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The new AQA specification for AS and A-level has added an AO although the skills required remain very similar.
AO1: Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of: sociological theories, concepts and evidence, sociological research methods.
AO2: Apply sociological theories, concepts, evidence and research methods to a range of issues.
AO3: Analyse and evaluate sociological theories, concepts, evidence and research methods in order to:
• present arguments
• make judgements
• draw conclusions.
The splitting up of the chunk that was AO2 into AO2 and AO3 should help students to better understand what is required. The old ‘assess’ questions no longer exist (in sample paper 1 and 2 anyway) however they have been replaced with ‘evaluate the view’ and ‘analyse reasons’ that can still follow the structure suggested. However I would suggest more emphasis be given to the description, strengths and limitations in an ‘evaluate’ question, and emphasis given to the description, links/application and compare and contrast in the ‘analyse question’. The AO’s are also more explicit in their requirement of research methods content and application, this will need to be embedded within the teaching.
Essay structure new AQA spec (2016)
Dogs – describe (A01)
Sometimes – strengths (evaluation A03)
Walk – weaknesses (evaluation A03)
Looking – links to a theory/ sociologist/ evidence/method (application A02)
Cross – comparison with other sociological material (analysis A03)
By getting students to follow this structure, or at least ensure they include evidence of it in their essays, even if not in that exact order you maximise their chances of hitting the AO’s and gaining valuable marks. As a heavy essay writing subject sociology students often struggle for time in their exams, this structure means that if they begin to run out, they will know what they simply must include even if only alluded to very briefly.
This structure also has the additional benefit of making written feedback easier, as missing sections can be identified and students encouraged to work on them. Lessons can then be tailored to address specific issues. For example I find the compare and contrast section always warrants some additional guidance for example and lends itself well to an activity based lesson.
As the application to the new specification has demonstrated, this essay structure is flexible and may indeed be transferable to other exam boards and qualifications.
Hope this helps you out! If you want more information, the link to the website where I got this from is:
Hey guys is anyone doing AQA A level Sociology. I'm not struggling with the content but just would like some tips on essay structure. my first assessment I got a C, just 1 mark away from a B grade. Just want to know how to be in the top grade mark when structuring essays.