This live stream answered last minute questions and covered final top tips for achieving high grades in the Philosophy exam:
It is impossible to accurately predict exam questions due to the magnitude of questions the exam board could ask. They may ask questions that have previously featured in the first or second year exams (even the exact same wording could be used) or they may ask questions on areas of the specification never asked before. All we know is that certain topics have been removed for the 2022 exams which narrows the field of possible questions somewhat. With this in mind, these predictions are just my own musings and may be completely wrong, so you must still revise all areas on the AI. But if I was going to write an exam paper this is how I would do it…
- Aristotle’s PM e.g “Critically assess the Prime Mover and how it connects to the final cause.” or a comparison question between Plato and Aristotle either on FOG vs PM or reason vs senses e.g “Plato’s reliance on reason explains the nature of reality more clearly than Aristotle’s use of senses.” Discuss.
- A lot of questions have been asked over the years on Teleological and Cosmological so most avenues have already been covered. What has not been asked before is “An a posteriori approach is more persuasive than an a priori approach for proving God’s existence.” This however seems quite a mean question as you would have to know Ontological (a priori) and this was removed from this year’s exam. To be on the safe side I would still revise Ontological briefly. A more likely question I think would be “The logical fallacies in the *Teleological/ Cosmological* argument cannot be overcome. ” Discuss
- “To what extent does Hick’s reworking of the Irenaean theodicy give purpose to natural evil in enabling human beings to reach divine likeness.”
- Only one question has been asked over the years on the Nature of God therefore it could be on one of a number of areas: omnipotence, omniscience or omnibenevolence.
As you can see with my predictions, I think there is going to be one question on: Plato and/or Aristotle, Teleological and/or Cosmological, Problem of Evil and Nature of God. However once again I may be completely wrong and you may have no question on Nature of God (for example) and one question on Teleological and one question on Cosmological.
I hope your revision continues to go really well! Don’t forget to join me on tomorrow nights live stream starting at 6.00. Good luck on Thursday and remember you have worked very hard for the last two years so this is your time to show off!!
Predications are a really tricky business especially since we have very few past exam questions to go on. My advice is to make sure you know all topic areas as well as you can but for some of you knowing what came up in previous years might really help. So here is a table of all the first year questions asked so far and the questions from last year’s full A level. The importance of knowing the first year questions is because, whilst the same topic might come up in both years, it is extremely doubtful that the exact working will be the same.
What we can see from this is that Plato, Aristotle, Soul, Onto, POE and RL: 20th Century were not asked last year in the A Level exams.
So I think potential question areas could be:
The questions you will not be asked tomorrow are:
May 2017 First Year Paper:
May 2018 First Year Paper:
This means that:
- Soul, Mind, Body
Have all been asked. All that is missing is:
You could still get asked a question from any topic area, including areas already been asked above. The only thing we can be pretty certain of is that similar Q’s will not arise.
So last minute advice:
- Check out BBC for moral evil examples and recent events/ stats with the volcano eruption (natural evil)
- If you get a question on ‘Religious Language is meaningless’ do NOT talk about Falsification. The exam board has made it very clear that Flew never uses the word meaningless (only ‘vacuous’ yet in my book they pretty much imply the same thing) but still we follow the exam board!! I recommend Verification vs Language Games for a Q like this.
- Any RE question mention WJ’s four even just in passing
- Avoid numinous as an example, unless the question asks or if you have a specific case to draw upon, otherwise your answers will just be vague.
- Make sure you read questions carefully: psychology vs physiology could cost you dearly!
- If a comparison Q is asked e.g Plato vs Ari make sure you compare in every paragraph using language like: whereas, both, differing, similarly etc
- Whatever is mentioned specifically in Q, that is the start of every paragraph. So if mentioned ‘a priori is better than a post’ structure with Onto throughout.
- If Q on God’s attributes, focus on Q throughout, do not get side-lined on long rambling content.
Make sure you read: Panic “My Exam is Tomorrow!” Must Read for Philosophy (1st and 2nd Year).
Finally the more links to specific wording in the question and the more you argue, argue, argue, the better you will do! Get off the fence, raise discussion points, pass judgements and criticisms, defend arguments and evaluate everything. Control your content and need to regurgitate information, it is not how much you write/ remember it is what you do with it!
I will be thinking about you all tomorrow. First A Level exam for new spec – let’s make it a good one!!
I am starting to think that my students think I am Mystic Meg and have God on speed dial giving me inside tips. Because if I had a pound for every time I have been asked for my predictions over the years I could have paid for a luxury holiday to Barbados with a yacht…and cocktails.
The simple answer is – “I have no idea!” Why? Because this is the first time the full A Level has been sat. This means there are no previous questions to rule out and no lessons to be learnt. We are all going in blind!
It is slightly easier this year as we have one round of questions and the examiner’s feedback (see: Examiner’s Report 2017: What can we learn?).
Last year’s question paper:
Now don’t get excited! This does not mean that Cosmological, Problem of Evil and Soul, Mind and Body won’t be on this year but it certainly is quite unlikely. However examiners love curve balls so they might throw one in just to catch you off guard. So you might for example get a question specifically on John Hick’s POE for example.
However I am thinking:
It’s that time again! This is my tenth exam season and let me tell you it doesn’t get easier. Every year is a manic scrabble to get the A2 students ready with all their revision materials, last minute tips (and endless mock exams) and final words of wisdom (hopefully!) For the first years it is now a mad rush to finish the spec in time for the first exam. So here are my last minute tips for Philosophy…
Evaluation panic you can always use:
- God of Gaps: Having a gap in knowledge and filling it with God. This could even be used more creatively with Plato and Aristotle e.g. what sustains the four causes (potential to actual) = Prime Mover. Prime Mover is used to fill a gap in knowledge
- Leap of Logic: Drawing conclusions with limited or no logic/ evidence
- Reductio ad Absurdum: reducing logical statements to illogical conclusions (e.g. design in world = God designer)
- Burden of Proof: whoever is making the claim must back up with proof. So does Plato provide enough proof for WOF – yes/ no discuss in answer
- Ockham’s razor: go with the simplest solution E.g. St Theresa had a vision or was it just caused by malaria? What is the simplest solution?
- You must use critical words throughout your answer to emphasize your evaluation (see to help: Adding the ‘critical’ to your critical analysis: Developing A02). If you don’t use critical words you are only stating perspectives not evaluating them. And you cannot ‘name dump’ e.g. “Stephen Fry questions how can God exist when he allows children to die of cancer. This is a convincing argument.” This is not evaluation! You must use the special word of ‘because’.
- I recommend that my students do not use ‘I think’ as it does not read academically. Instead channel your views/arguments but use other language such as ‘one might argue’
- Don’t forget you get a lot of marks for evaluation (15 marks first year and 24 marks second year). Have you put 15 different evaluative points in your essay using critical words with ‘because’? Have you defended against the criticism and then weighed up whether the original criticism or defence is stronger?