How Are A-Level Sociology Essays Marked?

Below is a pared-down general mark-scheme for 20 and 30 mark sociology essays, adapted from the AQA’s more specific mark-schemes from the 2016-17 specimen A level papers.

/30 /20 Descriptor
25-30 17-20 Sound, conceptually detailed knowledge of a range of relevant material, good sophisticated understanding of the question and of the presented material. Appropriate material applied accurately and with sensitivity to the issues raised by the question.

Analysis and evaluation will be explicit and relevant. Evaluation may be developed for example through a debate between different perspectives, e.g. by comparing or contrasting different perspectives. Analysis will show clear explanation. Appropriate conclusions will be drawn.

19-24 13-16 Accurate, broad and/or deep but incomplete knowledge. Understands a number of significant aspects of the question; good understanding of the presented material.

Application of material is largely explicitly relevant to the question, though some material may be inadequately focused.

Some limited explicit evaluation e.g. the debate about the symmetrical family and/or some appropriate analysis, e.g. clear explanations of some of the presented material.

13-18 9-12 Largely accurate knowledge but limited range and depth, e.g. a broadly accurate knowledge of relevant concepts and theories. Understands some limited but significant aspects of the question; superficial understanding of the presented material.

Applying listed material from the general topic area but with limited regard for its relevance to the issues raised by the question, or applying a narrow range of more relevant material.

Evaluation limited at most to juxtaposition of competing positions or one to two isolated stated points. Analysis will be limited, with answers tending towards the descriptive.

7-12 5-8 Limited undeveloped knowledge, e.g. two to three insubstantial knowledge points. Understands only very limited aspects of the question; simplistic understanding of the presented material.

Limited application of suitable material, and/or material often at a tangent to the demands of the question, e.g. drifting into answering a different question.

Very limited, minimal or no evaluation. Attempts at analysis, if any, are thin and disjointed.

1-6 1-4 Very limited knowledge, e.g. one to two very insubstantial knowledge points. Very little/no understanding of the question and of the presented material.

Significant errors, and/or omissions, and/or significant incoherence in application of material. Minimal or no analysis or evaluation.

Of course the actual mark schemes will refer to the actual question, and have a bunch of ‘indicative knowledge’ at the end of it, but the above is a general guide at least.


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