How to revise for GCSE Psychology exams: AQA explains what to do

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Exam and revision advice to help you get your target grades in GCSE Psychology

When you're revising for your GCSE exams, you want to make the most of your study time.

So, we invited the experts at the AQA exam board to share their tips and advice on preparing for GCSE Psychology exams.

The article that follows has been written by an AQA curriculum expert, based on their years of experience in the assessment of their subject.  

You can find more articles in this series, covering a range of subjects at both GCSE and A-level, over on our revision section.

Also on The Student Room, you can find student discussion of 2024 GCSE exams.

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1. Do remember that GCSE Psychology papers are marked on-screen

Answers written in the margins, or in blank spaces below other questions, can result in complete answers not being scanned correctly. Use the additional pages and make sure you clearly identify the question number to which your response in the additional pages refers, for example, writing ‘21.4’ rather than just ‘21’.

2. Do remember to take the time to carefully read and decode questions

This is important if you are to provide answers that directly address the requirements of the question.

3. Do make sure you break down a question into all its required parts

If you don’t answer all the parts of the question, you will not be able to get full marks. Students often think that spending time writing long answers will get them more marks, but this isn’t always the case - there is a limit to how many marks you can get for each part of a question.

So, it is more important to make sure you answer all parts rather than spending valuable time writing a lot about the part you know the most about.

4. 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.

5. 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 specific content outlined in the scenario.

6. Do add a new idea for each mark

This can also be an extension of the previous idea. If it’s an extension of a previous idea, make sure the extension is clear and reads like a natural progression from the previous sentence.

7. Do remember that for a question that requires you to describe a study, it is important to include all the components of the study (and not just the method)

You should include detail about the aims, method, results, and conclusions. You might consider labelling your margin with A, M, R, and C, to help you remember all the necessary detail to be included.

8. Do remember to provide balanced responses

For example, for a 9-mark synoptic question, more than half the marks are for evaluation. It is important to remember to not spend too much time on description part of the question.

9. Do remember to carefully read and only address the information required by the bullet points in a design a study” type question

Marks are only awarded for the bullet points that follow a phrase such as “you need to include” or “in your answer.” You might find it helpful to tick off each bullet point as you answer it.


1. Don’t define key terms using words contained within the term itself

For example, if you are asked to define what a false memory is, do not say it’s a memory that is false. It would be better to say it is a memory of an event that has never happened but feels as if it did.

2. Don’t confuse the research method with the experimental design and sampling, in synoptic questions that ask you to ‘evaluate the research method used’

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