Answering Questions at AS Level
When you are preparing for the AS examination, remember that you will be asked to engage in extended writing. For AQA and Edexcel, you will be expected to produce an answer that evaluate sources and also produce answers that incorporate your own knowledge. For OCR A, you will be expected to produce an essay-style answer based on your own knowledge.
The differences and similarities between GCSE and AS History are explained on pages 4 and 5 of your Britain 1945–2007 textbook.
Here are three examples of AS examination questions, one each in the style of Edexcel, AQA and OCR A.
In each case, an example answer is given. Within the body of the answer, there are comments that highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the answer.
At the end of each answer a mark is awarded.
E1 British Political History 1945–1990: Consensus and Conflict
The examination time is 1 hour 20 minutes.
Study Sources 1–6.
Answer Question 1, parts (a) and (b).
The 5.6% national swing from Labour to the Conservatives was the largest achieved by either party since 1945. The biggest swing was among skilled workers. These were precisely the people we had to win over from their lifelong socialist allegiances. They were confronted by the fundamental dilemma which faced Britain as a whole: whether to accept an ever greater role for government in the life of the nation, or to break free in a new direction.
From Path to Power by Margaret Thatcher, published in 1995. This was part of Mrs Thatcher’s memoirs
The Conservative victory of 1979 was won against a background of a decade of recession in which materialistic expectations were disappointed, and in four years out of ten, average real living standards did not rise at all. Labour suffered a massive haemorrhage of working class votes. Labour’s policies were out of tune with the aspiration of a significant section of its natural class base who wanted to own their own house and pay less income in tax.
From Mrs Thatcher’s Revolution by Peter Jenkins, published in 1987
The election campaign centred around two contrasting party leaders: the reassuring, avuncular figure of Jim Callaghan and the strident, aggressive style of a very confident Margaret Thatcher. Callaghan succeeded in keeping Labour’s manifesto moderate. But, in a sense, the manifesto mattered little. The scenario for the election had already been set, with the management of the economy and the role of the trade unions at the centre. There seemed to also be a feeling in the country that the time for real decision had come and that the electorate had had enough of minority government.
From Post-War Britain, 1945–1992 by Alan Sked and Chris Cook, published in 1993
Two decades on, the second Thatcher Government (1983–87) looks like the zenith of Thatcherism. This was the period of economic recovery when the economy finally emerged from the recession of the early 1980s. It was the heroic period of privatization, with the successful sell off of whole utilities. It was also the time of deregulation in the City of London – the so-called Big Bang – when quick fortunes were suddenly there for young men known to the press as ‘yuppies’. It was a time of tax cuts, easy credit and rapidly increasing spending power.
From Margaret Thatcher, The Iron Lady by John Campbell, published in 2003
During her second term the Thatcher government attempted to encourage more popular support for capitalism through widespread share ownership in a similar fashion to the extension of home ownership to low income families through the sale of council housing. For the ‘haves’ of the mid 1980s, real wages outstripped inflation. By the time the next election was called in 1987, Thatcher seemed to be delivering an economic miracle in the prosperous parts of the country.
From Britain 1945–12007 by Derrick Murphy and...
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