THAT Politics 20 marker

June 15, 2021
Category: Blog,Politics

There’s a slight change, a new option in Higher Politics this year. Centres, should they wish, can now choose to compare the Scottish, UK or US political system with that of the People’s Republic of China.

I wonder how many will?!

Can I suggest a different, and I’ll postulate a more popular, amendment?

Do something about THAT 20 mark source question?

To what extent does the evidence contained in Sources …… support the viewpoint?

It was never designed to be a 20 mark question.

As recently as 2018 it was an 8 mark question, comprising 13% of the overall marks available.

With the 2019 revision a few more sentences and sources were added and it became a monster 20 marker, taking up 25% of the marks available!

It is clearly one of the ‘deal breaker’ questions for candidates.

Yet, despite the fact the bulk of Higher candidates are teenagers, one would need a degree in SQAology to decode the question!

For example, take the 2019 viewpoint.

It’s pretty obvious that there’s a few exaggerated and/or inaccurate statements in there. It would be reasonable to expect a candidate to spot these and point out, using the sources, that the viewpoint may or may not be supported by the evidence.

So, why complicate things?

The Marking Instructions ask the candidates to firstly dissect the viewpoint into two viewpoints (despite the fact that there are three sentences, not two).

And then, within viewpoint one, there are two components and within viewpoint two there are three components!

Why does it have to be this complicated?

At the very least, could there not be some signposting in the question? For example,

Viewpoint One: Component One

Viewpoint Two: Component Two etc

Let the youngsters know what it is they are supposed to be commenting on?

That would be an improvement.

The skill, after all, which is supposed to be being assessed is

interpreting and evaluating a wide range of electoral data

SQA Higher Politics Course Specification

Not “identifying two distinct viewpoints and breaking them down into components”

A better solution would be to come up with an entirely different kind of question, one intended for the current paper, not the old one.

CFE exam questions were supposed to be transparent to all (including learners and parents) which this one clearly isn’t but also capable of being written by practising teachers.

Has any teacher out there tried to write their own one of these questions?

Apart from the time involved, which is considerable, fitting the evidence into these artificially created viewpoints and components is soul destroying.

So, if there’s any Higher Politics powerbrokers looking in, come on, let’s do something about this question.

It’s not fair on the candidates and it’s damaging what is, on the whole, a very enjoyable course to teach.