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ISEB Common Entrance Religious Studies Exam

Introduction

Common Entrance Theology, Philosophy and Religion focuses on Catholicism. It reflects the fact that the religious traditions of the United Kingdom are, in the main, Christian while taking into account other religious and non-religious traditions represented in the United Kingdom. The RS syllabus has six key aims for the relevant students:

  1. study the foundational biblical texts for Roman Catholic Christianity;
  2. acquire knowledge and develop understanding of the beliefs, values, traditions and history of Roman Catholicism;
  3. consider the influence on people’s lives of the beliefs, values and traditions associated with Roman Catholicism;
  4. consider Roman Catholic responses to some moral issues;
  5. identify, investigate and respond to fundamental questions of life raised by religion in general, by Roman Catholicism in particular and by human experience, including questions about the meaning and purpose of life;
  6. develop skills relevant to the study of religion.

The exam is divided into three sections: the old covenant, Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God, the church and the sacraments.

There are three assessment objectives, which are specified for students. Please find our full breakdown of CE RS, as well as the requisite assessment details and objectives below.

Section one: The Old Covenant

The Old Covenant element of the syllabus develops the theology of covenant through two topic areas.

Topic 1: God and the World

Topic 2: Living the Covenant

Candidates should have a critical understanding of the ideas studied. Candidates may study topic 1 or topic 2 or both topics. Two questions will be set on topic 1 and two questions on topic 2. Candidates who choose section 1 answer one question from either topic 1 or topic 2.

Topic 1: God and the World

Creation

• Genesis 1:1- 2:1-25
•The purpose of creation
• Science and creation today
• Humans as created in God’s image
• Stewardship

The Fall and Human Nature

• Adam and Eve: Genesis 3:1-24
• Cain and Abel: Genesis 4:1-16
• Jonah: Jonah 3-4
• The effects of the Fall on men and women
• Human nature: obedience, sin and evil
• Suffering, repentance and forgiveness

Topic 2: Living the Covenant
The Decalogue

• The Ten Commandments: Exodus 20:1-17
• David: 2 Samuel 11:1-17
• Application of the Decalogue
• The meaning of Covenant

Abraham

• The call of Abraham: Genesis 12:1-9
• Abraham and Isaac: Genesis 17:15-22
• The near sacrifice of Isaac: Genesis 22:1-18
• Abraham’s relationship with God
• Abraham’s character and example
• The nature of vocation

Moses

• The call of Moses: Exodus 3:1-17
• The Passover: Exodus 12:1-20
• Crossing the Sea: Exodus 14:10-31
• Moses’ character and example
• The nature of faith
• The Exodus as a symbol of liberation

Section 2: Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God

The Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God element of the syllabus develops the theology of the person of Christ and eschatology through two topic areas.

Topic 1: The Example of Christ

Topic 2: The Kingdom of God

Candidates should have a critical understanding of the ideas studied.
Candidates may study topic 1 or topic 2 or both topics. Two questions will be set on topic 1 and two questions on topic 2. Candidates who choose section 1 answer one question from either topic 1 or topic 2.

Topic 1: The Example of Christ

The Person of Jesus

• The Incarnation and Birth of Christ: Matthew 1:18-24
• Jesus’ baptism and temptations: Matthew 3:13 – 4:11
• Jesus’ healing ministry: Mark 2:1-12
• Jesus’ work with outcasts: John 8:1-11
• Jesus’ teaching on: forgiveness, love and reconciliation
• The Trinity: Matthew 28:16-20

Discipleship

• The call of the disciples: Matthew 4:18-22
• The identity of the disciples: Matthew 10:1-4
• The call and commissioning of Peter: Matthew 16:13-23
• The qualities of being a disciple: Matthew 16:24-28
• Discipleship today: the life and teaching of Oscar Romero and Jean Vanier

Topic 2: The Kingdom of God

Miracles and Parables

• Why Jesus taught using parables
• The Sower and the Seed: Mark 4:1-20
• The Talents: Matthew 25:14-30
• The Lost Son: Luke 15:11-32
• The Good Samaritan: Luke 10:25-37
• Why Jesus performed miracles
• The Feeding of the Five Thousand: Mark 6:30-44

The Passion

• Anointing at Bethany: Mark 14:3-9
• Last Supper: Mark 14:12-31
• Gethsemane: Mark 14:14:32-42
• Arrest and Peter’s denial: Mark 14:43-72
• Pilate’s trial: Mark 15:1-15
• Crucifixion: Mark 15:16-41
• Burial: Mark 15:42-47

The Resurrection

• The empty tomb: John 20:1-10
• Mary Magdalene: John 20:11-18
• The other disciples and Thomas: John 20:19-29

Section three: The Church and Sacraments

The Church and Sacraments element of the syllabus develops the history, theology and life of the Church through two topic areas.

Topic 1: Church and Life

Topic 2: The Sacramental Life

Candidates should have a critical understanding of the ideas studied.
Candidates may study topic 1 or topic 2 or both topics. Two questions will be set on topic 1 and two questions on topic 2. Candidates who choose section 1 answer one question from either topic 1 or topic 2.

Topic 1: Church and Life

The Birth and Life of the Church

• Pentecost and the birth of the Church
• St Paul and his mission
• The Roman Church and the continental/English Reformation
• The Pope and Church authority
• Prayer: types and purpose

The Liturgical Year and Devotion

• Advent and Christmas
• Lent and the Stations of the Cross
• Holy Week and Easter
• Our Lady: the mysteries of the Rosary
• Pilgrimage
• Eternal life: heaven, hell and purgatory
• The Communion of Saints

Topic 2: The Sacramental Life

Community Life in the Church

• Marriage and the family
• Charity: work of Catholic charities and agencies
• Laity: role in the community and in the parish
• Issues of life and death: euthanasia and war
• Attitudes to non-Christian world religions

Sacraments

• Grace and meaning of sacrament
• Baptism and Confirmation
• Reconciliation
• Mass/Eucharist
• Holy Orders: bishops, priests, deacons and religious orders

Assessment details

The examination will be 60 minutes. Candidates will be required to demonstrate knowledge and understanding, and the ability to evaluate alternative points of view.
Each section will contain four questions. There will be two questions per topic in each section. Each question will be subdivided into three parts (a-c), to test knowledge, understanding and evaluation.
Candidates must answer one question from any two of the three sections.
Candidates may restrict their study to either topic 1 or topic 2 in each section if they wish (but this will reduce their choice of questions in the examination).

Candidates must demonstrate their ability to:

  • AO1 recall, select, organise, summarise and deploy knowledge of the syllabus content, including the content and distinctive concepts of foundational texts and the specialist vocabulary of religion;
  • AO2 describe, analyse and explain the relevance and application of religious ideas and practices, and issues arising from the study of Roman Catholicism;
  • AO3 evaluate different responses to religious and moral issues, including a personal response, using relevant evidence and argument, and appropriate language and terminology.
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