How to answer a source question Edexcel UK politics, papers 1 and 2
Examiners' Advice Edexcel
Evaluation (reaching a judgement) is arguably the most difficult area, particularly when you first start to study politics. AO3 is all about weighing up arguments, deciding and clearly stating which argument you find most convincing and why (don’t expect the examiner to ‘read between the lines’). If you don’t have a strong view, pretend that you do! To get a high mark for AO3 you need to think about essay structure. If you write the first half of your essay arguing for the claim in the question and the second half arguing against it, and then tell the examiner in the conclusion which side you agree with, there will only be AO3 in the conclusion. This is not enough: you need to show it in every paragraph, and that means having a debate within each section of your essay.
You need to be as up to date as possible with your examples. Inevitably, your textbook will not be completely current. This shows the great importance of keeping up with current affairs. For example, in a question on the significance of opinion polls, writing about the accuracy of the exit poll in the 2019 general election could significantly improve the quality of your essay. Examples should be relevant and explained, but not too long.
Using the source, evaluate the view that the outcomes of general elections are stable and predictable.
Some people claim that success in a general election for a political party depends on stable and predictable farces. Few seats change hands in a general election and voting patterns are predictable and constant. In studies of voting behaviour factors such as an individual’s class and family background combined with the area in which they live all merge together to provide a clear indication of the way an individual will vote. On this basis, opinion polls accurately indicate the outcome of a general election. When many people are asked, they readily identify with both a specific class and endorse the policies of a major political party. The dice is loaded from the start and outcomes of general elections are all too predictable and fixed.
This introduction directly addresses the sources and sums up the arguments. Tip Use 'This source argues.... According to the source......'
It also shows the direction or view the answer will be taking.ie that elections are more unpredictable. This will earn AO3 marks from the beginning rather than leaving it until the conclusion. Show you are making a judgement- use
However the concept of social factors dictating how people vote is no longer a convincing concept due to the fact that according to the source that new factors are taking over and finding new way to influence voting. This is partly to do with the the idea that the country is going through a period of partisan dealignment giving way for factors such as 'capturing ideas and having media support' as well as '2017 illustrating the importance of age and education' these variable factors which are less stable and predictable. However a limitation of this argument in the source is the fact that 2015 General Election saw 111 seat changes and 2017 had 70. 111 is over 1 sixth of the seats in the House of Commons. This massive change was mainly due to the Scottish National Party acquiring 56 out of 59 seats. This statistic clearly shows the weakness of the argument that voting patterns are predictable and constant, therefore decreasing the validity of the view at hand. This is given further emphasis by the source stating that 2017 showed that opinion polls 'are no longer good indicators'.
This and example of a counter-point paragraph where the student shows that they are using the source effectively by referencing it to illustrate their point. Also, the student is considering the different opinion of social factors (comparative analysis – AO2). to the view they considered in the first paragraph (not shown). Additionally, in the opening sentence they add an AO3 judgement. Tip- use 'However....' to begin counter points. Also remember that counter augments are in agreement with the overall argument of your essay, so you are showing a critical response to the points you consider weak.