GCSE Sociology exams and revision: AQA explains what you need to do

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Our series on exam advice continues with tips from AQA on GCSE 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 GCSE Sociology, direct from the people who make the exams.

AQA logo byline
AQA logo byline


Do make sure you have a good knowledge and understanding of the 25 Key Studies outlined in the Appendix in the specification. Although you need to know about other theories and studies as well, you can be asked specific questions about these 25 Key Studies. The Items for some of the questions will also be about these studies so it really helps if you’re familiar with them.

Do make sure you have a good knowledge and understanding of the main theories: functionalism, Marxism, interactionism and feminism. These can be useful for the 12-mark mini-essays – comparing, for example, what functionalists argue about the issue in the question with what feminists argue.

Do make sure you can apply the main theories to the four main topic areas in the specification: Families, Education, Crime & Deviance and Social Stratification.

Do make sure you revise research methods carefully. Even though there’s no separate section of questions on research methods, you’ll be asked methods questions within the four main topic areas.


Don’t forget to develop a good working knowledge and understanding of the key terms and concepts listed in the specification. The first two questions for each topic will be multiple choice questions asking you to identify the correct concept. Get off to a good start and know your concepts!

Don’t forget to use as many of those concepts in your answers to both short answer and mini-essay questions. Concepts show you’re meeting all three assessment objectives. By using concepts, you’re showing your knowledge and understanding of Sociology. By using them in the right place to make a point, you’re showing your application skills and you can also use them to analyse and evaluate points you’re making.

Don’t forget to present at least a couple of different points in relation to the question for the 15-mark mini-essays.

For example… Discuss how far sociologists would agree that gender differences in educational achievement are mainly due to factors inside schools. [12 marks]

You’ll need to look at factors inside school like teacher expectations and peer pressure as well as factors outside school such as parental encouragement and household income.

Don’t forget to write a conclusion for your mini-essays. The mark scheme for the top band mentions ‘evidence-based conclusions.’ You can conclude as you go along – for example, at the end of each paragraph, ask yourself what the evidence shows in relation to the question. You can also ask this question at the end as well when you’ve presented all your evidence - and write a clear summary of what the evidence shows in relation to the question.

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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!