RMPS Higher: Skills and Answering TechniquesWatch this thread
The skills assessed are analysis and evaluation. Analysis is basically providing the details of beliefs and practices related to religion, morality and the philosophy of religion. It is showing the marker that you know how the whole thing works. So, for example, writing something like (in Buddhism)
Anicca means impermanence and is one of the Three Marks of Existence- doesn't really show the marker that you know how it works, how it fits in. All you are doing is stating some pretty basic facts. Instead, what you should be doing is something like this: Anicca means impermanence. This means impermance in everything. For example, everything in the universe as a whole is constantly changing. At a personal level it means that our physical bodies, pleasures and thoughts change all the time meaning there is nothing permanent within us.
See how I have gone on to expand on what is meant by impermanence? This is exactly the kind of thing that markers are looking for. You are showing that you know more than just the basic names and ideas.
For evaluation you have to make some kind of judgement about an issue in RMPS. What many people do is simply write down two sides of an argument. That is not evaluation. That is description, KU and not a lot else. What you have to do is judge the issue in some way, like this, for example:
The death penalty can be viewed as morally wrong because of the consequences which are that the state has to kill an individual and that an innocent person may have been executed. This can be criticised on the grounds that it reduces the state to the same level as the murderer and that the number of innocent people actually executed is very small. However, this criticism could be viewed as weak because the way a killer kills an INNOCENT victim, is morally different from the state carrying out an execution. Furthermore, the approach that it is ok because not many innocent people are killed is a challenge to an individual's human right to life and a fair trial because a trial withthe death penalty hanging over it is a far more serious thing than one with a life sentence hanging over it and the idea that one innocent death utlimately does not matter is something that would cause anyone supporting the right to life a lot of problems.
What is happening here is that I have stated a viewpoint, then criticised the viewpoint andthen put in a counter argument. This is one method of showing the marker that you know how the debate goes and how they attack each other, not just that you know two sides of the argument.
1. a quote
2. How far...
3. To what extent...
4. How challenging...
5. How beneficial (unlikely)...
Analysis will most like be along the lines of...
1. In what ways...
The analysis questions are usually quite straightforward, not easy, straightforward. They will often look for an in-depth explanation, implications or connections between beliefs and practices. This means that you should know three main things (a) the belief or practice (b) the impact of beliefs/practices (c) connections between different beliefs, different practices and different beliefs and practices. Make sure that you know the technical terms so you don't get them mixed up.
When you read the question you will immediately recognise certain technical terms in it. Let's say the question is "In what ways is kamma related to Nibbana." What can happen is that you look at the question and see the words KAMMA and NIBANNA screaming out at you- "write about me, write about me!". It is fine if you do that, you need to do that to answer the question. However, if that is all you do then you will get no more than 4/10 because you have not shown how they are related. The question is about how they are related not just about what they are. So, you need yo take a deep breath before you launch into the question. You need to say to yourself "Ok, the question is about kamma and Nibanna, but what is asking me ABOUT, kamma and Nibbana. It is asking me how kamma and Nibbana are connected, that's what it is doing." So, of course you need to write about them to show how they are connected but just under half of your essay has to be about how they are RELATED. Just under half, remember that; this means that the question is looking for more than a a comment tacked on at the end of the essay showing their connection/relationship. You probably need to write almost the same amount as you wrote for the descriptions of kamma and Nibbana, almost the same, remember, but if you write more than that is good.
What if you write about other beliefs not connected to the question? That can be risky. Of course, other beliefs/practices might be related to the two you are writing about but you risk making your essay irrelevant if you introduce other stuff. The question has asked you to focus on the two beliefs in the question and that is what you should stick to. If it wanted to ask about other beliefs then it would have been a different question. It might be that you are running out of stuff to say- yeah, well, maybe then it is worth the risk but it should not be your first plan of attack- ever.
What if it asks you to focus on one belief or practice? For example, "In what ways might following the teachings of Jesus affect Christians today?" This is line of questioning that will crop up from time to time because it is a focus in the course. You could, if you wanted, just list a whole load of different ways in which Jesus' teaching affect Christians. Very often what happens here is the answer appears to be full of short paragraphs. For this kind of question you can approach it in three ways:
1. A list of the effects with a brief explanation for each
2. An explanation of positive and negative effects
3. An explanation of different types of effect
If you know five effects and can write a paragraph on each then that is a positive. A problem with this approach is that it becomes a bit of a list and you risk losing a pile of marks for not developing any of the points you make.
The Positive and Negative
You group your effects under positive and negative. That is within the scope of the question but what can happen here is that the answer becomes more evaluation than analysis and it would lose marks for that even although what it written is good evaluation. You would need to take care to explain that the effects are grouped as positive and negative andthen to explain why you have grouped them in the way that you have.
This approach considers the different types of effect. Religious beliefs/practices tend to affect people psychologically, in their lifestyle and in their actions. What you would do here is group your effects under these headings (some will belong under more than one heading) so that you are saying, "the effects of following Jesus' teachings can be seen in the way it affects religious people mentally. For example...." What you do is use the heading as your statement and then your effects as examples to back up your analysis. The problem with this approach is that it doesn't always fit and it needs you to do different stuff from the usual benefits and drawbacks list that you work with in school.
All of the approaches are valid and can get you good marks but each has its risks. However, the biggest risk is in the initial reading of the question- that is where marks are won and lost.