Getting ready for your A-level Psychology exam? Exam board AQA shares advice to get you prepped
There's a lot you need to remember when you're studying for your A-level Psychology. But it can be the finer points of essay writing that can make the real difference.
We asked the psychology team at AQA to share their essential advice on taking AQA A-level Psychology. Here’s what they had to say:
Tip #1. Evaluation points are key
Do make sure that you elaborate on evaluation points as much as possible. For example, it’s not enough to simply say ‘this experiment lacks ecological validity’, you must put it in the context of the question and outline the implication. So exploring the ecological validity example and applying it to the context of a recent question concerning the research into the effect of misleading information on eyewitness testimony, it would be better to state:
‘The experiment by Loftus and Palmer lacked ecological validity because participants were asked to watch a video of a car crash and answer a series of questions, which does not reflect a real-life experience of witnessing a car crash. As such, the level of anxiety and the importance of a witness’s testimony in a real-life situation is far higher and so we cannot be sure that the effect of misleading information will be the same’.
Tip #2. Engage
Do engage with the material in the scenario in application questions. We sometimes see students simply referring to the names of people in the scenarios,(‘this can be seen in the case of x’) which is not enough. Consider writing about the relevant theory/concept then stating ‘this can be seen in the case of x when he/she…’. It’s important to make the links between the theory/concept and the actual context of the scenario.
Tip #3. Answer the question
Shape your answer to the question that’s been set. Make sure you’re answering the question by paying attention to the command term and the content words.For example, a question that asks students to ‘Discuss the findings of research into cultural variations in attachment’. The command term is ‘discuss’ and the content should be focused on the findings of research into cultural variations in attachment.
Students who simply discuss cultural variations in attachment and do not focus on the findings from research would lose out on marks. Don’t try to learn pre-prepared answers as these will not answer the specific questions.
Tip #4. Plan
Do recognise the importance of thinking, planning and paragraphing, particularly for extended responses. Plan your essays and think about how the points fit together to make a clear and coherent essay. Remember that providing a clear line of argument is important.
Tip #5. Don't waffle
Don’t provide overlong descriptions of evidence without using the research presented to support or refute a theory or argument. For example, a fairly common mistake is to provide a long description of a study when being asked to discuss a theory. Focus on providing a succinct overview of what they did in the study, what they found and whether it supports or refutes the theory. You must link the evidence back to the theory/question.