Advice on examples of possible 10 mark (outline and explain or analyse applying the item) questions for the AQA’s A-level sociology.
There are two types of 10 mark question within the families and households section of the AQA’s A-level sociology paper 2: An outline and explain (no item) question and an ‘applying material from an item, analyse question. Both questions will ask students to Outline or explain/ analyse using the item TWO ways/ reasons, consequences/ criticisms (the action words may vary)
In its ‘guidance on 10 mark questions’ (see link above), the AQA intimates that there is a strong possibility that both of these types of 10 mark question will ask students to link two areas from within the broader topic area.
For families and households, there are 5 main topic areas, as outlined below, and it is likely that any 10 mark question will ask to you show how one of these areas is related to another.
So typical example questions might ask you link perspectives on the family to birth rates, or social policies to childhood.
HOWEVER, according to the notes and guidance on 10 mark questions provided by the AQA does not say that a 10 mark question will necessarily ask students to link two topic areas: the guidance on ’10 mark ‘outline and explain’ questions says linking two areas is one way students may be asked to show analyse, but it isn’t the only way; and for the 10 mark analyse from the item type questions, the guidance explicitly says you may be asked to link two elements from the same or different areas within the topic.
So, for these reasons I’ve also included the ‘core themes’ in the diagram above, because to my mind, linking any of the above topic areas to any of the core themes might be another way the AQA might get you to analyse in an outline and explain type question.
Finally, you also need to be prepared for a more in depth question, where the 10 mark applying from the item questions are concerned, one which only asks you to discuss material from within one bullet point above.
The guidance above should apply equally as well to 10 mark questions on paper 1 (Education with Theory and Methods) and paper 3 (Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods), as well as, of course, section B, the other option on the topics paper 2.
A 10 mark ‘analyse with item’ practice question and answer for the AQA’s A-level paper 2: families
Applying material from Item A, analyse two changes in the position of children in society over the last 100 years (10)
Parents today spend a great deal of time and money trying to make sure that their children enjoy a comfortable upbringing. They want their children to have opportunities that they themselves never had. ‘March of progress’ sociologists argue that these changes in family life have led to an improvement in the position of children in society.
How to answer this question?
It’s pretty obscure (IMO) but the item gives you TWO obvious ‘hooks’:
Time/ money/ comfortable upbringing which is pointing to ‘improving living standards’
Improved opportunities – education being the most obvious!
The above two should be your two points, analysed in both cases from the March of progress view (how have these improved the position of children), and to my mind this question is also screaming for you to evaluate each of these points (unlike the not item outline and explain 10 mark questions, you do get marks for evaluating in these ’10 mark with the item’ question.
You might like to review these two posts before attempting this question:
I advise developing each of the points below still further!
Point 1: As it says in item A, one change in children’s position in society is that parents spend more time and money on them, and so they have a more comfortable life… the average child now costs about £250K to raise, much more than 100 years ago.
Development – this is because of economic growth over the last 100 years, parents now earn more money and so are able to spend more on children’s toys and ‘educational experiences’ which can further child development; as well as more nutritional food, which means children are healthier.
Further development – parents are also more involved with the socialisation of their children; this is especially true of middle class parents who invest a lot time ‘injecting cultural capital’ into their children.
Further development – lying behind all of this is the fact that children are no longer seen as economic assets: they no longer have to work, but rather there has been a cultural shift in which children have rights and should be allowed a lengthy childhood in which they are cared for.
Evaluation – However there are critics of this ‘march of progress view’ – not all parents are able to afford products for their children (lone parents for example) which can create a sense of marginalisation; also there is a sense in which parents spend time with their kids because they are paranoid about their safety in a risk society – Frank Furedi for example argues that this might stifle child development by preventing them from becoming independent.
Point 2: The second social change which can be said to have improved the lives of children is improved opportunities for children – such as with the expansion of education.
Development – 100 years ago (early 19th century) schooling was only compulsory up until about the age of 14, and this was gradually extended through the decades until today children are expected to be in education or training until the age of 18.
Further Development – From a functionalist point of view, education is meritocratic today and so provides opportunities for all children to achieve qualifications and get jobs appropriate to their skills. Children also benefit from the secondary socialisation schools provide, which many uneducated parents may not be able to provide effectively. We now have National Curriculum which ensures all children learn maths English and a broad range of other subjects
Further development – The expansion of education has been combined with the expansion of child welfare more generally – so schools are about improving child well being and safety more generally, meaning children have more opportunities to escape abuse than in the past.
Evaluation – However, from a Marxist point of view, not everyone has the same opportunities in school, and from a Feminist perspective gendered socialisation and stereotyping in school means that girls do not have equality of opportunity with boys.
A Level Sociology Families and Households Revision Bundle
My attempt at a model 10/10 answer for this A-level sociology exam question (families and households topic)
This is the 10 mark question in the crime and deviance section of the AQA’s 2016 Specimen A-level sociology paper 2: Topics in Sociology, section A: Families and Households option.
In this post I consider a ‘lower middle mark band’ student response (4/10 marks) to this question and the examiner commentary (both are provided by the AQA here) before considering what a ‘top band’ answer might look like.
The Question (with the item!)
The Mark Scheme:
Examiner Commentary: (4/10 marks)
This is taken straight from the AQA’s own specimen (2016) material. NB I think the commentary actually misses out the most significant thing the candidate does not do, see below for my commentary on the commentary…
What the candidate does well
Two reasonable suggestions are offered
There is no problem that they are “opposites” in that both situations may occur in different families.
The response provides a competent explanation of each change, explaining how and why older people may impact on female members of the generation beneath them (unfortunately, this is not what the question has asked for).
What the candidate does not do well
The response fails to fully answer the question because it does not explicitly connect the change in the position of women to family structures – implicit links to roles are as far as the response gets.
This answer does not have a strong knowledge base and concepts are limited
The second paragraph could do more to explain how/why the ageing population will lead to more grandparents who are able to provide the suggested role.
Both knowledge and application to family structures could be much stronger in this response however there is enough material of partial relevance to access the middle band.
This answer is a little too brief, given that around 15 minutes of an examination should be allocated to a 10 mark question.
How you might improve on this response to move up to the top band….
This is my input:
NB – WHAT THE EXAMINERS RESPONSE DOES NOT SAY IS THAT THE POINTS MADE DO NOT SEEM TO COME EXPLICITLY FROM THE ITEM…. IF THE CANDIDATE WAS USING THE ITEM, THEY WOULD HAVE ONE POINT ABOUT ‘INCREASING LIFE EXPECTANCY’ AND ONE POINT ABOUT ‘DECLINING BIRTH RATES’ AND THEN LINK THESE TO CHANGING FAMILY STRUCTURES.
TO MY MIND THE RESPONSE ABOVE IS BASICALLY ‘THE MIDDLE BITS’ – WHAT’S MISSING IS CLEAR REFERENCE TO THE ITEM (THE BEGINNING BITS OF BOTH POINTS) AND ESPECIALLY THE END BITS, ON FAMILY STRUCTURE!
Anyway, if you’d like to submit an improved answer in the comments which takes on board the above feedback, I might even mark it!
A Level Sociology Families and Households Revision Bundle
Question 1 in the A level sociology families and households ‘topics’ exam will be out of 10 marks ask you to ‘outline and explains’ two things (reasons/ ways/ criticisms for example).
In order to get into the top mark band* for these questions you need to do the following:
Outline two distinct ‘ways’, and they need to be different to each other – an obvious strategy here for one ‘way’ to focus on women’s roles, and the other on men’s roles.
For each ‘way you need to clearly show how a change to a gender role has affected families, increasing diversity.
For each reason/ criticism you need to explain the effect showing ‘chains of causality’.
An example of how you might develop ‘way one’ above.
Reason 1 – Changing gender roles
The fact that women want to establish careers first means they put off having babies
Girls have overtaken boys in education, most people in university are girls and most households are dual income households.
This has led to a decline of the traditional expressive role and the idea of women as carers, such that most women now choose to spend their 20s building their careers and have babies in their 30s, meaning there is only time for one or two children rather than two or three. Some women, of course, remain childless.
This is reflected in the Total Fertility Rate – for women in their 30s has declined, but it has actually increased for women in their 30s and 40s because of the above changes.
Other changes to family life include an increase in divorce as women are no longer dependent on men financially – which means an increase in single parent families, mainly headed by women, and single person households mostly inhabited by men, following divorce.