An Oxford University Press blog has some brilliant advice for students who should be doing their GCSE qualification this summer and are hoping to move on to do A Level Religious Studies in September.
‘Reading, note-making, practising your research skills and, above all, critical thinking will all help to sharpen your skills so that when you can begin A levels, you will be in the best position to make the most of your learning.’
A reading recommendation is to read one of the gospels all the way through if you’re going to be studying Christianity at A Level. The gospel of Luke is probably the best. Then, practising your note taking and keeping your handwriting legible is a good plan which by utilising online resources like TED talks can mean there’s no need to purchase expensive books:
- Questioning the Universe with Stephen Hawking
- Militant Atheism with Richard Dawkins
- A Life of Purpose with Rick Warren
- East versus West – the myths that demystify with Devdutt Pattanaik
- How do you explain consciousness with David Chalmers
- Why does the universe exist with Jim Holt
- The how and why of effective altruism with Peter Singer
- Atheism 2:0 with Alain de Botton
From watching and making notes on things like TED talks you will probably make that automatic jump into research. This would be another area for you to practise before starting A Levels. You could already check on your planned college’s website to find out what will be on the course, or do an online search for the topics stated by the exam boards, or simply get stuck in to philosophy and religion in a more ad hoc approach. People who might be of interest are: St Augustine, St Thomas Aquinas, Jeremy Bentham, Immanuel Kant and David Hume.
Finally when you are reading or watching things to improve your knowledge, remember that Religious Studies is never about just knowing a lot of facts and is about critical evaluation of those facts too. You can practise the skills of critical evaluation when you watch any TV, films or read things during the lockdown.