What can we learn from the 2018 AQA A Level Psychology examiner reports?

The 2018 examiner reports for AQA A Level Psychology exams were positive, with students largely able to demonstrate their preparation and knowledge. However, now the dust has settled we have prepared a short summary of suggestions for this year’s cohort to learn from, along with some free resources to help them tackle these issues.

Key issues in the exam

  • Reading the question: Students were tripped up by not answering or part-answering the questions. This also applied to multiple choice questions. Students need to pay careful attention to command words, re-reading all questions and being clear about what is being asked of them before they start writing. They would also do well to look over the whole paper at the start of the examination and note which questions are inter-related.
  • Evaluation: students were well able to recount what they had learned, but often listed everything they knew rather than answering the demands of the question and showing genuine understanding. Students would do well to focus on what the question requires of them and use their higher order skills to demonstrate their ability to apply what they know. Few points in greater depth can often lead to more successful answers.
  • Familiarity with exam papers: students were unclear where to write if they needed extra paper. They would have done better to spend a couple of minutes planning the structure of their answers for more extended writing, giving them better coherence and focus. Students should be reminded to use a calculator for the mathematical components of the papers to save time and check their workings.
  • Vocabulary: many students did not show a strong grasp of core subject vocabulary which limited their ability to access the questions e.g. journal, sampling, identity, conformity, reductionism, investigator effects, content analysis etc.
  • Time constraints: some students struggled with using their time appropriately – spending time writing lengthy descriptions or pre-learned model answers which did not address the requirements of the question or relate to the number of points on offer.
  • Practical experience: students would benefit from gaining more practical experience, helping cement knowledge and understanding of the specification through practical work.

Exam support from Oxford

To help you get ahead for 2019 we’ve gathered together some free content from The Complete Companions series that could help students in these key areas.

A Kerboodle On your marks activity:  Complete, all round support for exam-style essay preparation, the On Your Marks activities from Kerboodle guide students through answering questions in their exam:

  • Part one is an interactive activity which helps students to break down the question:
  • Part two gives students the chance to look at and analyse some sample answers using a mark scheme
  • In part three, students can attempt to answer the question, analyse their own answer, and self-mark using the mark scheme.

A spread from our new The Complete Companions Year 1 and AS Student Book

The new, enhanced evaluation sections in our Fifth Edition Student Books have a clear separation of description (AO1) content from the evaluation (AO3), which helps your students to construct effective answers to AO3 extended response questions.

The Complete Companions for AQA Paper 2 Exam Workbook

Get free access for 30 days to an online version of our brand new Exam Workbook. These write-in workbooks provide students with the opportunity to practice all types of AQA exam question, so they’re fully prepared for each exam paper.

Exam support – the essay question film clip

In this film clip from Kerboodle, our expert author, Mike Cardwell, gives advice on how to approach essay questions in the exam

Key terms interactive activity

This activity, taken from Kerboodle, helps students to link key Research Methods terms to their definitions.

Social influence knowledge auto-marked test

An interactive Kerboodle quiz which tests students’ knowledge of topic content and key terms.

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