In AS Sociology examinations, different types of question are used to assess your abilities and skills.
Data response questions
All questions for the AQA AS Level specifications are data response questions.
Generally you will be given two pieces of data. These are known as Items A and B and are likely to be in the form of text, graphs, charts etc. Data response questions are organised in six parts with marks progressing upwards 2, 4, 6, 8, 20 and 20.
These parts are directly or indirectly related to the Items.
The organisation of data response questions in Units 1 and 2 is fairly predictable and the format will generally tend to follow this pattern;
(a) ‘Explain what is meant by’ followed by a sociological term.
(b) Suggest or identify two factors, examples, differences, ways, etc.
(c) Suggest three ways, etc.
(d) Identify and briefly describe, explain, discuss, etc.
Parts (e) and (f) are short essays worth 20 marks each. It is important to devote as much time to each of these as you have done to the section a–d. Often these questions will ask you to use material from the Items in your essay. If you ignore this instruction, you will not be able to gain full marks.
Unit 3 of the AQA AS Level specifications has a slightly different variation on the data response question. You will be given three Items of information and the format of questions will follow this pattern:
(a) You will be asked for the ‘name given to’ a particular sociological method described in the question for 1 mark.
(b) This question may be in two or three parts and will ask you to examine a piece of data associated with a piece of research. You are likely to be asked to identify the method used and problems associated with the research. This will be worth 5 marks.
(c) This question will be in two or three parts and will ask questions relating to another one of the Items, e.g. you may be asked to explain what is meant by sociological terms used in the Item. This will be worth 6 marks.
(d) For 8 marks, you will be put into a specific research situation (e.g. research on boys’ behaviour in schools) and asked to identify and explain two practical problems.
Parts (e) and (f) are short essays worth 20 marks each. As in the Units 1 and 2, it is important to devote as much time to each of these as you do to parts a–d. These questions are also likely to ask you to specifically use the information in the Items and/or to use studies with which you are familiar. If you ignore these instructions, you will not be able to gain full marks.
Unit 2532 of the OCR AS Level specifications also assesses using a data response question but this is different in format to the AQA versions. You will be given a piece of data which may be in the form of text, photographs, graph, chart, etc. The question is organised into four parts with marks progressing 12, 12, 26 and 40.
These parts are directly or indirectly related to the Item.
The organisation of this data response is fairly predictable and the format will generally tend to follow this pattern:
(a) Identify and/or briefly explain the meaning or function of a sociological term or concept used in the Item for 12 marks.
(b) Identify and briefly explain two ways, trends, examples of a sociological process, etc. for 12 marks.
(c) Outline and comment on two ways in which a sociological process occurs for 26 marks.
Part (d) is a short essay asking you to ‘discuss’ a particular issue relating to the individual and society.
Structured essay questions
OCR Unit 2533 Culture and Socialisation offers you a choice of structured essay questions. These are organised into two parts. Part (a) will ask you to ‘identify and explain two ways, aspects, differences, etc. of a sociological problem relating to the option for 20 marks. Part (b) is an essay question asking you to ‘outline and discuss a view’ relating to the option for 40 marks.
OCR Unit 2534 Sociological Research Skills is a combination of essay and data response questions. You will be given two pieces of information. Item A is likely to be a proposal for a research design. Question part (a) will ask you to define a key term or concept used in that design for 8 marks whereas part (b) will ask you ‘identify and explain the main weaknesses of the research design’ for 35 marks.
Question part (c) will ask you to summarise in your own words quantitative or qualitative data contained in Item B for 14 marks. Part (d) is an essay question asking you to ‘outline in detail and briefly assess’ a method that could have been used to research the data in Item B.