tutor2u | Second Year Sociology Students: Listen Up! (1)

Exam technique advice

Second Year Sociology Students: Listen Up! (1)

Sarah Best

19th September 2017

In another exciting new development for the Sociology Daily Digest, we have a fresh set of articles aimed at students currently studying for A-Level Sociology, particularly those who have just started in Year 2.

These have been written by a recent A-Level Sociology 'graduate' Ewan Somerville who achieved an A* in the subject this summer and has now headed off to university. And for the next few weeks we will be publishing some of Ewan's top tips for success in sociology. However, Ewan's journey throughout his studies in sociology was far from plain sailing...

I can remember feeling lost this time last year going into my second year of A Levels. I was part of the first cohort to study the new AQA A Level Sociology specification (7191/7192) and had underachieved at AS. Despite working very hard, thinking I was on track for my target grade of an A, I came out of the AS exams in the summer of 2016 (not that they counted for anything) with a B. Fast forward to the summer of 2017 and I have a high A* in A Level Sociology. How did I do it, and more importantly what can those Year 13 sociology students out there be putting into place right now? 

Don't get complacent

With the reformed A Level Sociology course, everything comes down to the exams at the end of the second year. Many centres have thus decided; whether out of convenience or financial necessity, to no longer enter students for AS exams because they don't count for anything. This is a mistake in my view, as I was lucky enough that my college entered my whole cohort for these AS exams anyway and they proved to be the making of my A*. Why? For me and many other students, the AS grade was essential to gauge where I was with my progress and receive feedback from the real examiners; for me in particular it was a wake up call. I couldn't have worked any harder at AS, but the grade showed that my study methods were not yet advanced enough for A Level. Thus, I made many changes going into my second year, and this was the making of the A* grade. If you're going into your second year and have not had the opportunity to take AS exams for sociology, here's what you could do:

1. Ask your teachers to let you sit the 2017 AS exam paper in exam conditions and if they could mark it (don't cheat yourself by looking at the mark scheme - be honest and find out where you're at)

2. Treat the Christmas/January mock exams as the real thing - I can't emphasise this enough

3. From the word go this September, stay behind after class for a few minutes or email your teacher about exam technique and go above and beyond by doing as many exam questions at home as possible, and ask your teacher to mark them or mark them yourself

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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