Top Trumps

[by Jon Neil]


Here is an update on the Top Trumps activity that I did with my lower sixth politics class week.  The task involved the students researching various pressure groups and putting together a pack of top trumps cards (14 in total).  A week of homework time was allocated to this activity and the students were expected to bring their cards to the class the following week when the actual games would be played.

top trumps

Download the Word Template: pressure group top trumps

It was agreed that there would be 5 categories on each top trump card (the students helped decide the categories).  These were:

  1. The year the pressure group was founded.
  2. The number of members the pressure group has.
  3. The annual revenue of each pressure group.
  4. An assessment of whether the pressure group is an insider group.
  5. An assessment of the overall influence of the pressure group.

The first three categories are objective facts and thus the students have to just go out and find the information.  The final two categories, however, are subjective and students have to reach a value judgement.  Before setting the activity, I got the students to discuss what criteria they will use to make their judgment about each of the factors on the top trump card.  For example, for influence, how are they going to measure this and what factors can determine the success of a pressure group?  This is a really valuable part of the activity as it encourages students to think about how these factors should be measured.


  1. The students seemed to really enjoy the activity (both the card production and the actual playing of the games).  They said that it made a nice break from doing past papers etc.  The quality of cards produced was usually high (see attached example)
  2. The activity really developed independent research skills.  The information for categories 2 and 3 above, for example, was not always easily accessible and the students had to do a fair amount of digging.  It is important when designing the game that categories are chosen which prove challenging in terms of research skills.
  3. In the best cases, the students put a lot of thought into categories 4 and 5.  Rather than just picking numbers randomly out of the air, they thought clearly about the factors that determine pressure group influence (for example) and adopted an almost scientific approach to the task.  The level of higher order evaluation skills on display was impressive.


  1. A minority of students seemed to think this was a design task.  They spent an inordinate amount of time actually designing the top trump template.  Their focus really should have been on the research and reaching the higher order judgements required for categories 4 and 5.  I would emphasize this more strongly at the outset next time.





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