Paper 1 AS Culture, Morality, Arts and the Humanities

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    Paper 1: Culture, Morality, Arts and the Humanities: A guide

    As you can see from the grid below, General Studies at AS level is split into three units

    The first unit (as titled above) is an even split of multi-choice questions and a series of

    written tasks, totalling fifty marks for the module overall and one third of AS study. Thepassages range in subject content significantly. This is not possible to predict. However,there are hints and tips which can be applied to maximise your exam success, regardless

    of content. These are outlined below, along with more specific information about this

    module

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    Students are always given a passage to read. This passage should be approached

    carefully. For instance, here is part of the passage from the January 2006 paper

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    In the passage below, consider various things: What is the language of the passage like?

    Persuasive? Questioning? Colloquial? Formal? What evidence can you find? Look at thequestions at the end of this passage. Do note that there is always the need to refer to

    examples from the text. The paragraphs are always numbered and it is worth quoting

    examples and referring to where these examples can be found.

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    Look at the above questions. It is clear that they require certain skills in terms of analysis.

    Lets deal with 2.1 first. It is often the case that the first question will ask you to explain

    the meaning of something stressed in the passage, in this case maverick copper. Do takenote of the fact that there are two parts to the question, and the key word is explain.

    Sophisticated reasons are needed. The mark scheme indicates the following.

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    For the second question there is an emphasis on using examples from the text and

    original examples. Too often students do one and not the other. Do highlight the key

    terms in the question before you tackle it and be careful of just how many instructionsthere are for you to follow within a question. The mark scheme for this question indicates

    that

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    The crucial words in part 3 are TO WHAT EXTENT. This is crucial because the student

    has to assess carefully not only whether they agree or disagree, but also just how strongly.As the mark scheme points out

    As suggested above, these statements which students have to discuss are often

    deliberately sweeping, provocative and contain loaded terms. This is often a questionwhich does discriminate between the strongest students and those who are only ordinary.

    Make sure you dont accept things at face value! Try to question things where

    possible rather than blindly accepting everything!

    The Examiners report for this exam makes interesting reading. They point out that

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    Specifically, for question 2.1 the examiners note that

    Equally, on question 2.2 they say that

    As I indicated before, a difficult with the last question related to the failure of many

    candidates to really question the statement and its truthfulness.

    I have indicated below (taken from the BBC site) some of the ways

    in which examiners look to assess students skills in the exam, and

    what you should look to do

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    Marshalling EvidenceExaminers will be looking at the way you handle the data, concepts and opinions you

    are given on the question paper. Specifically, they will want to see how you:

    interpretthe material - what are the main points? Are there any underlying meanings?

    evaluate the material - how reliable is it?

    selectevidence - can you identify the points you need to answer the question?

    make links between ideas and information you receive

    draw conclusions from the material - can you make up your own mind about the

    issues?

    Developing a skill: reading and constructing anargument

    Thinking and Analytical SkillsThis is the overarching skill which examinerswill be looking for. It's about your ability tothink things through - analyse what you see,and develop your own clear line of thought.It involves:

    distinguishing between knowledge, truth and belief

    thinking critically, logically and constructively about

    significant problems

    examining questions from a broad standpoint - not

    just from one angle

    understanding how other people construct arguments

    constructing your own argument

    There is no set way to develop these skills.It's a process of reading, listening anddiscussing - keeping an open mind, andreflecting on what you receive.

    Communication SkillsExaminers will be looking at your ability tocommunicate:

    coherently and logically - is your writing structured

    so that your thinking is clear?

    accurately - do you help the reader with cleargrammar and accurate spelling?

    in a concise, relevantway - do you keep your writing

    brief and to the point?

    in an appropriate format and style - do you useorganisational devices to make your writing clear?

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    1. Use the paragraphs

    Paragraphs in written texts are used to divide the

    content or argument into sections, and you shouldtry to establish what each is doing.

    You need to look for the topic sentences.

    These show you the main points of theargument.

    When you've done that, try to reduce or

    summarise the argument.

    2. Look for statistical and factual evidence to back up the argument.

    Statistics can be very powerful when backing up an argument - they sound

    authoritative.

    Remember, though, that a writer will only select the facts he/she wants -

    they're never the whole story!

    3. Look for case studies, examples and reinforcement.

    A writer will use examples - a personal story.

    Often the writer will simply re-state a point to drive it home.

    He/she might use strong, emotive language to try and impress.

    4. Look at the conclusion.

    The way a writer concludes a piece will tell you a lot about the argument.

    It might be balanced and open, or closed and one-sided.

    So, the process again:Paragraph topics

    Factual evidenceExamples and illustrationConclusion

    How can I practise this skill?

    You need to practise the approach so that it becomes routine. Try it on several short

    pieces of text. Good places to look are:

    newspaper editorials

    newspaper letter pages

    articles in magazines

    speeches in parliament or at party conferences. Try BBC Parliament.

    Use highlighter pens - they're quicker than writing lots of notes, and they allow you to

    section the text more effectively.

    Try downloading and editing a piece of text on a PC. How quickly can you edit itdown?

    The hardest one of all - try arguing your own viewpoint in a reasonable, evidence-based

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    way. Difficult isn't it?