Posted in A2 Sociology: Religion, Uncategorized

A2: Last minute exam tips

I have marked a few practice essays today and there are a few things that I think are worth focusing upon:

  • Introduction – try to give an overall picture of the debate; don’t just present the view of one side, very briefly outline what the range of views are.
  • Always plan your 18 and 33 mark responses – 2 mins plan for the 18 and 5 mins for 33 – this will allow you to link the arguments rather than listing information (which is what so many students do).
  • Try to link your paragraphs – the first sentence of the paragraph should link to the last and ideally, the title too.
  • When you are supporting a point with evidence, list a range of examples and then choose one or two to analyse in more detail. For example, if you were writing about fundamentalism you might write: The relatively new phenomenon of Islamic fundamentalism has occurred in a number of countries such as Iran, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. Within these societies there has been a significant movement to a strictly literal interpretation of Islam, one that is a closed belief system and punishes transgressions with often extreme punishment. In Iran, for example, since the 1979 revolution, the Shia regime has been seemingly intent on forcing its citizens to abide by their version of sharia law – anyone who fails to do so is at risk of arrest by the religious police. Moreover, the recent rise of Isis in some Middle Eastern countries signals that secularisation is not necessarily going to conquer the world instead Anthony Giddens and Steve Bruce argue that fundamentalism is a reaction to Westernization and perhaps this trend is likely to continue…
  • Remember that unlike other parts of the world, Europe underwent the age of enlightenment (which Sociology was part of) and this is often considered to be a primary reason why many European countries have experienced secularisation:
  • You can refer to events in the past such as the medieval ages but do not dwell on these – focus on contemporary examples
  • Utilise a range of sociologists – if you are referring to postmodernism during A02 evaluation make sure you mention at least a couple of postmodernists and give an overview of their particular theory/research
  • Always try and give a balanced argument – cover all sides of the debate and then you can draw a conclusion based on your findings
  • Don’t write about ‘society’ always identify which specific society you are referring to.
  • Whilst it is good practice not to go into huge A01 detail, some of you are not giving enough of an explanation – make sure you explain the key ideas before moving onto A02a and A02b
  • Secularisation usually refers to a decline in religious influence and/or religiosity – it is very hard to argue that the UK has not experienced a decline even if you take Davie’s argument that the only change is that there is believing without belonging now (privatization) – census statistics from 2001 and 2011 and mori polls ( for example do not support this.
  • However, Berger does make a strong case for secularisation being a myth in many places:


Posted in A2 Sociology: Religion, AS Sociology: Family, GCSE Sociology, Uncategorized


Some of you asked me to write a post about the revision style that I followed, so here you go:

Two to three months before the exams: 

  1. Add to your revision notes – fill any gaps and improve the notes you have.
  2. Make your notes easy to read – add colours and illustrations
  3. Make sure you understand the specification – how many questions, marks, timings etc.
  4. Get hold of as many past papers/questions as possible (old spec:; new spec –
  5. Create revision cards/tables/mindmaps
  6. Begin to write some practice essays – they don’t need to be timed and you can use your notes

Around four to six weeks before the exams:

Now your notes are perfect, you can start to revise intensively:

  1. Exam answers – write a timed answer – then check the answer against your notes/textbook etc – highlight A01 and A02 in different colours – in another colour write down anything that you have missed/any improvements – self mark – email to me and I can mark it – if I give it a mark you are happy with, tick the question so you know you don’t need to write another answer, if it is a low mark, make a note of it so that you re-revise this topic and potentially write another answer or at least a plan.
  2. A quick way to cover a lot of questions is to create plans for them. In the first instance, take your time and use your notes to create a really good plan. You will then use these plans later to check timed plans against
  3. Anything that you are weak on – keep using the revision cards with friends/family to check knowledge – just make sure that you write a list of things that you are not so good at – remember, the aim is to identify what you don’t know, so that you can make sure you revise it!

Two weeks to go:

  1. Keep writing timed exam answers, maybe complete a full timed mock paper – self mark it – then email me
  2. Because you have less time now, start to complete some spoken essays. Choose a question, then plan it (in 4 minutes max), then record yourself speaking through the entire essay – make sure you speak exactly as you write. Listen back to it and list anything that you have missed.
  3. Try and create your own exam style questions – this will really get you to think about what might come up

One week to go:

  1. You should be feeling pretty confident now…hopefully the list of what you are not so confident about should be a lot shorter – use the revision cards to keep working on those weak areas
  2. Write timed plans for your made up questions – check them afterwards and with another pen, add anything you may have missed
  3. Create a one sided A4 sheet with the key information for the exam – how many questions, how many marks, how many minutes for each question. Also, identify your main targets: always link back to the question; try to apply ideas to the UK etc…
  4. Have a flick through all your essays and plans – read the question and state what you would answer, then quickly check to see if you have thought of everything…
  5. Be confident – you are ready!


Posted in A2 Sociology: Religion

A2 Beliefs questions

It seems that the latest past paper questions are missing from the revision book, so here they are:

June 2014

 0 1 Identify and briefly explain three arguments against the view that secularisation has

occurred worldwide over the past 30 years or so, apart from those referred to in Item A.

[9 marks]

 0 2 Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess the view that traditional churches

are experiencing declining attendances mainly because they are no longer attracting the


[18 marks]


0 3 ‘Religion today helps societies to remain stable and to avoid conflict.’

To what extent do sociological arguments and evidence support this view?

 [33 marks]


0 4 Evaluate feminist views on the role of religion in society today.

[33 marks]


June 2013

0 1 Identify and briefly explain three characteristics of sects. (9 marks)

 0 2 Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess the view that the growth of religious

fundamentalism is a reaction to globalisation. (18 marks)


0 3 Evaluate the contribution of Marxist theories to our understanding of the role and

functions of religion in the world today. (33 marks)


0 4 ‘Different social groups have different social and spiritual needs and use religion and

religious organisations in very different ways.’

To what extent do sociological arguments and evidence support this view? (33 marks)


Jan 2012

0 1 Identify and briefly explain three ways in which women may be disadvantaged by

religion today. (9 marks)

 0 2 Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess the view that religion no longer acts

as a ‘shared universe of meaning’ for people today. (18 marks)


0 3 Assess the view that religion inhibits social change. (33 marks)


0 4 Evaluate the role of New Age movements in society today. (33 marks)

  June 2012

0 1 Identify and briefly explain three reasons why statistics on religious belief may not be accurate. (9 marks)

0 2 Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess the view that women are no longer oppressed by religion. (18 marks)

EITHER 0 3 ‘Religion is still the most significant ideological influence in the world today.’ To what extent do sociological arguments and evidence support this view? (33 marks)

OR 0 4 Critically examine sociological views of sects in society today. (33 marks)

 Jan 2012

0 1 Identify and briefly explain three reasons why members of minority ethnic groups may seem to be more religious than members of the majority population. (9 marks)

0 2 Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess the view that most people today choose not to be lifelong members of religious organisations. (18 marks)

EITHER 0 3 ‘The growth of New Age and similar movements is evidence of a spiritual revolution in society today.’ To what extent do sociological arguments and evidence support this view? (33 marks)

OR 0 4 Assess the usefulness of functionalist theories in understanding religion today. (33 marks)