I'm a highly experienced and successful independent A-level Philosophy tutor for the AQA board's
I'm a full-time, independent philosophy tutor; so my time is devoted solely to my private students: I'm not squeezing you in at the end of a hard day, or at weekends!
I'm frequently asked "What do you need to do to get an A or A* at A-level Philosophy?". It is in answering that question that I've devised, and developed over the years, my recommended tuition system.
It is a well-established fact of educational psychology that relatively little information is absorbed in lectures or watching instructional videos.
Rather, genuine progress is made through the virtuous cycle of reading, thinking and writing about some topic; and then reflecting on the detailed, contextual comments of an expert.
Occasional tutorials can then be inserted, strategically, when the learning need dictates. This also has the advantage of making the tuition budget go much further!
The system of A-level philosophy tuition I recommend, for both the AS and the A-level, comprises four elements:
The philosophy essay writing masterclass imparts the core knowledge and skills required to answer
the AQA's exam questions in the appropriate style. This includes an introduction to the examiners'
A01, A02 and A03 assessment objectives.
My student's essay writing skills are then honed by writing a series of essays, carefully selected to develop their understanding of each topic systematically.
Each essay is returned with:
So each essay is a rich, formative learning experience: the breakdown against assessment objectives
is particularly useful in showing where effort must be concentrated.
We have occasional tutorials, of course; to introduce a new topic, or to discuss an essay that has not gone too well: but the bulk of the student's efforts should be on developing the core skill of writing exam-style essays.
As the exams approach, we switch to hand-written, timed essays under exam conditions, addressing mock questions
The AQA's AS level philosophy "introduces candidates to a number of key philosophical themes, which provide a
broad introduction to the study of philosophy".
The AS level comprises two units, each of which is divided into five themes:
Introduction to Philosophy 1 (PHIL 1)
I teach reason and experience, the compulsory unit, not only at A-level, but also to university undergraduates;
and these topics are at the heart of my own on-going philosophical research. So your AS level philosophy tuition is assured of making
a flying start!
Introduction to Philosophy 2 (PHIL 2)
The AQA's A2 previous level philosophy enabled candidates to develop further their understanding of key philosophical concepts,
themes, texts and techniques. A2 candidates are given the opportunity to specialise by selecting two key themes
to study in depth and focusing on philosophical problems through the study of a chosen key text.
The A2 level also comprises two units. The first is divided into five key themes, the second into five philosophical texts:
Key Themes in Philosophy (PHIL 3)
Philosophical Problems (PHIL 4)
A-level philosophy revision, like all of your exam preparations, should be driven by the
AQA assessment objectives: A01, A02 & A03.
I therefore recommend organising your revision materials — including notes from books, classes, podcasts, videos etc. — into sections for each of the objectives.
If you subsequently discover that, on a certain topic, you have little material to help you satisfy one or more of the objectives, then you know where to concentrate your effort.
Generally, when revising for A-level philosophy, students tend to neglect A03 at the expense of the other two objectives.