How to Write A Level Sociology Essays

This short booklet contains an overview of how to plan and write 30 mark essays for the AQA A level paper 1 exam (education and theory and methods). The same structures shown in these plans could easily be transferred to any crime, or theory, or topics essays. 

The booklet contains the following seven full essays/ essay plans:

These appear first in template form, then with answers, with the skills employed shown in colour. Answers are ‘overkill’ versions designed to get full marks in the exam.

1.   Assess the Functionalist View of the Role of Education in Society (30) – Quick plan

2.   Assess the Marxist view of the role of education in society (30) – Detailed full essay

3.   Assess the extent to which it is home background that is the main cause of differential education achievement by social class (30) – Detailed full essay

4.   Assess the view that education policies since 1988 have improved equality of educational opportunity (30) – Quick plan

5.   Assess the view that the main aim of education policies since 1988 has been to raise overall standards in education.’ (30) - Quick plan

6.   Assess the claim that ‘ethnic difference in educational achievement are primarily the result of school factors’ (30) - Detailed full essay  

7.   Assess the view that in school processes, rather than external factors, are the most important in explaining differences in educational achievement (30) – detailed essay – Quick plan.

A Note on Colour Coding the Skills

In the answer section – I’ve shown the different skills in glorious colour:

·         Knowledge = blue

·         Analysis = green

·         Evaluation = red

·         Intro/ conclusions/ item (application) = orange

These answers have been written to demonstrate how you might answer a selection of 30 mark essays in the A level sociology AQQ education and theory and methods exam. In the exam you would be expected to spend about 45 minutes on these essays, and as a general rule, you need to make 3-5 points and evaluate thoroughly to get into the top mark band.

NB - these essays do not address ‚the item‘ – in the actual exam, you will have to explicitly address a relatively short (typically 3-4 line item). This is a relatively easy thing to do and shouldn’t detract from the utility of these plans – the item will simply contain a brief reference to one or two things relevant to the question, and an evalution point. It’s assumed here that whatever is in the item is in the essay somewhere, so all you would need to do to make this an item based essay is add in 'as mentioned in item A‘ at the relevant point.

NB - this document is also included in the Sociology of Eduation revision bundle!