Exams, Essays and Short Answer Questions

An overview of the exam papers for AS and A-level sociology (AQA) and dozens of exemplar questions and answers. Scroll down for links to the following ‘types’ of question, model answers, plans and general hints and tips:

  • Short answer 4 and 6 mark ‘outline’ questions.
  • 10 mark ‘outline and explain’ questions
  • 10 mark ‘analyse using the item questions
  • 20 and 30 mark ‘evaluate’ essay questions
  • 20 mark methods in context essay question.

Unlike the AQA, which seems to be a little reticent about giving out exam advice of late (writing April 2018), all of the exam advice you’ll find on the links below I’m giving out for free.

Where the example questions are concerned (scroll down further), some links will take you to model answers on this blog, some will be forthcoming, some will cost ya, and are links to my paid, but most excellent resources bundles. While you might find this annoying, sorry about that, but I’ve gotta earn dollar. These resources take ages to produce. 

The AS and A Level Exams 

There are two 90 minute papers at the end of the AS year, and three two hour papers at the end of the A Level Year. Remember that if you do the AS qualification, your grades don’t count towards the A level, you are reassessed in a slightly different format on all of the first year material, along with all of the second year material as part of the A level exams at the end of the two years of study. 

Exam Papers for AS and A Level Sociologythis link just takes you to the AQA web site’s assessment page – you should definitely check out the exam papers, and practice them!

AQA A Level Sociology – The Three Exam Papers

AQA Paper 1 – Education with Theory and Methodshints and tips for answering the six questions on this 2 hour exam paper. 

AQA Paper 2 – Topics in Sociologyhints and tips for answering the 6 (optional) questions on this two hour exam paper 

How I would’ve answered the families and households section of A level sociology paper 2 (AQA, 2017)

AQA Paper 3 – Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods

You might find my cheesy exam guide for the AS sociology exam useful….


Assessment Objectives in AS and A Level Sociology – It’s useful to know how the marks are distributed in the exam – there are complex question by question breakdowns on the specification, but to simplify it – Knowledge and Understanding (of concepts, theories, research) is worth about 50% of the marks in the exam, the other 50% are for Application, Analysis and Evaluation. 

Essays and Essay Plans

This will gradually be populated with more and more essays, please check back for more!

Evaluate the Marxist View of the Role of Education in Society sociology-of-education-cover(30)

Evaluate the view that differences in educational achievement between social groups are the result of factors and processes within schools (30)

Evaluate the extent to which it is home based factors, rather than in-school factors which explain social class differences in educational achievement (30)

Research Methods in Context – essay template (30)

Assess the Strengths of Using Participant Observation in Social Research (20)

Evaluate the view that the main aim of the family is to meet the needs of capitalism (20)

Assess the reasons for the long term increase in the divorce rate (20)

Evaluate the Contribution of Consensus Theory to Our Understanding of Crime and Deviance (30)

Assess sociological perspectives on prison as a form of punishment (30)

Extended Paragraphs 

An essay typically consists of a number of paragraphs, and the general paragraph structure in a sociology essay is to make a point, explain it, expand on it, and then analyse/ evaluate it. The points you make will obviously depend on the question you’re being asked, and you’re generally looking to make from 3-5 points in each essay. At least one of these, ideally two should go into some depth, and the paragraphs below have been written to show you how deep you could go into analysing and evaluating just one point within an essay. 

An Evaluation of Zero Tolerance Policing – This is an overkill paragraph demonstrating different aspects of ZTP with 6 evaluation points. You might discuss ZTP in response to a question about Realism in general, right realism specifically, policies of crime control, or the role of the police in reducing crime.

10 Mark Questions 

Paper 1: education section possible 10 mark (with item) questions

Applying material from item A, analyse two ways in which the functions of education might reproduce class inequalities in society (10) – available with the ‘education revision bundle

Applying material from Item A, analyse two reasons why some pupils join pupil subcultures (10)

Applying material from Item A, analyse two effects of increased parental choice on pupils’ experience of education (10) – forthcoming! 

Applying material from item A, analyse two reasons why marketization policies may have increased inequality of educational opportunities for some students (10)

Applying material from item A, analyse two ways in which globalisation may have changed the way pupils experience education (10)

Applying material from Item A, analyse two ways in which cultural capital might give some children an advantage in education (10) – available with the ‘education revision bundle

Applying material from item A, analyse two reasons for gender differences in subject choice (10)

Applying material from item A Analyse two ways in which processes within school might encourage students to adopt traditional gender identities (10) – available with the ‘education revision bundle

Applying material from Item A, analyse two ways in which the hidden curriculum may disadvantage ethnic minority students (10) – forthcoming 

Applying material from Item A, analyse two ways in which educational policies might deal with white working class underachievement (10) – forthcoming 

Paper 2: topics in sociology (section A, families and households option)

Outline and explain two social changes which may explain the decline in marriage in recent decades (10)

Outline and explain two ways in which changes to gender roles have affected diversity of family structures (10)

Paper 3: Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods (just crime and deviance questions!) 

Using material from item A, analyse two reasons for the formation of subcultures (10)

Using material from item A, analyse two ways in which crime has changed in response to postmodern society (10)

A Suggested Revision Strategy for A Level Sociology

As I see it – Revision Should be done in Three Stages

Stage One – Planning and Preparation – START FEB HALF TERM (or earlier)

Stage Two – Doing and Learning Summary Revision Notes – Start in Easter Vacation

Stage Three – Reviewing and Hench Exam Practice – Starts Mid-April

Of course there’s no reason why you can’t mix it up and/ or get ahead – these are just suggestions. The more the merrier when it comes to revision. NB don’t forget to eat and sleep. 

  1. Planning/ Preparation for revision
  • Know What you Need to know – Keep in mind the main topics and sub topics (know what you need to know) – Ideally stick an A3 copy of the course structure on your wall – keep referring back to it
  • Know how you are assessed – Stick an A3 copy of the two exam papers on the wall – keep referring back to them
  • Do an overview of a revision timetable – allow enough time to cover every topic at least three times (not including the last week of the exam when you should be constantly reviewing everything)
  1. Make your own detailed revision notes and memorise them

Construct Summary Revision Notes for each Sub-Topic write 1-2 pages of revision notes covering the following:

  • Intro Blurb – roughly what is it about?
  • 3-5 Key points about the sub-topic
  • Overall evaluation points – NB these will overlap with other sub-topics!)
  • Key concepts/ evidence/ sociologists highlighted
  1. Exam practice
  • Test yourself on short answer questions
  • Plan essays using the ‘Intro – PEEC*4 – Overall Evaluations – Conclusion’ structure
  • Write essays under timed conditions
  • Also look at actual exam papers which will ask you questions which cover two or more topics.

Quizlets and Kahoots 

To play ‘Kahoots’ you need two devices, I suggest a lap top/ PC/ tablet and a phone. You basically need to play quiz master on one device and ‘competitor’ on another. 

You then need to do as follows:

  1. Click on the quiz links below on device one – you’ll be taken to the ‘quiz start page’ where you’ll see the ‘joining instructions’ which you’ll need to follow through on device two.
  2. Go to ‘Kahoot.it’ on device two and enter the pin and then a nickname (you’ll be directed to do this in two stages.
  3. Click start on device one and play – device one will project up the questions with the ‘Kahoot shapes’ – and then you’ll need to click the relevant shape which you’ll see on device two. You’ll need to click ‘next’ on device one to carry on…. you’ll get the hang of it!