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Death and Afterlife: Improve your Essay Technique

Please comment on each section of the essay with your feedback. What is good about it, needs work, could be improved and how, how does it meet the requirements of the mark scheme and your general thoughts?

‘Everyone deserves to be saved and go to Heaven’ Discuss.

Taken from Matthew 25, when discussing the afterlife Jesus states ‘Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life’. This clearly eludes to a Divine judgement about which afterlife is suitable to each individual. But how is this decided? Is it possible to change your afterlife or is it unescapable? This essay will explore why not everyone deserves to be saved and go to Heaven and what other options there are.

St Augustine: Improve Your Essay Technique

Please comment on each section of the essay with your feedback. What is good about it, needs work, could be improved and how, how does it meet the requirements of the mark scheme and your general thoughts?

‘Augustine’s view of human nature is deeply pessimistic’ Discuss

St Augustine of Hippo based his pessimistic theology around the creation story of Genesis 1-3, focusing specifically on the state of human nature before and after the Fall. His literalist interpretation of original sin led him to conclude that the human will became damaged and divided, and he is pessimistic in suggesting that human nature, as a result, is dominated by concupiscence. This essay will therefore be arguing that Augustine’s view of human nature is deeply pessimistic, perhaps straying from the true doctrines of Christianity.

“Sssshhh we can’t talk about Sex!” Pointers to discuss in A2 Application Questions

I appreciate that writing application essays is very difficult: you will be juggling two topics with a issue, whilst desperately trying to answer the question, as well as evaluating all points and ideas = not easy. I know this. But what might help focus your mind is a few discussion pointers to consider when evaluating and discussing sex ethics. This will help you avoid writing a vague essay that never really delves into anything specific.

 Homosexuality:

  • Discuss the different laws and punishments for homosexuality (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-25927595 – I show my students this link showing which countries still have the death penalty and imprisonmeScreen Shot 2016-04-02 at 20.30.46.pngnt for homosexuality)
  • Be aware of the changes to civil partnership laws
  • Stats relating to Gay Pride, LGBT community
  • Changes in this country over the years: introduction of homosexual characters on TV and how this portrayal has impacted people’s perspectives
  • Influence of social media i.e celebrities discussing their sexual orientation and responses

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“What would Kant say about Abortion? Who knows!” Tackling the Application Essays (Old Spec)

How is your juggling technique? Well that is exactly what you need to do in these essays.juggling-too-much

You not only have to consider the topic but how it applies to an ethical issue, whilst at the same time taking into consideration the specific wording of the question. Hence why  application topics are left until the end!

You  need a lot of skills and understanding to be able to write a coherent essay that actually answers the question. Unfortunately you are pretty much guaranteed that at least two out of your four questions in Summer will be application in some disguise (if not all four questions when considering the part b) discussion questions).

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

There are a few ways to ‘predict’ exam questions within R.S.a-spooky-photograph-of-a-crystal-ball-and-a-woman-s-hands

  1. Look at the past 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 as examiners often just add the words ‘explain’ or  ‘compare’ in front.

E.g

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If you do not have access to either of these go to the exam board website. So in this case go to OCR: http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/as-a-level-gce-religious-studies-h172-h572/ for all mark schemes, past questions, examiners comments and specification.

Finally for some topics there is a certain style of question for part a)’s. This is certainly the case with the application topics: abortion, euthanasia, genetic engineering and war and peace.

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Step by Step Paragraph Structure

When writing an essay, once you have mastered the structure in one paragraph, it is achievable in all paragraphs and all essays. But mastering that first paragraph is not easy. Often students over complicate the structure or try to cram too much into one paragraph. Keep it simple!

Here is a snapshot of an introduction that really works – it answers the question (Aquinas/ successful), it shows evidence of wider reading (dictionary definition), it also shows knowledge (Aquinas quote/natural law)- it captures and holds your attention as a reader. But is also quite sophisticated, for example: the quote and the definition are linked together.

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