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How important is it to stay up to date with current affairs when studying for an A Level in Government and Politics?

The first priority for any Government and Politics student should be to familiarise themselves with the syllabus, whatever that might be depending on the exam board. You cannot do well without completing the necessary reading and writing, which will concern itself largely with a study of political institutions and the key thinkers behind different ideologies.


​Yet the top students will also keep a keen eye on the news, identifying the ideas and concepts that they learn about in political developments in the real world. This is especially important with exam boards which include a synoptic paper, where theory is applied by the student to real-world political examples, but I still maintain that any student of Politics should look to contextualise what can often be very abstract ideas through knowledge of world events. These can range in scope from Britain's EU negotiations to troubles in the Middle East; in most cases, the theoretical tracts studied can be best elucidated by applying them to current affairs.

Keeping one eye firmly on the news also increases enjoyment in the subject by giving theory a visible human angle. After all, it is difficult to learn about the remits of liberty, for example, without thinking about one's own freedoms in a highly politicised world. Reading newspapers - particularly political magazines like The Economist or The Spectator - really helps to develop one's understanding of Politics as a discipline, whilst ensuring that the things learnt in lessons and at home remain relevant.

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