Question 1 A level Paper 1

Advice on A level Q1 Paper 1

Question 1 on A-Level Paper 1 gives you a choice of two 30-mark questions, to be completed in 45 minutes. Each question is based on one or possibly two sources. You may be given a piece of written text or a combination of text and data, such as a table, pie chart or graph.

This source is adapted from a blog by Dr Andrew Defty of the University of Lincoln, entitled `Press affiliation and the 2015 General Election', posted 19 November 2015.


Using the source, evaluate the view that the newspaper press does not have a major influence on voting behaviour. [30 marks]

In your response you must:

· compare the different opinions in the source

· consider this view and the alternative to this view in a balanced way

· use knowledge and understanding to help you to analyse and evaluate.

At the 2015 general election five out of 11 national daily newspapers supported the Conservative Party. Only two supported Labour, The Mirror and The Guardian. Conservative press share in 2015 was 71% compared to 15% for Labour and 5% for the Liberal Democrats. The overwhelming Conservative domination of the press would seem to reinforce the argument that press support is central to electoral fortunes.

However, it is hard to know exactly what influence, if any, the press has on voting behaviour. The newspaper one reads does not necessarily define one's political affiliation. There is clearly some link; polling data from 2015 clearly indicates that the majority of Guardian and Mirror readers vote Labour while the overwhelming majority of Telegraph and Daily Mail readers vote Conservative. However, a small proportion of Guardian readers vote Conservative (6%), and research shows that a large proportion of Labour MPs are avid readers of The Daily Mail, and not always to find out what the Conservative opposition thinks. The circulation of daily newspapers in the UK is in seemingly terminal decline. Out of a total electorate in May 2015 of around 45 million, the total daily circulation of national newspapers in the UK was around 7 million, one in six voters. It is hard to attribute significant political influence to newspapers which are read by such a small proportion of the voting public. However, while print sales are in decline this has been at least partly offset by the online presence of Britain's daily newspapers, which has grown significantly in recent years. Britain has a highly partisan press and in recent years political parties have spent a great deal of energy and money chasing the endorsement of various sections of the print media. However, there are significant questions about whether this has a significant or indeed any impact on electoral fortunes.'

Sources used in this type of question will contain different viewpoints. In this case, the source puts forward some evidence that newspapers played an important role in the 2015 general election, although overall it argues that the influence of the press on voting behaviour should not be exaggerated.

You are expected to write a comparative answer, in which you offer analysis and evaluation related to information drawn from the source. The question assesses all three Assessment Objectives, with the marks divided equally between them. If you do not provide any comparative analysis of the source, or you do not consider both views in a balanced way, you cannot get higher than the top of Level 2 — a maximum of 12 marks out of 30.

· Don't start writing straight away. Take a few minutes to read through the source carefully, annotating it with comments that may form part of your answer.

· At the highest level, examiners are looking for thorough and in-depth knowledge and understanding.

· Make sure that you consider both views presented in the extract.

· Finally, provide a conclusion in which you reach an overall judgement on the two different views.

Here is an example taken from the middle part of a student's answer to this question.

The author shows that there is a strong correlation between the voting habits of many people and their choice of newspaper. he does show that there are some exceptions to this. however, the examples he gives are not necessarily very significant; the six per cent of Guardian readers who vote Conservative, mentioned here, are not a very large proportion. It is more striking that many Labour MPs read the Daily Mail, a traditional Conservative-voting newspaper, but they may of course also read other media with a different political slant. It certainly seems unlikely, whatever their motives may be for reading the Daily Mail, that it affects their political views. These examples do not necessarily invalidate the basic point, that most people tend to choose papers which fit with their political preferences.

· This is an effective paragraph because it links together relevant pieces of information taken from within the source.

· The student does not just extract information, but offers possible explanations of the points made in the source. The paragraph is clearly part of a reasoned, analytical answer.

· The student offers a judgement on the evidence presented in the source. This would score highly for evaluation.