How to get an A/A* in A-Level Politics
Updated: Sep 14, 2020
A-Level politics is a combination of critical thinking, historical concepts and current events. You need to be able to discern the most important information and pick apart key arguments; as well as understand the development of political concepts and how they relate to the modern world (through examples and current affairs.) As an essay based subject, it requires attention to detail, due to the ever changing nature of the political landscape. What is most fascinating is that it puts politics into perspective and can help you better understand what policies and governing legal system you are living under!
Here are a friends top tips on how you can work towards achieving an A/A* in politics!
1) Keep up to date with the news - You need to use a lot of cases and examples in essays, sometimes if you don’t have recent cases it can diminish your point and your knowledge on an issue does not seem up to date. So, if there are any developments in cases note them down and be sure to go through old notes every so often to see if anything can be amended. (For example whilst I was studying politics, the infamous Brexit case was ever changing and that meant going back and updating my notes.) It might be easier to keep a digital document full of cases for each topic, which means you have a database of examples and these examples can be easily updated.
2) Plan practise questions - Make sure you check what exam board you’re doing, so the format of questions are correct. But try and plan questions as revision because you can get through a lot of content, whilst also thinking about technique for the question, but it saves you from writing an entire essay which can take up more time. My teacher always used to say, writing practise questions is a good idea, but a well-planned question is as equally as effective for revision. Plus it helps those who find it hard to be concise in essays, as plans force you to only note down the key points and examples.
3) Answer practise questions - I know this is a generic tip for all subjects, but as cliche as it is, the best way to go perfect your essay technique is to practise. My teachers were always happy to mark these answers, but even if your teachers aren’t available to mark them, double check them against a mark scheme or get a classmate to look over them because they’re more likely to see the flaws in your answer.
4) Try and create a summary sheet for each topic - Because as important as dates and statistics and examples are, it’s going to be nearly impossible to remember every single one. However creating one summary sheet for each topic means that:
A) You’re looking over content and deciding what is most important, which is also helping you to revise
B) It condenses down your notes
C) They becomes particularly useful around exam season because you have essential ‘crib sheets’ with only the key notes on.
5) Watch American (or your relevant country's) News Channels - This obviously depends on whether your course requires you to study American politics, but mine did and I found this really useful. Just like watching PMQs is a good idea for UK politics, you also need to be aware of current affairs in the US. Such as election updates, recent events and any prominent figures that are in the news. This can help put the American politics system into perspective and help you to understand it better. I watched CNN because it was free and easily accessible, but obviously there are other sources of American news. Also it’s something quick you can do, perhaps in the mornings for 10 minutes or before you go to bed.
These tips are not here to guarantee you an A/A* in your exams but to help you structure your revision and just general A-level studies from the get go to help you work towards achieving those higher grades!
Hi, I'm Aba and I started The Student Scope to give other students advice on their academic journey. Have a look around and enjoy!