How can I effectively plan to write an essay for a sociological question?

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Breaking down an essay question is an integral part of planning, and should be done before you can think of what you need to be researching. It is both, essential and useful to carefully analyse and gather hints from the essay question itself. For example, if you get a question for a piece of coursework which asks: "The education system in Britain is truly consistent with values of meritocracy"- Critically evaluate. Firstly, you can make a bullet point of sub-headings for each section. These may include: 

Introduction (giving guidance to the reader about how you will answer the question and moreover mention the different subheadings you have divided the essay into)

Context- the essay question specifically asks about the education system in Britain and for this it is vital to know some knowledge about policy changes and how the current system operates. Also briefly introduce your argument as to what the two opposing sides claim, for example: why and why isn't the education system a reflection of meritocracy.

The following sections can then compare and contrast theories and schools of thought. Sociology essays are mainly always based on a theory and thus, it is important to argue from the viewpoints of those. In this specific question, you need to find two theories which have studied the education system. Marxism and Functionalism can be two main theories you could use. Furthermore, the question asks you to ‘critically analyse’, therefore you should try to test the two theories against each other. A bonus will be to mention current policies or changes proposed by the government in Britain and determine whether they steer more towards meritocracy (as per Functionalists), or inequality (as per Marxists).

Malika D. A Level Sociology tutor, GCSE Sociology tutor

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