Advice on AS 30 mark Questions

Advice on 30 mark AS question on elections

Question 4 on AS-Level Paper 1 is worth 30 marks and must be completed in 45 minutes. It takes the form of a brief quotation, stating a point of view on a particular topic, and asking how far you agree with it. You are given a choice of two questions; you should answer one.

The influence of the media is the most important factor that determines the success or failure of a political party.'

How far do you agree with this view of what determines the success or failure of a political party? [30 marks]. In this answer you must refer to at least two political parties and consider this view and the alternative to this view in a balanced way.

Your answer will take the form of an essay in which you consider both sides of the argument. This question tests all three Assessment Objectives, with marks divided equally between them. Examiners are looking for comprehensive and precise knowledge and understanding of the topic, used to support a reasoned argument. You must make convincing connections between different ideas and concepts. Your arguments should be fully supported, and your essay should reach a conclusion in which you reflect both sides of the argument, in order to score highly for evaluation.

Take a few minutes to write a brief plan — this will give you a clear sense of direction and help you make sure you do not leave out anything important.

· Aim to write about six paragraphs, including a brief introduction and a fully supported conclusion. ('fully supported' means; the conclusion is not a surprise- no new points)

· Focus first on the factor in the question — the role of the media. In what ways is it important to the fortunes of political parties? Consider old and new media. Then compare it with other factors, such as the quality of party leadership and the extent to which parties are united or divided. The salience of the issues which dominated the election- ie Was May's poor result more about anger with the Conservative over the referendum or Labour's bolder programme- such as rail nationalisation.

  • You should consider the 2017 and 2019 election-

· In your conclusion, you should assess the overall contribution of the media to party success or failure. If you feel that another factor is more important, say so — with your reasons.

Here is an extract from the middle part of a student's answer. The student has already explained the ways in which the presentation of party leaders in the media is important to their success.

On the other hand, you should not assume that public image is always crucial in winning or losing elections. Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg briefly became very popular(Clegg-mania) and well known because he performed well in the first televised debate in the 2010 general election, but this did not have a major impact on the result. his party did well enough to enter a coalition with the Conservatives, but they actually ended up with five fewer seats than in 2005. A charismatic leader is not always the key to success. Voters can be influenced by issues as much as personalities. Margaret Thatcher trailed James Callaghan by twenty percentage points in opinion polls in the 1979 campaign, but her party won the election because the voters thought Labour had a poor record in government, particularly because of its failure to control the trade unions, whose strike action had crippled the country in the so-called Winter of Discontent.

· By saying 'On the other hand' at the start, the student indicates clearly to the examiner they are now going to look at the other side of the argument.

· The argument is supported with specific examples drawn from different elections and parties. This is important because the mark scheme states that you cannot reach Level 2 (7 to 12 marks out of 30) if you do not refer to at least two political parties.