In the light of the pandemic and the disruption it has caused to education, the government decided that for the exams in 2022, teachers and students should be made aware of the topic areas they have chosen for this year’s papers in advance. The chosen topics can be found here:
H573 A Level Religious Studies Advance Information_Jun2022 (8).pdf (A Level)
H173 AS Level Religious Studies Advance Information_Jun2022 (1).pdf (AS)
This pre-release lets you know the areas of the course that will be tested this summer. These question papers will have been set many months ago; there are lots of checks and revisions that have to be made with exam question papers and it takes time, so these are the papers that would have been set had there been no pandemic. They have not been written especially, in the knowledge that Covid 19 has interrupted learning. The difficulty of the questions will be the same as ever, the format of the question paper will be the same, and the marking will be done using the same Levels of Response as usual.
You may be worried about the forthcoming exams, especially if you have not been able to take public exams before. Here are some tips and some advice you may find useful:
- Think of revision in terms of ‘general’ revision and ‘close’ revision. ‘General’ revision might involve revisiting your notes and text books for all of the topics, whether they are specified for this year or not. ‘Close’ revision will focus on the prescribed topics, going through them in considerably more detail, making careful summary notes and using these topics as practice for timed essays before the live exams. It may seem as though you can safely abandon any revision for topics other than the prescribed ones, but it would be a good idea to keep that material in mind too, as you approach exams. You may find, for example, that when you are asked about arguments from observation, you want to discuss whether a spiritual vision in a religious experience counts as ‘observation’, and so your knowledge of religious experience will come in useful. If you choose a question on Christian moral action, you may find that it is helpful for your argument to refer to Christian moral principles as well. There are lots of useful links to be made. Focus your close revision on the prescribed topics, but still make time for more general revision of the rest. You may find a revision guide a helpful tool, such as this one – Oxford A Level Religious Studies for OCR Revision Guide: Oxford University Press (oup.com) – as it will give you exercises to use and key points to remember.
- Use the specification as a checklist for your close revision, making sure you have covered everything. There are bullet points at the end of each unit, highlighting areas you will be expected to be able to discuss, such as a comparison between Plato’s Form of the Good and Aristotle’s Prime Mover. When you revise, try not to give all your attention entirely to knowledge and understanding. A lot of students focus their revision exclusively on learning who said what, learning quotations, and learning lists of strengths and weaknesses. They just learn the AO1 material and forget all about the skills required for AO2. However, 60% of your A Level marks are for your skills in critical evaluation and argument, so make this an important part of your revision too. Remind yourself of your opinions, and rehearse what you are going to say if asked, just as you would rehearse if you were going to be in a debating competition. Do you think Natural Law is helpful in making moral decisions about sexual ethics, for example? You may think that it is too rigid and judgemental, giving rules that are more appropriate for a world before artificial contraception and before AIDS; or, you may think that in times of heightened emotion, people need firm guidelines, and should not feel free to do whatever seems to create the greatest happiness, ignoring what is morally right. Whatever you want to argue in all of the topics, make sure that your revision includes thinking through your own point of view and the reasons you will give to defend it. High marks are for those who engage with the questions and use their material, rather than just memorise and repeat it.
- For all exams, it is very important to look after your own physical and mental health. Revision is important, as are good grades, but you are even more important. Do your best to get fresh air and exercise, find time to do things you enjoy as well as your work, and if you find things are getting on top of you, talk to someone about it.
The pandemic has affected everybody, and the awarding bodies and universities are well aware of this. They want you to get the right grades and to have a positive experience when you take your exams, and everyone will do their best to help you as you move on to the next stage of your life.
For more A Level support and advice, take a look at
Libby Ahluwalia has extensive teaching and examining experience and has authored numerous successful textbooks for GCSE and A Level.