A-level Psychology exams and revision: AQA explains what you need to do

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Our series on exam advice continues with tips from AQA on A-level Psychology

To help you make the most of your remaining revision time, we’ve worked with exam board AQA to create a series of exam advice articles.

In each of these features, you’ll find advice and easy-to-follow tips written by one of AQA’s subject matter experts.

Read on to get the inside track on A-level Psychology, direct from the people who make the exams.

AQA logo byline
AQA logo byline

DO make sure you elaborate on evaluation points as much as possible

For example, it’s not enough to simply say ‘this experiment lacks ecological validity’ - you need to put it in the context of the question and outline the implication.

So, exploring the ecological validity example and applying it to a recent exam question about 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.’

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, which isn’t enough. Consider writing about the relevant theory or 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 or concept and the actual context of the scenario.

DO shape your answer to the question that’s been set

Pay attention to the command term and the content words. For example, a question that asks students to ‘outline how Lorenz and Harlow studied attachment using animals’ should focus on providing an outline of how they studied attachment using animals. Students who simply outline Lorenz and Harlow’s studies and don’t focus on the procedure (the ‘how’) for each study will lose out on marks.

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.

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 students make is providing 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. It’s really important to link the evidence back to the theory or question.

DON'T try to learn pre-prepared answers as these won’t answer the specific questions

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Good luck from AQA

AQA believes everyone has the potential to achieve, and we make sure our qualifications give all students the opportunity to show what they can do and progress to the next stage of their lives.

Our subject experts worked with The Student Room so we can reach as many students as possible with advice on how to approach your revision and exams. We wish you well in the weeks ahead, and don’t forget to look after yourselves too: eat well, sleep well and tell someone how you’re feeling if there are days when things don’t go so well or you don’t feel so good.

 Good luck!