Today is the day of A Level Politics Paper 1 in the November 2020 exam series. Hopefully, you’ve done your revision and are ready to go! Here’s my last-minute tips and tricks to help get those extra marks that helped me get an A* at A Level Politics!

1: Know your stuff

Make sure you’ve revised the right stuff, and you know which content to relate your essays to. The following lists are the topics that could come up in your exam.

AQA AS & A Level Politics

  • The British Constitution
  • Parliament
  • The Prime Minister & Cabinet
  • The Judiciary
  • Devolution
  • Democracy & Participation
  • Elections & referendums
  • Political parties
  • Pressure Groups
  • The EU

Edexcel A Level Politics

  • Democracy & Participation
  • Political Parties
  • Electoral Systems
  • Voting Behaviour & The Media
  • Conservatism
  • Liberalism
  • Socialism

2: Sources

Both AQA and Edexcel papers will make use of sources. For AQA, Section A question 4 & Section B question 8 for AS and Section B for A Level will use political information and you will have to analyse and evaluate arguments within the source to reach a conclusion. See this sample AQA A Level Paper 1 to see the wording of the question.

In Edexcel AS, questions 2 and 3 make use of sources, and you must only mention arguments in the sources; bringing in your own points will score you no marks.

In Edexcel A Level, questions 1(a) and 1(b) make use of sources, you must base your arguments on and use quotes from the source.

For both exam boards, you must reference the source otherwise you will get no marks. Furthermore, simply lifting text from the source will get you nowhere; quote the source and then explain its wider impact and context within politics.

REMEMBER: sources can be in the form of an article, a book, charts, graphs, reports and similar style data. If there are multiple data sources, be prepared to cross-reference ideas!

3: Synoptic Links (AQA A Level only)

An important element of the Politics A Level course is synoptic links – meaning that you need to link ideas together from across the subject. In your AQA A Level Politics Paper 1, you need to explain using ideas other than just UK government and politics; try and bring in ideas from Political Ideas or make links to US government and politics. We’ve made an article on synoptic links, which you can find here!

4: Plan your essays

You shouldn’t just jump into writing your essays. Having a plan on what arguments to use, what case studies to back them up with and how to link the ideas together is the key to higher marks.

Simply make a table at the top of the page in your answer booklet, write a couple points for and a couple points against. Write down any relevant case studies and up to date examples to back them up! Failing to prepare means preparing to fail!

5: Up-to-date examples

Politics is the most up-to-date subject out there: the case studies are changing while you are writing your exams! Whether it’s the EU taking the UK to court, or a Conservative backbench rebellion, breaking news can be used as examples in the exam!

6: Plan your time

Whilst 2 hours (or 3 hours for AQA AS) can seem like an eternity, once you get into writing your essay the time will fly by! Make sure you set a time limit and stick to it! We’d recommend spending the following times on each question:

Edexcel AS Politics Paper 1

  • Section A question: 20 minutes
  • Section B question: 20 minutes (inc. reading time for source)
  • Section C question: 45 minutes

Edexcel A Level Politics Paper 1

  • 30-mark essays: 45 minutes (inc. reading time for source)
  • 24-mark essays: 30 minutes

AQA AS Politics Paper 1

  • 6-mark questions: 10 minutes
  • 12-mark questions: 25 minutes (inc. reading time for source)
  • 25-mark essays: 45 minutes

AQA A Level Politics Paper 1

  • 9-mark questions: 12 minutes
  • 25-mark essays: 42 minutes (inc. reading time for source)

More resources

Revision Tools: checklists and tips on synoptic links
AQA Politics Page
Edexcel Politics Page