Hints and Tips - 5 minute read
Ewan Brady, OCR Religious Studies Subject Advisor
We want to support A Level Religious Studies (RS) students preparing for exams in the autumn or next summer and in my blog I’ll be discussing the previous exam series, sharing exam tips and more.
This new A Level Religious Studies course was first taught in 2016 with the first A Level exams sat by candidates in 2018 and a second series in 2019.
In the 2018 exams there was much that went well for candidates, but there were some significant issues, as discussed in the examiner reports written by the principal examiners:
What went well:
What was less successful:
2019 was the second year of exams in the new specification and in their reports the examiners talked about the improvements they had seen.
Timing was much better – more candidates wrote three complete essays than in 2018 where this had been an issue for some students.
Candidates were able to get excellent marks at Level 6 without using additional answer booklets.
Here are 5 tips for the upcoming exams based on what our examiners have seen:
Here are a further 3 ideas from our examiners for developing your technique:
When dealing with scholarly views it is important to note that evaluation rather than comparison or juxtaposition is key in the best responses.
On our website we have a range of resources that are designed for teachers, but students can also use them to help in preparing for their exams, each contains:
The specification explains the aims and learning outcomes of the qualification. It details what students should know, understand and be able to do. The specification lists the content in detail and provides suggested scholarly views, academic approaches and sources of wisdom and authority.
Students can access assessment materials from the 2018 exam series – these include the question papers, mark schemes and examiners reports. The mark schemes give what we call indicative content – the answers that we expect students might give. Alternative answers can be given credit. The levels of response are used to mark the questions.
The examiner reports are written by the principal examiners following feedback from all the examiners. They discuss the papers in general, ways in which candidates were successful and areas where there were issues. They also discuss most questions in detail. The reports are well worth reading for tips.
We have also published exemplar answers with commentaries from the 2018 exams. These are real answers written by real candidates that achieved high and medium scores on their papers. The commentaries are written by the principal examiners.
This blog is based on our Summer Highlights report from 2019 and the Examiners Reports from 2018 and 2019. There is also a command words resource available that you may find useful. These can all be found with the assessment materials.
All the best with your studies.
If you have any questions about any aspects of this blog you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, you can also follow us @OCR_RS.
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Ewan Brady, OCR Subject Advisor
Ewan Brady joined OCR as a subject specialist in June 2014. Since joining OCR Ewan has been responsible for a number of subjects including Law, Government and Politics and Sociology. Ewan led the redevelopment of our new AS and A Levels in Law for first teaching in 2017. He took over responsibility for Religious Studies as Subject Advisor in 2017.
Ewan taught for 16 years in Scotland and England and has eight years of leadership experience in humanities, teaching subjects including history, law, politics, citizenship and religious studies.