A-level Sociology exams and revision: AQA explains what you need to do

Sociology concept image

Our series on exam advice continues with tips from AQA on A-level Sociology

To help you make the most of your remaining revision time, we’ve worked with exam board AQA to create a series of exam advice articles.

In each of these features, you’ll find advice and easy-to-follow tips written by one of AQA’s subject matter experts.

Read on to get the inside track on A-level Sociology, direct from the people who make the exams.


AQA logo byline
AQA logo byline

DO make sure you maximise your marks for the 4 and 6-mark questions

In each case there’s a +1 for clearly outlining your two or three reasons or ways or whatever you’re asked for in the question. 

So, after you’ve identified your reason or way, add in some additional detail using phrases like:

  • This means that…
  • An example of this is…
  • A study which illustrates this is...
  • Therefore...
  • A key concept here is…

And always link to the specific question. For example, for the question below, you need to clearly outline how the material factors you identify affect educational achievement.

Outline two material factors that may affect social class differences in educational achievement.

[4 marks]

DO make sure you know the differences between the two different types of 10-mark questions

For example, for the ‘outline and explain two...’ 10-mark questions, you don’t need to evaluate – just analyse.

For the ‘analyse two...’ 10-mark questions, the mark scheme makes reference to analysis/evaluation where relevant evaluation is creditworthy: i.e. evaluation which is clearly linked to the reason or way or whatever you’ve been asked for in the question.

DO make sure you use the Item, especially for the 10-mark ‘analyse two...’ questions

You need to look for two ‘hooks’ in the Item to hang your points on, and you do need to make explicit reference to the Item.

For the 20 and 30-mark questions, the Items also contain useful hooks that you can use to hang points on and develop points from. They’re there to help you, so read them, highlight them and use them. Examiners are looking for your skills of ‘application’ (AO2), so show them off!

DO make sure you time your responses appropriately

For example, 15 minutes for 10-mark questions, 30 minutes for 20-mark questions and 45 minutes for 30-mark questions. 

DON'T expect that you can pre-learn all the answers

You’ll need to use your AO2 skills, think on your feet and apply your knowledge from one area within the specification to another. This is especially so in the 10-mark ‘outline and explain two...’ questions. As our Report on the Exam for Paper 2 said, these questions will ask students ‘to bring together aspects of their sociological knowledge in a way they are unlikely to have done before.’

For example, this question asks you to bring together your knowledge of changing gender roles and also childhood in order to answer the question:

Outline and explain two ways in which changing gender roles within the family may have affected children’s experience of childhood.                                                                                   

[10 marks]

DON'T forget the importance of learning the theories, studies and research

Remember 44% of the weighting at A-level is for knowledge and understanding and all the extended writing questions expect this knowledge to be explained, applied, analysed and evaluated.

DON'T forget to develop and deploy your conceptual literacy at all times

Good use of concepts can demonstrate all three assessment objectives:

  • AO1: by using sociological concepts with accuracy and precision you can demonstrate good levels of knowledge and understanding.
  • AO2: by selecting and deploying concepts appropriately in response to a question you can demonstrate good application skills.
  • AO3: by explaining in depth a given concept you can demonstrate the ability to analyse.
  • AO3: by explaining the usefulness or otherwise of a concept you can demonstrate the ability to evaluate.

So meritocracy, self-fulfilling prophesy, social mobility, consensus, conflict, labelling, role models, parentocracy, patriarchy, valid, reliable, generalizable etc. Use them!


More A-level Sociology exam help

Quick links to A-level Sociology exam help
A-level AQA Sociology Paper 1,2,3 7192 22nd May, 4th and 12th June

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Good luck from AQA

AQA believes everyone has the potential to achieve, and we make sure our qualifications give all students the opportunity to show what they can do and progress to the next stage of their lives.

Our subject experts worked with The Student Room so we can reach as many students as possible with advice on how to approach your revision and exams. We wish you well in the weeks ahead, and don’t forget to look after yourselves too: eat well, sleep well and tell someone how you’re feeling if there are days when things don’t go so well or you don’t feel so good.

 Good luck!