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Selftudying Alevels - Psychology, Biology, Maths

I want to study alevels at home, but I'm unsure of how I'll be able to check myself on answering questions, esseys, and my work overall. I am not a native speaker so I worry about my grammar and writing esseys as well, but I'm very determinated. I've done my GCSE's back in the 2017, so it's been quite a while ago... I feel I'll need help with essays the most but I really enjoy psychology so I'd like to stick to that.
Do you have any tips on how I could find some help on that? I'm also not sure what books I sould buy for psychology (I was thinking about the book with a girl with green hair but there are two versions of it now). Do you also have a page which explains what sould I look out for when answering exam questions? I heard You need to give them a specyfic answer to get full marks, but I dont ave a teacher or school whom I could ask for explenation or help. Should I find a tutor? Although I'm quite sure the're pretty expensive and with all of the workload I'd need to spend a fortune on them. Please if you have any advice, give it to me. Please don't discourage me as I'm really determinated.
Original post by Dziubu
I want to study alevels at home, but I'm unsure of how I'll be able to check myself on answering questions, esseys, and my work overall. I am not a native speaker so I worry about my grammar and writing esseys as well, but I'm very determinated. I've done my GCSE's back in the 2017, so it's been quite a while ago... I feel I'll need help with essays the most but I really enjoy psychology so I'd like to stick to that.
Do you have any tips on how I could find some help on that? I'm also not sure what books I sould buy for psychology (I was thinking about the book with a girl with green hair but there are two versions of it now). Do you also have a page which explains what sould I look out for when answering exam questions? I heard You need to give them a specyfic answer to get full marks, but I dont ave a teacher or school whom I could ask for explenation or help. Should I find a tutor? Although I'm quite sure the're pretty expensive and with all of the workload I'd need to spend a fortune on them. Please if you have any advice, give it to me. Please don't discourage me as I'm really determinated.


Are you doing an online A Level course? It usually helps with getting feedback on essays. It would also cut down on the cost of tutors for the duration of your study (£400-800 vs £40 for 20+ hours). If you also go for the courses, they usually provide all the material from textbooks for you without you needing to buy the textbooks (I would still recommend that you get the revision guides and exam practice books where possible).

I have done A Level Maths, so I might be able to help in that respect.

I would normally recommend getting a book on advanced level grammar (e.g. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17473507-advanced-grammar-in-use-with-answers, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30131995-oxford-practice-grammar-advanced), but I think it might be overkill for psycholgy and biology. The level of English that you would need is roughly grade 5-6 at GCSE. The quality of your writing skills isn't crucial as much as the ideas that you are trying to get across. I would normally stick to simple sentence structures and use of terminologies for most of the answers.

When writing up reports for psychology and biology, you will be using a structured report outline and won't involve extensive essays per se (you will likely require to write more essays at university though I think).

I think it's more productive to look at past papers and review the mark scheme for specific exam questions to see what is required for each area. Having said that, some mark schemes can be a bit cryptic and often don't specify what they mean. I would then use model answers for different grades and compare and contrast them against the mark scheme and exam questions for more indepth analysis and comprehension.

As biology requires you to know a lot of definitions, you will need to be precise with your definitions. Often this means you learn through rote memorisation of the specific defintions.

Do also note that for biology you have the option to do the practical assessments. It's expensive to do (£1000) and it's a complete pain to find a centre to do your assessment at. I would check to see if your chosen degree course will require you to have done the practical assessment. If not, you're scot-free.

Alternatives to doing the A Levels would be to do an Access course, which you should be able to do for free if you haven't been to college or university before (or more specifically, not done a qualfication above an NVQ Level 3). The A Level Maths would require you to do privately, but I would check whether you would need it for the specific degree that you want to apply for. This way, your costs can be significantly reduced and you get to save quite a bit of time.
The problem with Access diplomas is that it's not commonly accepted outside of England, and even then it's not for all English universities. For those that do accept them, they can accept them for specific courses, often with specific requirements. So you will need to check with the subject department of the specific universities to be sure as well as checking on the specific degree course page.
If you are interested in knowing more about the Access course, let me know.
Reply 2
Original post by MindMax2000
Are you doing an online A Level course? It usually helps with getting feedback on essays. It would also cut down on the cost of tutors for the duration of your study (£400-800 vs £40 for 20+ hours). If you also go for the courses, they usually provide all the material from textbooks for you without you needing to buy the textbooks (I would still recommend that you get the revision guides and exam practice books where possible).

I have done A Level Maths, so I might be able to help in that respect.

I would normally recommend getting a book on advanced level grammar (e.g. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17473507-advanced-grammar-in-use-with-answers, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30131995-oxford-practice-grammar-advanced), but I think it might be overkill for psycholgy and biology. The level of English that you would need is roughly grade 5-6 at GCSE. The quality of your writing skills isn't crucial as much as the ideas that you are trying to get across. I would normally stick to simple sentence structures and use of terminologies for most of the answers.

When writing up reports for psychology and biology, you will be using a structured report outline and won't involve extensive essays per se (you will likely require to write more essays at university though I think).

I think it's more productive to look at past papers and review the mark scheme for specific exam questions to see what is required for each area. Having said that, some mark schemes can be a bit cryptic and often don't specify what they mean. I would then use model answers for different grades and compare and contrast them against the mark scheme and exam questions for more indepth analysis and comprehension.

As biology requires you to know a lot of definitions, you will need to be precise with your definitions. Often this means you learn through rote memorisation of the specific defintions.

Do also note that for biology you have the option to do the practical assessments. It's expensive to do (£1000) and it's a complete pain to find a centre to do your assessment at. I would check to see if your chosen degree course will require you to have done the practical assessment. If not, you're scot-free.

Alternatives to doing the A Levels would be to do an Access course, which you should be able to do for free if you haven't been to college or university before (or more specifically, not done a qualfication above an NVQ Level 3). The A Level Maths would require you to do privately, but I would check whether you would need it for the specific degree that you want to apply for. This way, your costs can be significantly reduced and you get to save quite a bit of time.
The problem with Access diplomas is that it's not commonly accepted outside of England, and even then it's not for all English universities. For those that do accept them, they can accept them for specific courses, often with specific requirements. So you will need to check with the subject department of the specific universities to be sure as well as checking on the specific degree course page.
If you are interested in knowing more about the Access course, let me know.

I study Alevels by myself, without a tutor. Thank you for recomendation of the books, I've already got them and few more. That's comforting that I won't be needing as high level of english as I thought. I am also gratefull for all the usefull information you gave me. I decided to skip practical assessments and try to achive high grade in writing exams to compensate for these marks.
I will stay with the Alevels as I might need this level to be recognized outside of England.
I am also confused regarding what exams I should take and what specifications I should follow. Do I first need to study all AS level context and sit the exams and then follow the process with A-level context and exams? I feel like it might be different for studying this level at home, but don't know for sure. I asked this question in the separate discussion as well, but thought you might help me with that as well.
Thank you once again for all very usefull tips.
Original post by Dziubu
I study Alevels by myself, without a tutor. Thank you for recomendation of the books, I've already got them and few more. That's comforting that I won't be needing as high level of english as I thought. I am also gratefull for all the usefull information you gave me. I decided to skip practical assessments and try to achive high grade in writing exams to compensate for these marks.
I will stay with the Alevels as I might need this level to be recognized outside of England.
I am also confused regarding what exams I should take and what specifications I should follow. Do I first need to study all AS level context and sit the exams and then follow the process with A-level context and exams? I feel like it might be different for studying this level at home, but don't know for sure. I asked this question in the separate discussion as well, but thought you might help me with that as well.
Thank you once again for all very usefull tips.


I decided to skip practical assessments and try to achive high grade in writing exams to compensate for these marks.
Depending on the specific course and university, you might be asked to have done the practical assessment if you are applying with science A Levels. (this is irrespective of what grades you will get i.e. higher grades won't make up for a lack of practical assessment for these universities). Some universities and courses don't require it, but if it's in healthcare or science, then you will likely need this. I would check the individual degree courses that you want to apply for just to check.

I am also confused regarding what exams I should take and what specifications I should follow. Do I first need to study all AS level context and sit the exams and then follow the process with A-level context and exams?
As far as I know, the International A Levels will follow the AS and A2 system whereas the UK A Levels will only allow you to either sit AS or full A Levels i.e. you cannot do AS then later do A2 with UK A Levels.
In terms of exam boards, I will pick the exam board based on what you think of the exam papers, specifications, mark schemes, and what other people have said about the exam boards. There are plenty of threads in TSR regarding exam boards.
If you stick to the UK A Level exam boards, you have OCR, EdExcel, and AQA. I cannot comment on what the exam boards are like for other subjects, but my favourite for maths has been AQA (I had bad experiences with EdExcel, although other people say it's relatively easy).
The International A Level exam boards are Cambridge CIE (equivalent of OCR), OxfordAQA (AQA), EdExcel.
Should you decide to take online A Level courses, you will need to pick your course by the exam board, and each online college goes by a particular exam board for each specific A Level subject (as far as I know).
Generally, I have better experiences with AQA, but other people might have different opinions.

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