Consulting the Crystal Ball: Predicting your A2 Ethics Questions (Old Spec)

There is one look I am very familiar with on the approach to the exams: the panicked eyes of students that just Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 20.46.38.pngwant to know “what do you think the questions will be in the exam?” What I want to say is “How do I know???”…however to ease your panic there are a few ways to ‘predict’ exam questions within R.S (don’t forget this is based on faith not science).

  1. Look at the past exam questions asked over the years (this gives you patterns, similar wordings and ultimately there are only so many questions the examiners can ask)
  2. Examine the specification closely (this is what your teacher will teach you from – the checklist). You must know every bullet point because examiners often just add the words ‘critically assess’ or  ‘evaluate’ in front.

E.g Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 21.36.42

If you do not have access to either past exam questions or specifications go to the exam board website. So in this case go to OCR: for all mark schemes, past questions, examiners comments and specification.

Finally for some topics there is a certain style of essay question. Conscience (religious perspectives vs non religious perspectives) and Freewill (freewill vs determinism) always wants you to compare arguments – who is more convincing?

Application Topics: Sex and Relationships and Environment and Business have a level of predictability as well. There are generally three types of questions:

  1. Specific to application: ‘Critically assess issues surrounding Environmental Ethics’. (I advise with this question picking two topics and exploring their approaches to the different issues, weighing up which is best throughout in relation to issues such as  deforestation, extinction, soil erosion etc.)
  2. Specific to both the topic and application issue: ‘Evaluate how a follower of Kantian ethics might approach issues surrounding contraception’. (Using Kantian ethics as the structure of the paragraphs -link each point specifically to contraception. The ‘issues’ include spread of STI’s etc.)
  3. Specific to topic and general application: ‘To what extent is Natural Law useful when dealing with  issues surrounding sex and relationships’. (I advise that as no specific issue has been identified to select one to two issues with sex and relationships e.g. contraception, extra marital sex etc. and keeping Natural Law as the structure of paragraphs, linking each paragraph theme to an issue) 

So whilst there could potentially be a hundred variations of questions, you can pretty much predict the style of questions and thus areas to revise i.e. know what Natural Law says about different sex and relationship issues or how different topics approach Business Ethics.

Note: If the question asks you to identify the ‘issues’, ‘dilemmas’ or ‘problems’ with an ethical application topic the question wants you to discuss specific issues. So for sex and relationships that would include: homosexuality, pre marital sex, extra marital sex and contraception.


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