tutor2u | Q&A from AQA: Discuss & Evaluate

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Q&A from AQA: Discuss & Evaluate

Below you will find a question and response from AQA in relation to: Discuss & Evaluate.


  • Does the command term evaluate ALWAYS require strengths and limitations? If not, how would a student know when both are required?
  • Does the command term discuss ALWAYS require strengths and limitations? If not, how would a student know when both are required?


"The senior examiner for this specification has been back in touch with the following response to your queries:

Firstly, to answer your emboldened questions:

The command ‘Evaluate...’ would not always require both strengths and limitations.

The command ‘Discuss...’ would not necessarily require both strengths and limitations but it should be said that any useful discussion usually involves taking a point and looking at both sides of the argument. For example, if a student suggested that ‘The multi-store model of memory takes a oversimplified mechanistic view of a complex process’, they might go on to ‘discuss’ the point and present a counter-argument as follows: ‘However, by breaking down the process into a sequence of stages psychologists have been better able to study characteristics of the separate memory stores.’ This would seem to be a discussion. Thus, where the command is ‘discuss’ it probably quite likely that a good answer will include some counterargument and therefore there will be both positive and negative points.

In the case of the specimen question you cite, it seems that this example is an oversight. Certainly on live papers which have had thorough scrutiny, we would not require both strengths and weaknesses. Indeed, as you will appreciate, what we can expect to see as evaluation will depend very much on the material; sometimes there is scope for lots of negative critical points to be made, whilst in other cases, an evaluation would be likely to be much more positive.

We trust that this response gives you the clarity you require and apologise if information in the previous response was inadequate or misleading."

Psychology & Sociology Secret Examiner

The Secret Examiner is an experienced teacher and examiner for A-Level Psychology & Sociology


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