A Levels: Maths, History, Philosophy and Politics Watch
History was by far my hardest A-Level however, by the end of the 2 years, you should still be able to get an A. I just found the jump quite big and the amount of work required is unbelievable.
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Philosophy - Was my hardest A level by far, not in terms of the content really that was fairly easy to understand, but the essay writing was a pain. Memorising the essays took a while and it's just constant writing in the exam. I managed to get a B overall in that at AS, I did fine in one exam but messed up the other. A tip for that is to just memorise all essays in detail and practice writing fast
Politics - I found it okay overall; wasn't really difficult for me (although everyone finds each A level different). AS wasn't bad, I got an A, but it gets a lot harder at A2 but at the same time more interesting. My main tip is to just keep on top of the news I guess because you get marks for contemporary examples (which is lucky since there's so much going on in politics right now )
Maths will be difficult to get an A if you don't get an A* IMO at GCSE, only those with an A* or high A IMO have 'mastered' the concepts which are built on at A-level. Also there's an applied module, mechanics or stats usually, which you may find hard. However if you work hard, whatever grade you get at GCSE will be irrelevant!
History is hard, no doubt about it. You need to know a lot and be able to write a lot about a little. Source questions become much much harder at A-level. You also get introduced to 'interpretations' where you essentially compare ways history has been interpreted and give your judgement on them.
Politics is the easiest of the three generally, however there is again a lot of content to know and understand. The timing of the exams is also very tricky. Remember GCSE english language and the ridiculous timing allowance of that? AS politics is worse, a lot worse. Unit 2 you have to read two long-ish sources, answer a 5 marker, 10, 25 and 40 marker in an hour and 20 minutes. It's hell and you can work at an A all year long and drop to a D in the real thing.
Content-wise; not so bad, I believe they've changed the ****ing specification AGAIN (only 2 years after the first change) and they're removing a really supposedly 'difficult' (it's not difficult I just think people are stupid but hey) section from it. I also believe they're going to swap religion and ethics meaning you do ethics year 1 religion year 2... not sure if that's gonna be in place when you go or not.
But yeah content is fine, religion has a lot of arguments and criticisms to remember but out of German, Sociology and Philosophy, Philosophy had the least for me to remember.
NOW the tricky part
Exam-wise; you will literally want to die. Essays are incredibly hard in philosophy and marked very strictly compared to many other essay-based subjects barring History and English Lit. - yes, even my foreign language essays are easier. You need to be able to construct arguments well and apply your knowledge where necessary. You are marked down for too much repetition, redundancy, not being clear enough, missing out key stages in arguments, not having a strong conclusion, not linking back to the question, not having an introduction, not backing up using scholars etc. etc.
To give you an indication, at AS the highest mark essay for philosophy is 15 marks - the average mark people receive on that essay is 6 marks; that's 40%.
However it's not impossible to do well in it if you work your ass off - like I did When we did our mock exam I was the only one to achieve an A and by the end of the year I was averaging 14/15 marks on the essays - you just really, really have to pay attention to essay technique.
To make up for the difficulty grade boundaries are quite low - last year you could drop 23 marks on an 80 mark paper and still get an A... that's 71%; which is usually a B in most exams.
I know I've probably discouraged you but I don't want you to be naive about philosophy. It is not an easy subject to get an A in, but if you follow exam technique and practice and practice it is 100% doable.
If you're actually doing philosophy & ethics I'm given to believe it's a lot easier, but there's a **** load more content.