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Tips for Psychology at A-Level

I seem to see a fair number of people struggling with psychology revision, so I thought I'd just do a thread that I can answer questions on and share when I see these kinds of questions. I can't speak for other boards, but I feel I’m pretty qualified to speak about AQA specifically. I get full marks, or one off full marks, in pretty much every test I do, and it’s been that way since the start of Year 12. I think there’s a trick to getting exam technique right, and after that the rest falls into place pretty easily.

Revision Technique

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Exam Technique

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If you want me to delve in to any specifics then feel free to ask!

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As long as it works for you, that's what counts! I also use lots of arrows, like an upwards arrow followed by "int val" would mean "increases the internal validity".

That's quite difficult to say really. I think it's all about practice, and also knowing your stuff well. If you revise it over and over and feel like you're confident on the whole topic, then getting through it is quite simple as it's just a matter of turning your shorthand notes back into full form.

I think PEEL structure also works for comparison of approaches. Make your point by stating a similarity or difference, then provide evidence by developing on it. You could then explain nuances if possible, for instance a difference within the similarity, or a similarity within the difference; one example of this may be that the behaviourist and biological approaches both use animals, but the former focuses on the external environment while the latter is interested in the internal response. You can then link back to your original point by ending on the consequence/implication, eg. "this can be a weakness as both approaches can be accessed of anthropomorphism and may not generalise to humans".

It's my pleasure!
Reply 2
Original post by ashtolga23
As long as it works for you, that's what counts! I also use lots of arrows, like an upwards arrow followed by "int val" would mean "increases the internal validity".

That's quite difficult to say really. I think it's all about practice, and also knowing your stuff well. If you revise it over and over and feel like you're confident on the whole topic, then getting through it is quite simple as it's just a matter of turning your shorthand notes back into full form.

I think PEEL structure also works for comparison of approaches. Make your point by stating a similarity or difference, then provide evidence by developing on it. You could then explain nuances if possible, for instance a difference within the similarity, or a similarity within the difference; one example of this may be that the behaviourist and biological approaches both use animals, but the former focuses on the external environment while the latter is interested in the internal response. You can then link back to your original point by ending on the consequence/implication, eg. "this can be a weakness as both approaches can be accessed of anthropomorphism and may not generalise to humans".

It's my pleasure!

Thanks for directing me to this:smile: for 12 markers what kind of things should I include I'm really confused on how to actually structure them and what I should be putting in in terms of GRAVE and GRENADE?
Original post by Shafxx
Thanks for directing me to this:smile: for 12 markers what kind of things should I include I'm really confused on how to actually structure them and what I should be putting in in terms of GRAVE and GRENADE?

It’s not a problem!

First off, mind if I ask you about those acronyms? I’ve not come across them before and it may help me to advise you.
(edited 3 years ago)
Reply 4
GRAVE (generalisability, reliability, application, validity (internal and ecological) ethics.
Grenide
Gender bias
Reductionism Vs Holism
Ethical issues vs Socially
sensitivity.
Nature Vs Nurture
Idiographic Vs Nomothetic
Determinism Vs Freewill
Ethnocentrism.
Original post by Shafxx
GRAVE (generalisability, reliability, application, validity (internal and ecological) ethics.
Grenide
Gender bias
Reductionism Vs Holism
Ethical issues vs Socially
sensitivity.
Nature Vs Nurture
Idiographic Vs Nomothetic
Determinism Vs Freewill
Ethnocentrism.

Sorry for the later response; I was ironically making notes for psychology as I have a test tomorrow.

Ah interesting! Thank you for sharing those, it seems similar to one I use which is DREAMS:
Determinism VS free-will
Reductionism VS holism
Evidence
Applications
Methods (research)
Scientific?

Now back to your original query...
Original post by Shafxx
Thanks for directing me to this:smile: for 12 markers what kind of things should I include I'm really confused on how to actually structure them and what I should be putting in in terms of GRAVE and GRENADE?

I don't believe I've actually done 12-markers before as I've only done A-Level style questions, rather than AS. However, my revision guide has some suggestions. It says a good rule of thumb is 25-30 words per mark, as long as the answer is well-focused, and so suggests in a 12-mark essay you write 150-200 words on AO1 and 150-200 words on AO3; this may help you or it may not, but I thought I'd throw it in as a small note. Getting down to the more important things, it says there are two different routes you could use for structure. I'll put them both but I think the second is far stronger.
Route 1: Six points for AO1 and 5 points at intermediate level for AO3.
Route 2: Six points for AO1 and 3 points at expert level for AO3.
Route 2 requires you to elaborate more, and so you can use the PEEL structure I've talked about in my original post. I can give you some examples of 16-mark essays I've done if you'd like (I'd just have to go through my Google Drive to find them), just to demonstrate what a PEEL structure looks like.

As for the acronyms, I wouldn't get too weighed down in them. At a first glance they look very useful for considering what you may want to cover in your AO3, but you certainly won't need to be covering all of it for full marks. It's more a helpful reminder in what kind of things often come up in evaluation points. You just want to be asking yourself if certain studies/theories fit them, and if it's a limitation or strength. I'll shape GRAVE into questions so this may be clearer, then you can ask me any questions if you still have them:
G - Can you generalise the findings to the wider population? If yes, then this is a strength. If no, then this is a weakness, as the findings may not apply outside of the study/culture/gender/whatever factor is limiting.
R - Is the theory too reductionist, or is it more holistic? Holism is generally seen as a strength. Reductionism is generally seen as a weakness
A - Does it have real-world/practical application? If yes, then this is a strength as it is useful.
V - Is there anything that makes the validity particularly strong or weak? In a lab study for instance, validity could be made stronger by high control of the variables, or weaker through demand characteristics.
E - Are there any ethical issues? Obviously, if so, then this is a limitation.
This is great!
Original post by tinygirl96
This is great!

Aw thank you so much! That's really nice to hear.
Reply 8
What I did was at the top of each flash card, I’d write a 16-mark question and then in bullet points I’d think of a few points that would adequately answer the question, each bullet point being a paragraph in the real answer. I did this by going through each page of my revision guide and making sure I wasn’t leaving out any topic that a 16 marker could come up on. Google pretty much had all the 16 markers on there, I just typed in the topic name with ‘16 mark questions’ after. This is probably more Year 13 revision when you already know a fair bit, but it really really helps. You wouldn’t need to do the same for 12 or 8 mark questions as you could just pick out a couple of the bullet points and use those instead, so it’s actually more time efficient than it sounds. Oh yeah and if it helps you can highlight each bullet point a different colour depending on whether it’s AO1 or AO3, and that would give you a sense of how much you’re including in each answer. Good luck!
(edited 3 years ago)
Reply 9
Original post by psychind
What I did was at the top of each flash card, I’d write a 16-mark question and then in bullet points I’d think of a few points that would adequately answer the question, each bullet point being a paragraph in the real answer. I did this by going through each page of my revision guide and making sure I wasn’t leaving out any topic that a 16 marker could come up on. Google pretty much had all the 16 markers on there, I just typed in the topic name with ‘16 mark questions’ after. This is probably more Year 13 revision when you already know a fair bit, but it really really helps. You wouldn’t need to do the same for 12 or 8 mark questions as you could just pick out a couple of the bullet points and use those instead, so it’s actually more time efficient than it sounds. Oh yeah and if it helps you can highlight each bullet point a different colour depending on whether it’s AO1 or AO3, and that would give you a sense of how much you’re including in each answer. Good luck!

Would you be able to take a picture of one of the flashcards as an example please I usually waste a lot of time just deciding how I'm even going to lay my revision out :frown:
Original post by Shafxx
Would you be able to take a picture of one of the flashcards as an example please I usually waste a lot of time just deciding how I'm even going to lay my revision out :frown:


Of course I’ll put a picture on tomorrow :smile:
Reply 11
Thank you
E6DA87AF-482A-4F06-A20D-39A0FC9F13FA.jpg.jpeg


Ok so I couldn’t find the bullet point flash cards but I found these from Year 12 which follow a similar system, just in mindmap format. My mind maps were overly complicated and wordy but the general message of getting your AO1 (green) points in on one side (Harlow was one paragraph and Lorenz the next) and then your AO3 (pink) points on the other side (evaluation of Harlow one paragraph and Lorenz the other) is the same. I recommend putting it in wayyy less detail as it’s difficult to read this way, but whether you format it as a mindmap or bullet points is completely down to preference.
Hi I’m in year 12 and idk the structure for 16 markers as my teacher is ill. Like Ik u add A01 and A03 but how?
Original post by Eiman12346
Hi I’m in year 12 and idk the structure for 16 markers as my teacher is ill. Like Ik u add A01 and A03 but how? And for 12 and 8 markers? How many paragraphs and how do u start?

^^^^
Original post by Eiman12346
^^^^

I'm not really sure about 12 and 8 because I never needed to prepare for AS, and I feel I tend to see these less. The number of paragraphs isn't set in stone as it more depends on the level of detail. For a 16-marker, I tend to go with a big AO1 (description) paragraph that could unofficially be turned into 6 bullet points, and either 3 very detailed AO3 (evaluation) paragraphs, or 4 average ones.

Don't worry about starting it well; it's not English or anything. Literally just jump straight into it.

Here's an example of my answer (with teacher comments in red):

3) Discuss research into minority influence. (16 marks)
For a minority to become a majority, psychologists have found that the minority must demonstrate their views while being consistent, committed, and flexible. Consistency can mean consistency over time (ie. the minority have been saying the same thing for a long time), or throughout the minority (ie. the minority are all saying the same thing as each other). Commitment refers to being able to put yourself at risk for your cause, ranging from physical danger to risking losing your job; if someone is willing to put themselves in harm’s way for their cause then others may begin to take it seriously. Flexibility is the skill of compromise, as people will be more likely to agree with terms they see as reasonable; the minority cannot be too extreme in their demands or else people won’t listen. The more people converted to the minority view, the faster more people also join the minority; eventually this becomes a snowball effect, in which the minority will become the majority, and social change will have occurred.
Excellent summary of the key processes.

There is research support for consistency from Moscovici et al.’s study, which used 36 blue-green tiles in three conditions. In the first condition, confederates gave the same wrong answer in regards to the colour of the tiles repeatedly, whereas in the second they were inconsistent in giving this wrong answer (the third condition was a control in which confederates gave the right answer). Moscovici found that conformity dropped when the confederates were inconsistent, which suggests consistency is key in the majority being convinced of the minority’s view.

However, one problem with this study is that it was gynocentric to reduce the risk of colour-blindness. This means that the sample was biased, and may only apply to women. For this reason, the findings cannot be generalised. Another problem with the study was the artificial nature of the experiment, as there were no real-life consequences for p’s getting the wrong answer; in reality, the circumstances may be far more severe and the causes far more important, for instance in causing social change in regards to environmental attitudes. P’s also may have responded to demand characteristics in a lab experiment, either giving the answer they thought was wanted (“please U” effect) or purposely sabotaging the results (“screw U” effect), although Moscovici believed that p’s had internalised the beliefs because their answer was written down rather than spoken out loud. With all things considered, Moscovici’s findings seems as though they will not generalise to real-life scenarios, and therefore they lack external validity.

Despite this, other studies do support the ideas of minority influence too, and there is plenty of real-life evidence as well. For instance, Fathers For Justice once dressed up as superheroes and climbed the Houses of Parliament, which gained a lot of attention in the media and demonstrated commitment; the protesters were willing to put themselves at risk for their cause, and so people listened. Another real-life example could be environmental activists; people are willing to listen to flexible demands, such as recycling and carpooling, but the majority would find it off-putting if they were told they could never use a car again. This is real-life evidence showing that the minority must be committed and flexible to convert the majority.


Excellent stuff. There is another slightly more realistic study involving deliberation in juries that could have talked about but there's enough here for full marks. Well done.
16/16
Original post by ashtolga23
I'm not really sure about 12 and 8 because I never needed to prepare for AS, and I feel I tend to see these less. The number of paragraphs isn't set in stone as it more depends on the level of detail. For a 16-marker, I tend to go with a big AO1 (description) paragraph that could unofficially be turned into 6 bullet points, and either 3 very detailed AO3 (evaluation) paragraphs, or 4 average ones.

Don't worry about starting it well; it's not English or anything. Literally just jump straight into it.

Here's an example of my answer (with teacher comments in red):

3) Discuss research into minority influence. (16 marks)
For a minority to become a majority, psychologists have found that the minority must demonstrate their views while being consistent, committed, and flexible. Consistency can mean consistency over time (ie. the minority have been saying the same thing for a long time), or throughout the minority (ie. the minority are all saying the same thing as each other). Commitment refers to being able to put yourself at risk for your cause, ranging from physical danger to risking losing your job; if someone is willing to put themselves in harm’s way for their cause then others may begin to take it seriously. Flexibility is the skill of compromise, as people will be more likely to agree with terms they see as reasonable; the minority cannot be too extreme in their demands or else people won’t listen. The more people converted to the minority view, the faster more people also join the minority; eventually this becomes a snowball effect, in which the minority will become the majority, and social change will have occurred.
Excellent summary of the key processes.

There is research support for consistency from Moscovici et al.’s study, which used 36 blue-green tiles in three conditions. In the first condition, confederates gave the same wrong answer in regards to the colour of the tiles repeatedly, whereas in the second they were inconsistent in giving this wrong answer (the third condition was a control in which confederates gave the right answer). Moscovici found that conformity dropped when the confederates were inconsistent, which suggests consistency is key in the majority being convinced of the minority’s view.

However, one problem with this study is that it was gynocentric to reduce the risk of colour-blindness. This means that the sample was biased, and may only apply to women. For this reason, the findings cannot be generalised. Another problem with the study was the artificial nature of the experiment, as there were no real-life consequences for p’s getting the wrong answer; in reality, the circumstances may be far more severe and the causes far more important, for instance in causing social change in regards to environmental attitudes. P’s also may have responded to demand characteristics in a lab experiment, either giving the answer they thought was wanted (“please U” effect) or purposely sabotaging the results (“screw U” effect), although Moscovici believed that p’s had internalised the beliefs because their answer was written down rather than spoken out loud. With all things considered, Moscovici’s findings seems as though they will not generalise to real-life scenarios, and therefore they lack external validity.

Despite this, other studies do support the ideas of minority influence too, and there is plenty of real-life evidence as well. For instance, Fathers For Justice once dressed up as superheroes and climbed the Houses of Parliament, which gained a lot of attention in the media and demonstrated commitment; the protesters were willing to put themselves at risk for their cause, and so people listened. Another real-life example could be environmental activists; people are willing to listen to flexible demands, such as recycling and carpooling, but the majority would find it off-putting if they were told they could never use a car again. This is real-life evidence showing that the minority must be committed and flexible to convert the majority.


Excellent stuff. There is another slightly more realistic study involving deliberation in juries that could have talked about but there's enough here for full marks. Well done.
16/16

How do you set out each paragraph do you use the PEEL structure I'm so confused with how to set everything out ? x
Original post by Leemx
How do you set out each paragraph do you use the PEEL structure I'm so confused with how to set everything out ? x

The first one is literally as though you've taken 6 different bullet points and put them all in a paragraph together. The AO3 should probably be PEEL if you're struggling.
Reply 18
Original post by ashtolga23
The first one is literally as though you've taken 6 different bullet points and put them all in a paragraph together. The AO3 should probably be PEEL if you're struggling.

Do you have any more examples please but for memory ? And how do you form PEEL paragraphs please and do you have anything that includes issues and debates and how they relate to each topic e.g Milgram and alpha bias?
Original post by p170027
Do you have any more examples please but for memory ? And how do you form PEEL paragraphs please and do you have anything that includes issues and debates and how they relate to each topic e.g Milgram and alpha bias?

Unfortunately we never covered the issues and debates topic fully as it was the last topic we planned for and with the government announcements there was no need to continue. However, here's an answer to an 8-marker on memory, which was "Outline and evaluate one explanation for forgetting."

One explanation for forgetting is retrieval failure. Tulving (1983) put forward the idea of an encoding specificity principle (ESP), which states that there are cues present at the time of encoding that will help a memory to be accessed. Retrieval failure occurs when cues are absent, and so memories are available but cannot be accessed. Some cues are related to the information behind them, for instance abbreviations, but others have no meaningful link. These cues are either internal states such as mood, whose absence leads to state-dependent forgetting, or external factors such as the weather or environment, the absence of which leads to context-dependent forgetting.

A strength of this explanation is that it has plenty of evidence, ranging from everyday experiences to experiments. It is very common to walk into a room and forget why you went in there, which is an example of context-dependent forgetting. This type of retrieval failure has been formally studied in Godden and Baddeley’s 1975 study, which gave deep-sea divers four conditions in which they had to learn and recall information, either on land or underwater; they found that recall was higher when the environment was the same in both instances, eg. learned on land and recalled on land. This increases validity as there is more support for the explanation.

However, a weakness is that studies like Godden and Baddeley’s are unrealistic. Some psychologists point out that the contexts would have to be very different to see an effect, as with the deep-sea divers, but this is not a reflection of real life and so can’t be generalised (for instance, we are able to learn information in a classroom and recall it in an exam hall). Furthermore, these types of studies are unrealistic because the p’s only get a very limited time to learn the information, which is often meaningless, which doesn’t show the realities of life. The study also only tests recall, as a variation in 1980 showed that the divers performed similarly on a recognition test in all four conditions, and therefore retrieval failure is not a complete explanation.

Having said this, there is also evidence for state-dependent forgetting, which comes from real-life experiences. For instance, it was shown that alcoholics would hide money and drinks while intoxicated, and they would not be able to remember where until they were in the same state (ie. drunk) again. This shows that retrieval failure does have a place in explaining forgetting, and it can go on to have useful practical applications as a result, for instance it provides information that has been used to establish the cognitive interview, which lets psychology have a positive impact on police and the legal system.


I wrote quite a bit so my teacher said it wouldn't need loads more if the question were a 16-marker.

PEEL is pretty much what it says on the tin. State your point in one sentence, eg. "one limitation of the central executive (CE) is that it is vague." Then you go on to provide evidence or examples from studies and things like that, eg. "some psychologists have pointed out that it has no proper definition, and sometimes seems to be the same as attention is. It has even been put forward that the CE may not just be one sub-component, and could be made up of different parts itself." After this is done, you just need to make sure you link back to the question, eg. "this lack of clarity reduces how much use the CE can be, as we don’t truly understand what it is." This was actually taken from the same memory test, but a 3-mark question this time. Altogether it looked like this:

Briefly evaluate the central executive as part of working memory. (3 marks)
One limitation of the central executive (CE) is that it is vague. Some psychologists have pointed out that it has no proper definition, and sometimes seems to be the same as attention is. It has even been put forward that the CE may not just be one sub-component, and could be made up of different parts itself. This lack of clarity reduces how much use the CE can be, as we don’t truly understand what it is.

It's always a similar formula, so a bit of practice should let you get the hang of it in no time.
(edited 2 years ago)

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