)
Assess the reasons for the long term increase in the divorce rate (20)
Evaluate the Contribution of Consensus Theory to Our Understanding of Crime and Deviance (30)
Assess sociological perspectives on prison as a form of punishment (30)
An essay typically consists of a number of paragraphs, and the general paragraph structure in a sociology essay is to make a point, explain it, expand on it, and then analyse/ evaluate it. The points you make will obviously depend on the question you’re being asked, and you’re generally looking to make from 3-5 points in each essay. At least one of these, ideally two should go into some depth, and the paragraphs below have been written to show you how deep you could go into analysing and evaluating just one point within an essay.
An Evaluation of Zero Tolerance Policing – This is an overkill paragraph demonstrating different aspects of ZTP with 6 evaluation points. You might discuss ZTP in response to a question about Realism in general, right realism specifically, policies of crime control, or the role of the police in reducing crime.
10 Mark Questions
Outline and explain two ways in which changes to gender roles have affected diversity of family structures (10)
Outline and analyse two reasons for the formation of subcultures (10)
Outline and analyse some of the ways crime has changed in postmodern society (10)
A Suggested Revision Strategy for A Level Sociology
As I see it – Revision Should be done in Three Stages
Stage One – Planning and Preparation – START FEB HALF TERM (or earlier)
Stage Two – Doing and Learning Summary Revision Notes – Start in Easter Vacation
Stage Three – Reviewing and Hench Exam Practice – Starts Mid-April
Of course there’s no reason why you can’t mix it up and/ or get ahead – these are just suggestions. The more the merrier when it comes to revision. NB don’t forget to eat and sleep.
- Planning/ Preparation for revision
- Know What you Need to know – Keep in mind the main topics and sub topics (know what you need to know) – Ideally stick an A3 copy of the course structure on your wall – keep referring back to it
- Know how you are assessed – Stick an A3 copy of the two exam papers on the wall – keep referring back to them
- Do an overview of a revision timetable – allow enough time to cover every topic at least three times (not including the last week of the exam when you should be constantly reviewing everything)
- Make your own detailed revision notes and memorise them
Construct Summary Revision Notesfor each Sub-Topic write 1-2 pages of revision notes covering the following:
- Intro Blurb – roughly what is it about?
- 3-5 Key points about the sub-topic
- Overall evaluation points – NB these will overlap with other sub-topics!)
- Key concepts/ evidence/ sociologists highlighted
- Exam practice
- Test yourself on short answer questions
- Plan essays using the ‘Intro – PEEC*4 – Overall Evaluations – Conclusion’ structure
- Write essays under timed conditions
- Also look at actual exam papers which will ask you questions which cover two or more topics.
You will find a 20 mark question on both AS papers and on paper 2 of the A Level papers. This section does not deal with Theory and Methods questions or the methods in context questions which are also worth 20 marks.
- Paper 1: Education
- Paper 2: Families and Households
A Level Papers
- Paper 2: Topics in Sociology, one question for each of the 2 topics studied.
20 mark questions are essay style questions and should be answered in continuous prose and paragraphs. You should take around 25 – 30 minutes to answer these questions and contain between 4 and 5 paragraphs as well as an introduction and conclusion.
30 Mark Questions only appear on the A Level papers for both Education and Crime and Deviance.
30 Mark questions are to be approached in the same way as the 20 markers, however, you ware expected to show a deeper level of knowledge and understanding (4-5 points), analysis and evaluation.
The introduction should give an overview to the examiner of what it is you are going to write about in the essay. It is also there to show the examiner that you understand the question and what it is asking you to do.
The introduction should contain three elements:
Context: This is the background information on the question and the explanation of key terms. It shows the examiner that you have a wider knowledge of the topic.
Content: In this part of the introduction you show the examiner that you have interpreted the question correctly by explaining the key points that you are going to cover in the essay.
The line of Argument: This is your answer to the question. There are two ways that you can answer the question and it depends on the wording of the question as to which you would use:
Evaluate the reasons for…. = Relative importance of the reasons/factors/explanations so your answer would be which one is the most important.
Evaluate the usefulness/view… = This is a yes or no question. Is the theory useful or not? Do you agree with the view or not?
Your introduction should be about 4 or 5 sentences.
The main body of the essay should be around 4 or 5 paragraphs in length, meaning that there should be 4 or 5 points that come from both the item that you have been given as well as your own knowledge.
Each paragraph should follow the PEAE structure:
Point: The first sentence of your paragraph should use the terms of the question to show the examiner that you are focused on the question set and answer the question.
Explain / Apply: I have put these two together as they often intertwine. Explain means that you have to explain why the point you make answers the question, the application element is the use of the item, studies, and thinkers to illustrate your point.
Evaluation: The evaluation section of the paragraph is the where you show your understanding of the opposing argument to your answer or explain why the factor is the most important or not. The evaluation should directly link to the point that you are making at the start of your paragraph.
The conclusion should be about 4 or 5 sentences long and needs to answer the question directly, however, it should still remain in the third person and should not introduce any new information.
Question Breakdown Sheet
This sheet can be given to help students to break down the question so that they fully understand what they are being asked to do without writing the whole essay.