Exam Support

Second Year Sociology Students: Listen Up! (2)

Sarah Best

26th September 2017

In the second of a series of posts aimed at Year 2 Sociology students, recent A Level Sociology 'graduate' Ewan Somerville delves into the murky world of exam boards.

Exam boards are your asset

You're in a much better position than myself and my peers were. As the first cohort going through AQA's reformed A Level Sociology specification, I couldn't help but feel I was a guinea pig. I had two specimen papers - that was it. I had one (AS) examiners report to read. Of course I had, and used, the resources from the old specification dating back to the early noughties, but it's not the same as having current resources. 

Thankfully, my teacher was amazing and she was an examiner for this specification herself, but all of us were being kept in the dark to a some degree by the exam board. 

What about your situation?

  • As an A2 student right now, you will have at least three A2 specimen papers, two AS papers, as well as an actual A Level Sociology paper, with mark schemes. Not only that, you have a much more detailed and comprehensive (A2) examiners report than I had, as well as two AS examiners reports. Use them
  • Current students should also be trawling the online webpages of the old AQA Sociology specification and reading the exam reports - they are the greatest asset you will have
  • Although the exam papers themselves from the old specification have a different question structure, I took each one and edited them all on a word document into the current format of questions. In so doing, not only are you creating more practice questions for yourself, but also getting to know your exam papers inside out, meaning there can be no surprises on exam day
  • Make links all the time between the four different modules you are sitting, including Theory and Methods; this way you are developing your synoptic skills, which form a key part of the new specification
  • Create your own mark schemes for the sample exam questions provided in textbooks; this way you are getting to know the very resource that the examiner will be using to mark your actual paper in the summer!

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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