There is one thing having to remember bucketloads of stuff for a sociology exam….and don’t get me wrong this is essential…but like Bananarama said “it ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it”.

How this knowledge is applied and how it is critically explored are vital and in my opinion more valuable.  In prepping for your exam take time to have a go x at some of the following…it is not an exhaustive list. .but some pearls of wisdom that could raise the quality of your answers:

1. Be a smart alec – near the close of an answer…step back and write a paragraph that goes outside the box. Relate issues like pomo and current affairs to the debate. Think about gender, class and ethnic implications.

2. Be methodical – if you can..include a para on methods. For example in a labelling and crime essay…find time to mention what methods they adopt and evaluate with a positivst critique.

3. PEELE it – this method helps to structure paragraphs in a way to impress any reader. Too often you will want to bang on about all you know  in a paragraph…and your point will not relate well to a question.  Examiners don’t like this…they like relevancy and clarity. Peele allows you to make a point (P)….which you then explain (E)…then elaborate with a study or example (E)..then you need to give a sentence that relates your point directly to the  question set (L)…and finally give an evaluation point (E). This ticks all the boxes foelr AO1 and AO2.

4. Locate the debate – for any questions that ask you to ‘assess’, take time to plan at least 2 sides to the debate….those for the statement and those against. Keep an eye open for the obvious angles like consensus v conflict. …structure v action….blame society v blame individual.  Focus on how views compare and contrast.

5. Contemporary schmempary – take time to question how relevant theories are today….don’t be afraid to have a pop at some of the older stuff.

6. Concepts – learn and play with these. True understanding arrives when you disembed a concept and make links to others in different contexts. Try a bit of creatve serendipity. Produce a series of cards with different concepts on each one….do these from across all topics. Check their meanings. Then select different cards at random and think of links between them. Don’t worry about how wacky this can get. …its the process that counts. Then take some past questions and pick different cards to link to it.

7. Structure – plan a structure for common questions. ..know what is essential and what to lose….especially with time constraints of exam. And make sure what you include you explain and relate to common debates.

8. Island hop – when revising..break up your notes into their subtopics…ie, role of religion…social change. .secularisation. There are distinct. ..explicit debates that each of these ‘islands’ relate to. But sometimes you need to sail between islands and bring back some useful booty from these locations. This goes down well with examiners. ..especially for the top band where you are awarded for thinking outside the box and making creative links.ie) in a question on role of religion as a conservative force….leave the role of religion island and go and grab some stuff on world rejecting sects as revolutionary..or how in terms of cultural defence for ethnic groups religion can be cohesive and conservative.

Right..enough for now.  Hope there’s something there are help you get it to the next level.

All the best.

Chris