Humanities: Answering 12 Mark Questions

How to answer 12-mark questions in a Humanities GCSE.

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  • Created by: Myst
  • Created on: 28-04-11 20:05


 In the 2010 Humanities GCSE, the system for marking 12-mark questions was tiered - depending on the depth, analysis and thought of your answer, that was your tier. With an initial read, the examiner decides your level (Level 1 being 1-3 marks, Level 4 being 10-12 marks) then reads further into your answer to decide whether to move up or down. This was the grading system:

LEVEL 1 (1-3 marks): A simple answer, showing little thought. A brief statement based on sources or your own knowledge.

LEVEL 2 (4-6 marks): A descriptive answer based on sources/your own knowledge. Evidence is given, but not developed.

LEVEL 3 (7-9 marks): A detailed answer, using relevant examples and generalising sources. Identifying a strand in the question, and developing it.

LEVEL 4 (10-12 marks): A clear answer confronting the question, which is sustained, developed and analytical. The answer is judged on breadth (showing a wide understanding) or depth (showing your thought.)

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Essay type one: conventional

Given a list of things to include but only have to choose two and explain them, e.g. paragraph for each one.

For example:
From your own studies, explain how conflicts can be resolved. You could include: pacifism and non-violence; negotiation and arbitration; force and sanctions. (12)

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Convential Essay: good answer

Good answer:
* Conflicts can be resolved using pacifism and non-violence by...
* Paragraph on pacifism, example of pacifist (e.g. Ghandi)
* Paragraph on non-violence, example of non-violence
* Use humanities terminology (the correct terms for certain situations)

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Essay type two: comparitive

Produce a paragraph for each side of the argument, e.g. explaining two views about a moral issue (euthanasia, abortion, etc.)

For example:
Choose a moral or social issue. Write a short essay to explain at least two different views on the issue. (12)

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Comparitive Essay: good answer

Good answer:
* Abortion is an issue because... (name the issue)
* Paragraphs on different views (political, religious, social, geographical)
* Explain why people hold these views (e.g. this religion doesn't believe in abortion because they believe in the sanctity of life. etc.)
* Use humanities terminology (the correct terms for certain situations)

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Essay type three: source-based

Ensure you use the sources to answer to get top marks. (e.g. in Source A it says that...)

For example:
Using Source A, describe what life was like for people in Britain during the 1960's. (12) (NOT an official question)

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Source-Based Essay: good answer

Good answer:
* In Source A it shows that...
* Build on what you know from the source, no matter how obvious
* If it is a written source, write paragraphs on the different statements made. If it is a picture, comment on the caption and use your own knowledge.
* Use humanities terminology (the correct terms for certain situations)

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Whenever you answer a 12-mark question, remember these crucial points:

  • Opening sentence should be a reframing of the question (e.g. 'Conflicts can be resolved using pacifism because...)
  • Remember when writing paragraphs to put your point ('pacfism can resolve conflicts because...'), evidence ('this was proven by Ghandi when...'), and explanation ('Ghandi's work meant that...')
  • You should always have a mini-conclusion at the end of each paragraph, summing up your answer: 'This shows nurture is important in shaping who we are because (your answer).'
  • Use the correct terminology!
  • Use connectives (in addition; in contrast; as a result; therefore; this shows that)
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too vague

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