A Level Politics

Improving your grade

Exam technique: the decline in political participation

Posted by Matt Walker on October 5, 2011


Recently I set my students a full exam question for Edexcel Unit 1, encompassing the short, medium and long answers, looking at democracy and participation. The 10-mark part (b) question was, “In what ways has political participation in the UK declined in recent years?”

The first thing to note is that this question is asking you how participation has declined, not why it has declined. Failure to appreciate this distinction will cost you valuable marks.  Neil McNaughton’s AS level textbook points out that participation has declined in 3 main ways:

1)  Voter turnout

2) Party membership

                                               3) Partisan dealignment

For this type of question, 7 marks are awarded for Knowledge and Understanding (AO1), and 3 marks are allocated for your level of explanation (AO2). Good exam technique to access all these marks is:

              1)  Write 3 paragraphs

              2)  Focus on a major point in each paragraph, e.g. voter turnout

              3)  Include 2-3 facts in each paragraph – e.g. levels of turnout across a number of elections

              4)  Explain your facts by linking to the question – e.g. why voter turnout is an important indicator of levels of participation.


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