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How hard is Religious Studies?

I'm planning take Religious Studies (OCR or Edexcel depending on what I like) as a private candidate, meaning I'll study at home on my own.

1) Is it possible to revise the A-Level content in one academic year ready for the exams in May 2023 if i grind it?

2) How hard is the subject itself?

PS - I'm also taking English Literature and Psychology as my second and third options, both that I have taken before and both essay subjects.

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Original post by McDonaldsEmploy
I'm planning take Religious Studies (OCR or Edexcel depending on what I like) as a private candidate, meaning I'll study at home on my own.

1) Is it possible to revise the A-Level content in one academic year ready for the exams in May 2023 if i grind it?

2) How hard is the subject itself?

PS - I'm also taking English Literature and Psychology as my second and third options, both that I have taken before and both essay subjects.


1) First of all, I am going to start by saying that anything is possible, but with 100% honesty I would advise against you doing this because a-levels are a whole different level from gcses , although you may be able to cram it all in one year if you don't do many hobbies or anything else, you will be so stressed and you may not do as well as a result and all the other students sitting the exams in 2023 will have had an extra year of practice , revision and consolidation ,therefor it is highly likely that they will perform better, because although you may have covered the same content ,the human brain just learns better when information and learning is spaced out and yours will not be as spaced out as theirs , though maybe with enough consideration you could potentially choose the a-level you find easiest to do in 2023 and then do the other 2 in 2024.
2) I am doing a biology, chemistry and english literature a-level, i am not doing a psycology or RS a-elevel so i cant help u there, in regard to English literature it all boils down to writing and reading, if you enjoy these 2 things you will be fine, because when it comes to essay skills you will improve and you will pick up better ways to revise but i have to say a vital part of my classes is discussion with my classmates over varying ideas, that's what helps you be perceptive , a core part of eng lit is discussion , it is a discussion based subject because it has many answers and hearing different views helps your understanding , as you are being homeschooled i would suggest you find some ppl doing this a-level and the same course as you and to discuss varying concepts etc with them. Also I dont know how many pieces of work you study in other boards but i am doing AQA and i will be studying ,an unseen text , produce an essay on 2 books of my choice that i will study , 2 plays, a poetry book and 3 novels .My sister who is doing psychology a-level says that it is a lot of content -there are a lot of experiments and case studies you will have to memorize-but it's doable if you take the time to understand it.
All three of the subjects you have mentioned are essay based and have a lot of content, i think its not about how hard the subjects are it just depends on what your strengths are, like if you are a very scientific or mathematical individual you may find these wordy subjects harder.
3)i hope this helped, i don't mean any offence and wish you the best of luck, i myself have never been home schooled so sorry if i didn't understand your questions properly.
Original post by Chickenunicorn17
1) First of all, I am going to start by saying that anything is possible, but with 100% honesty I would advise against you doing this because a-levels are a whole different level from gcses , although you may be able to cram it all in one year if you don't do many hobbies or anything else, you will be so stressed and you may not do as well as a result and all the other students sitting the exams in 2023 will have had an extra year of practice , revision and consolidation ,therefor it is highly likely that they will perform better, because although you may have covered the same content ,the human brain just learns better when information and learning is spaced out and yours will not be as spaced out as theirs , though maybe with enough consideration you could potentially choose the a-level you find easiest to do in 2023 and then do the other 2 in 2024.
2) I am doing a biology, chemistry and english literature a-level, i am not doing a psycology or RS a-elevel so i cant help u there, in regard to English literature it all boils down to writing and reading, if you enjoy these 2 things you will be fine, because when it comes to essay skills you will improve and you will pick up better ways to revise but i have to say a vital part of my classes is discussion with my classmates over varying ideas, that's what helps you be perceptive , a core part of eng lit is discussion , it is a discussion based subject because it has many answers and hearing different views helps your understanding , as you are being homeschooled i would suggest you find some ppl doing this a-level and the same course as you and to discuss varying concepts etc with them. Also I dont know how many pieces of work you study in other boards but i am doing AQA and i will be studying ,an unseen text , produce an essay on 2 books of my choice that i will study , 2 plays, a poetry book and 3 novels .My sister who is doing psychology a-level says that it is a lot of content -there are a lot of experiments and case studies you will have to memorize-but it's doable if you take the time to understand it.
All three of the subjects you have mentioned are essay based and have a lot of content, i think its not about how hard the subjects are it just depends on what your strengths are, like if you are a very scientific or mathematical individual you may find these wordy subjects harder.
3)i hope this helped, i don't mean any offence and wish you the best of luck, i myself have never been home schooled so sorry if i didn't understand your questions properly.


I am resititng English Literature and Psychology and have 2 years of experience with these subjects. The question is just whether Religious Studies is suitable for home learning.
Reply 3
It's possible but honestly will require serious dedication. Do OCR it's way easier than edexcel. In edexcel there's no choice of questions plus you gotta study anthology extracts which are super annoying. OCR topics are also more interesting imo, though this comes down to personal preferences a little bit.

RS is harder than english lit for sure, don't know about psychology though.

The text books suck so check out my website for learning resources and essay structure advice: https://alevelphilosophyandreligion.com/ocr-religious-studies/
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by McDonaldsEmploy
I am resititng English Literature and Psychology and have 2 years of experience with these subjects. The question is just whether Religious Studies is suitable for home learning.


Oh then you can definitely do that in time for this year and as a matter of fact you may even have an advantage over the other students with ur extra experience and RS--yeah i think that would be okay for home learning, i think you should check how much online support etc is available and discuss with ppl who have done the rs a-levels and then decide and naturally check the diff specifications so u know the easiest one to take--
Could u pls give me some advise on my eng-lit a-level and the psychology a-levle, anything u felt would have helped u a lot if u did or and did it earlier?
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by McDonaldsEmploy
I'm planning take Religious Studies (OCR or Edexcel depending on what I like) as a private candidate, meaning I'll study at home on my own.

1) Is it possible to revise the A-Level content in one academic year ready for the exams in May 2023 if i grind it?

2) How hard is the subject itself?

PS - I'm also taking English Literature and Psychology as my second and third options, both that I have taken before and both essay subjects.

I do OCR RS:
1) You might get through all the content in time if you really tried but I don't know if you could get the exam technique down whilst studying other subjects. Although, you are writing essays in your other subject I suppose, but RS essays are quite different. To score top marks it does take time and gradual improvemet. Don't underestimate how much thinking and understanding RS takes. It is a synoptic course and you need to be able to recognise and draw in all sorts of knowledge.
2) It depends if you have a knack for understanding logic and the nuances of philosophical arguments. If not, you can still get through it, but it'll be much harder. It also depends on the level of depth you go into really as the specification isn't super strict with who/what exactly you should know. If you want to score top marks it'll be much harder as you'll need to go above and beyond really.
Original post by Joe312
It's possible but honestly will require serious dedication. Do OCR it's way easier than edexcel. In edexcel there's no choice of questions plus you gotta study anthology extracts which are super annoying. OCR topics are also more interesting imo, though this comes down to personal preferences a little bit.

RS is harder than english lit for sure, don't know about psychology though.

The text books suck so check out my website for learning resources and essay structure advice: https://alevelphilosophyandreligion.com/ocr-religious-studies/


That is an excellent website to use, thank you.
Original post by pauline222
I do OCR RS:
1) You might get through all the content in time if you really tried but I don't know if you could get the exam technique down whilst studying other subjects. Although, you are writing essays in your other subject I suppose, but RS essays are quite different. To score top marks it does take time and gradual improvemet. Don't underestimate how much thinking and understanding RS takes. It is a synoptic course and you need to be able to recognise and draw in all sorts of knowledge.
2) It depends if you have a knack for understanding logic and the nuances of philosophical arguments. If not, you can still get through it, but it'll be much harder. It also depends on the level of depth you go into really as the specification isn't super strict with who/what exactly you should know. If you want to score top marks it'll be much harder as you'll need to go above and beyond really.

I know i have an interest in philosophy and the different ideas underpinning religion itself, which is why I want to do it. But I also know interest alone isn't going to cut it.

In your opinion, do you think understanding the "logic and the nuances of philosophical arguments" can be done at home with a textbook? Or there really needs to be a teacher for guidance and feedback?
Original post by pauline222
I do OCR RS:
1) You might get through all the content in time if you really tried but I don't know if you could get the exam technique down whilst studying other subjects. Although, you are writing essays in your other subject I suppose, but RS essays are quite different. To score top marks it does take time and gradual improvemet. Don't underestimate how much thinking and understanding RS takes. It is a synoptic course and you need to be able to recognise and draw in all sorts of knowledge.
2) It depends if you have a knack for understanding logic and the nuances of philosophical arguments. If not, you can still get through it, but it'll be much harder. It also depends on the level of depth you go into really as the specification isn't super strict with who/what exactly you should know. If you want to score top marks it'll be much harder as you'll need to go above and beyond really.

I read in OCR's examiner report that students struggle with timing. How bad is this timing issue in your opinion?
I'm not exactly the fastest at scribbling down answers unless it's copying down pure knowledge from memory.
Reply 9
Original post by McDonaldsEmploy
I read in OCR's examiner report that students struggle with timing. How bad is this timing issue in your opinion?
I'm not exactly the fastest at scribbling down answers unless it's copying down pure knowledge from memory.


If you get organised with your revision material then you can just copy down pure knowledge from memory - you can learn paragraphs off by heart - between 3 and 7 for each of the 31 topics - and for each essay you'd end up needing 3 (the 3 that best fit the particular essay question.

So with lots of learning and practice it can be a matter of pure memory.
Original post by McDonaldsEmploy
I read in OCR's examiner report that students struggle with timing. How bad is this timing issue in your opinion?
I'm not exactly the fastest at scribbling down answers unless it's copying down pure knowledge from memory.

I struggle quite a lot with the 40 minute essays as I like to spend much longer on them. Again, it's a matter of practice though. You can learn to write them quickly but you do need to have arguments/theses ready to go in your head, you can't be crafting anything new or philosophically groundbreaking in 40 minutes.
Original post by McDonaldsEmploy
I know i have an interest in philosophy and the different ideas underpinning religion itself, which is why I want to do it. But I also know interest alone isn't going to cut it.

In your opinion, do you think understanding the "logic and the nuances of philosophical arguments" can be done at home with a textbook? Or there really needs to be a teacher for guidance and feedback?

I think it can be done at home, although teachers are very useful. I ask the most questions in RS out of all my subjects, although you can often find helpful videos/forums online for this sort of stuff where people have asked similar questions. And the way I've improved at essays is purely through teacher feedback. You would miss out on the marking aspect which is quite an important one.
Original post by pauline222
I do OCR RS:
1) You might get through all the content in time if you really tried but I don't know if you could get the exam technique down whilst studying other subjects. Although, you are writing essays in your other subject I suppose, but RS essays are quite different. To score top marks it does take time and gradual improvemet. Don't underestimate how much thinking and understanding RS takes. It is a synoptic course and you need to be able to recognise and draw in all sorts of knowledge.
2) It depends if you have a knack for understanding logic and the nuances of philosophical arguments. If not, you can still get through it, but it'll be much harder. It also depends on the level of depth you go into really as the specification isn't super strict with who/what exactly you should know. If you want to score top marks it'll be much harder as you'll need to go above and beyond really.


Hi I know this thread is old. But I'm hoping you could give some help on the matter.

I spoke with a OCR RS teacher. She said in her words "the hardest thing is writing a critical essay, engaging with an argument and writing at length without short questions or built in structure."

What do you think of critical essays? Are they too difficult to surmount for a home-student without a teacher.
Original post by McDonaldsEmploy
Hi I know this thread is old. But I'm hoping you could give some help on the matter.

I spoke with a OCR RS teacher. She said in her words "the hardest thing is writing a critical essay, engaging with an argument and writing at length without short questions or built in structure."

What do you think of critical essays? Are they too difficult to surmount for a home-student without a teacher.


Hi there, as I mentioned before, feedback is the main thing which will improve your essays. The actual content can be tackled without a teacher I think, but it is very helpful to have essays marked and checked.
Original post by pauline222
Hi there, as I mentioned before, feedback is the main thing which will improve your essays. The actual content can be tackled without a teacher I think, but it is very helpful to have essays marked and checked.

As i can't afford a tutor, is there a way around feedback by just referencing model answers?

More importantly are there model answer resources for OCR RS?
(edited 1 year ago)
That's the thing, model answers are subjective.

I do OCR A level Religious Studies at school and have two teachers. One teacher consistently gives me A/A*s while the other consistently gives me D-Bs.

I would suggest a bi-weekly tutor to review essays and I would grind the content by using pre-existing notes and videos. (Get a job)

There are model answers resources and I'm happy to send them down the line if you reach out but, I wouldn't advise doing it in a year (also, learning RS alone sounds like a bore, I learnt most of my content by arguing with people who revise while not revising myself)
Original post by Siren_2
That's the thing, model answers are subjective.

I do OCR A level Religious Studies at school and have two teachers. One teacher consistently gives me A/A*s while the other consistently gives me D-Bs.

I would suggest a bi-weekly tutor to review essays and I would grind the content by using pre-existing notes and videos. (Get a job)

There are model answers resources and I'm happy to send them down the line if you reach out but, I wouldn't advise doing it in a year (also, learning RS alone sounds like a bore, I learnt most of my content by arguing with people who revise while not revising myself)


Thanks for answering @Siren_2, yeah I'm considering hiring a marker for a few sessions. £30 for 1 hour seems too expensive. I find that I'm best at learning just lone wolfing it. Aside from that can you answer some more pls.

What do you know about the much vaunted "critical essays"? And how generous is the timing for the exams based on your experience?
(edited 1 year ago)
Critical essays?
Original post by Siren_2
Critical essays?


Maybe they aren't named that in the spec but that is what the OCR RS teacher told me.
Sounds like your teacher just meant essays that include critical analysis and evaluation.

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