Exam technique advice

Second Year A Level Sociology Students: Listen Up! (4)

Sarah Best

10th October 2017

In the fourth of series of posts aimed at Year 2 A Level Sociology students, Ewan Somerville examines the importance of passion and resilience during your studies.

  • Be passionate, be argumentative

 There's nothing better than looking forward to your sociology lessons; they end up being so much more productive if you actually enjoy them. This was the case for me because in the second year most of us in my class all opened up and were confident enough to debate with each other and our teacher across the classroom; be inquisitive, don't be afraid to challenge things and debate different viewpoints in class.

I can remember a moment in my class earlier this year when my teacher was explaining where the 'Third Way', introduced in Britain by Tony Blair during the New Labour years, sat theoretically. She was saying how it was a move away from the New Right with a more socially liberal approach to policymaking, a 'social democratic' approach. I interjected and contested that fundamentally not much changed from the Thatcher/Major years with the 'hand up not a hand out' approach to welfare, the emboldening of corporations in wielding massive economic power etc. She rolled her eyes. The class laughed. Another student disputed my point. We had a debate; this is the joy of sociology. 

  • Be prepared for knock backs

I worked very closely with my teacher in developing my exam technique, and she took apart every answer I did. It was several months before the exam itself and I was getting 21 marks on a 30 mark question, and 11 marks on a 20 mark question. I got a low A in my sociology mock exam in January. At points I could have quite easily given up hope of doing well in the exam itself. But no, I took all the constructive criticism and carried on churning out exam questions, putting into practice the extensive feedback my teacher was giving me. Gradually, my technique improved and of course this perseverance paid off on results day.

  • So to round up...

Don't be disheartened if you don't always get the grade you hoped for: keep at it and believe in yourself... This way you can make great progress and come out of the exams in the summer of 2018 in the top 4.9% of students in the country; I did it, so why can't you?

Sarah Best

Sarah is a passionate full-time Head of Sociology and Psychology and has worked in a variety in schools in the UK, and she is currently working in a British international school. She is keen to develop and boost the profile of both subjects.

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