• A-level psychology

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A-Level Psychology

Background information about studying Psychology

Psychology is the study of human behaviors using scientific methods to both analyse and explain different human behaviors. It has recently been reclassified by the QCA as a science subject. The course is full of case studies, theories and going in depth about certain behaviors.

What can I expect from a Psychology A-Level?


Psychology isn't massively hard to understand but there's a lot you need to learn and make sure you know thoroughly so if you struggle learning and retaining high levels of information you may find it slightly difficult. Also there's a fair bit of science involved (although don't let that put you off if you really dislike science subjects such as chemistry) so if you found it really hard then you may find psychology a bit of a challenge. For Edexcel, the science is pretty restricted to the Biological Approach in Unit 2, even then the science aspect isn't too heavy but it is the 'scientific' study of the mind, so take that into consideration when choosing.


There's lots of case studies and theories to learn which can mean you are doing a lot of learning throughout your course. To give you an idea of what case studies are like, for AQA A AS, there were around 80 main case studies, to summarise these would involve a good half page of writing, and then there were many more smaller additional studies you would use to evaluate the main study to gain higher marks. Unlike history, the dates of the studies are given in textbooks but your marks aren't penalised for giving an incorrect date/not giving a date. Flashcards will be your friend!

Required Individual Study

Individually the main thing I have found personally is to make sure I understand my notes and just revising them regularly to reinforce the key things in my memory. Independently you may find you want to read around the subject you more and your teacher should be happy to point you in the right direction of what to study.

How is it assessed?


As of September 2008 Psychology is entirely examination based. For AS on AQA you will do two 90 minute exams, one for each unit and for A2 you will do one 90 minute exam and one 2 hour exam. Each AS module makes up 50% of the overall AS and 25% of the overall A2 with the A2 modules making up the other 50% overall. With this exam board the A2 exams are purely essay based. For CIE, the AS exam involves 2 exams both of 1hr 30, the A2 exam is 3 hours long and there is only one exam, the A2 exam carries more weight than the 2 AS exams.


There is no coursework for psychology as of September 2008.


There are no formally assessed practicals but your teacher may decide to do some practical work within your lessons, although this doesn't tend to happen too often.

Field trips and excursions

Your sixth form/college may decide to visit somewhere psychologically significant at some point during your course to reinforce what you have studied or to help you further develop on your class work.

Where can I go with a Psychology A-Level

Studying psychology provides you with a vast number of options. Just some of the potential career options open to you include: education, social work, psychology, advertising, counselling, the police force and many more.

User Opinions

Username: timewarp

What I like about studying this subject: Most of it is really really interesting and it really brings it home when you study things such as feral children and how different things can be between people. I also have two really good teachers who make the lessons really enjoyable as well as being effective.

What I dislike about studying this subject: Having never done psychology before there's lots of new things to learn and remember which can be a bit difficult and having to do research methods is probably the most boring part of the course and is where science comes into it a lot so I'm not keen on research methods.

Username: sheriann

What I like about studying this subject: I like how it's about stuff that actually interesting, thought provoking and relevant to us. Its also not that much work in terms of homework its all just about memorising it.

What I dislike about studying this subject: Inferential statistics. Enough said.

Username: Infernalcradle

What I like about studying this subject:

its an easy subject, quite interesting and very good if you like to debate a lot and put forward theories etc. Good as a 4th or 5th subject...to be dropped at AS...although I daresay I'm enjoying it a lot and may reconsider dropping it

What I dislike about studying this subject:

SOOOOO much to learn....and its all stuff like learning a guys name, the date he did said experiment, what he found out, strength and weakness etc...its not actually learning how to mess with minds...although you do see some studies about people that have

Username: HighSkies

What I like about studying this subject: Its really really interesting. Personally I like how they've introduced more biology into it and those parts are my favourite. You learn a lot which you find is relevant to your own life which makes it just that much better. There isn't too much homework, at AS hardly any and at A2 an essay a week plus the question. Its always a fun challenge to try and do better in Psychology.

What I dislike about studying this subject: Some of the theories... are really quite silly! There is no other way of putting it but I suppose thats not a dislike of A level Psychology but of the research some psychologists have done.

Username: Haithere

What I like about studying this subject: The course is genuinely interesting to me. You cover lots of different areas of psychology, much of this can be applied to real life. You start to notice things in life that before you would've taken at face value. It changes your perspectives and opens your mind. It is challenging, which is important to me, and I definitely disagree that it is the 'easy' subject it's made out to be.

What I dislike about studying this subject: There is a lot of work involved, which is ok if you're motivated and enjoy the subject, but if not it may not be for you. There are lots of studies to remember, some of which aren't really that significant. Quite a lot of time needs to be spent on revising these.

Username: Anonypouss

What I like about studying this subject: It's interesting, you learn things that you start to notice all around you.

What I dislike about studying this subject: It's realllllllly really hard to learn for the exam, there's so much stuff to know for A2 and they only test you on a tiny part of it. I took this as my "doss" subject (with chemistry biology and economics) and this is now my hardest one. (The content is easy, but learning EVERYTHING for the course is ridiculous)

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