AQA A-level sociology exam advice 2018: how to answer 4 and 6 mark ‘outline questions’ (crime and deviance, 2)

Two examples of marked exam scripts from the AQA: one candidate achieved 3/6, the other achieved 6/6.

Together these should give you a good example of the standards of marking on the short mark outline and explain questions which appear on the AQA’s A-level sociology papers 1 and 3

Last Updated on January 9, 2019 by Karl Thompson

Below is an example of two actual marked response to a 6 mark ‘outline question’, marked by AQA examiners.

The example is taken from the 2017 Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods Paper (paper and mark schemes available from the AQA website) and the specific question is:

Outline three functions that crime and deviance may perform (6)

While this example is taken from 4 mark outline question from the education paper, the general advice below on how to answer such questions applies equally both the 4 and 6 mark outline questions on both A level sociology papers 3 and 1.

For general advice on how to answer 4 and 6 mark outline questions please see this post here.

The mark scheme for this question is as below:

Two marks for each of three appropriate functions clearly outlined or one mark for each appropriate function partially outlined, such as:

  • boundary maintenance (1 mark); the social reaction to crime and deviance by media and courts reaffirms society’s shared values (+1 mark)
  • deviance brings about social change (1 mark); new ideas or institutions always initially appear as deviance from existing norms (+1 mark)
  •  minor deviance acts as a safety valve (1 mark); it diverts potentially dangerous motivations into less harmful channels (+1 mark)
  • it acts as a warning (1 mark); a high level of deviance indicates an institution is not functioning properly and needs reform (+1 mark)
  •  crime and deviance create employment (1 mark); their existence provides work for those in the media, the criminal justice system, moral entrepreneurs etc (+1 mark).

Other relevant material should be credited.
No marks for no relevant points.

Marked exemplar 1:

outline explain three functions crime.png

KT’s commentary

  • This candidate got 3/6
  • The second point and explanation is just barely enough!

Marked exemplar 2:

Sociology A-level marked examples

KT’s Commentary

  • This is a good example of HOW TO DO IT!
  • Three clear functions (highlighted in boxes) with three clear explanations, underlined.
  • It is also good practice as this candidate does to use examples…  the example works better to my mind in the last point and secures them with a guaranteed 6/6/
  • It must have take quite a while to find such a ‘classic’ example of ‘perfect form’ for a 6 mark outline question. Not many scripts are this clearly 6/6!


  • A-level SOCIOLOGY Feedback on the Examinations Student responses and commentaries: Paper 3 7192/3 Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods
    (Published: Autumn 2017)
  • The AQA’s 2017 Paper 3 Sociology (7192/3) Mark Scheme.

NB – the first document is NOT available on the AQA website, but any teacher should have access to it via eaqa. I’m sharing it here in order to make the exam standards more accessible, and to support the AQA in their equality and meritocratic agendas, because there will be some poor students somewhere whose teachers aren’t organised enough to access this material for them. 

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