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Developing AQA A Level Business Exam Skills – Models and Theories

Graham Prior

6th March 2017

As we start to approach the ‘business end’ of the new AQA A Level Business, many teachers will be turning their attention to ways in which they can help students develop their exam skills.

A useful activity would be to perhaps spend a lesson, looking at how models and theories can be used to support analysis and evaluation in exam answers, perhaps by looking at different topics/ question types and seeing how these topics can be supported by relevant models and theories.

The new AQA A Level Business specification has lots and lots of models and theories, and these models and theories can be used in answers to sharpen analysis and provide more focused evaluation.

Let’s look at an example to get the ball rolling; mergers and takeovers.

Mergers and takeovers is an examiners favourite and students tend to find questions on mergers and takeovers very accessible. However, better students tend to support their answers with the use of relevant models and theories.

So, what models and theories could students use when answering questions on mergers and takeovers? There are lots and lots, some obvious, some not so, for example, economies of scale is an obvious one, and one which many students bring into their answers.

However, students could also use Hofstede, especially if the merger / takeover involves businesses from different countries. This could be used to support a line of analysis on why a merger might fail due to a difference in culture.

Kotter and Schlesinger could also be used, in relation to potential resistance to change and how this might affect the success of a merger/ takeover not to mention Greiner and issues with managing growth.

From the example above we can see that there is a range of models and theories that students could use to support their lines of analysis and evaluation.

A few more to explore with students could be:

The value of ratios and financial data when assessing financial performance could be balanced using Kaplan and Norton and/ or Elkington’s Triple Bottom Line.

An evaluative question on the merits of overseas expansion could be supported by Ansoff and/ or Bartlett and Ghoshal.

Getting students to think about which models and theories they could use to support their answers, perhaps via a lesson along the lines of model mapping would be, in my opinion, time well spent.

Graham Prior

Graham is an experienced teacher, examiner, moderator and lover of education with a passion for teaching and learning.

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