Top tips to pass Psychology A level

Knowing what to expect in an exam and having a strategy to achieve your goal is the key to success

Published 16 January 2023

Set your goals


As a psychology teacher and tutor for more than 30 years - in my experience many students underestimate the exact nature of what Psychology is and are are often surprised that it very much a scientific subject which requires a methodical approach and a certain amount of statistical calculation as well. 

There is a misconception that it is all about people's problems and the mental health aspect of the subject - which of course it is - but it encompasses the whole of human behaviour. A methodical and practical approach is needed to ensure success just as in any other science such as Biology or chemistry.

Here is a reminder of the assessment objectives which are essential to master in order to pass and also get a good grade,


Assessment objectives

AO1 Knowledge and understanding



Make sure you know all the key studies - techniques and procedures, Understand the psychological theories, approaches and concepts and methodology used. This element is often the most straightforward with questions such as ‘Describe’ or ‘Explain’ - testing recall of facts,


AO2 -Application of knowledge


This usually relates to the research methods element of psychology which underpins the scientific nature of this subject. you need to know and understand how to apply the various different research designs as well as interpret the data from tables and charts.

AO3 Analyse, interpret and evaluate


This element of the exam is possibly the trickiest but it is where you can pick up most marks. it requires more than simple recall but the ability to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of a theory or study - in other words make a judgment using psychological research to support or refute your argument.

Make a plan now


There are about four months until first exams in the summer which is plenty of time to set up a revision schedule. Use past papers to become familiar to the type and style of questions asked and pay attention to the number of marks on offer. one or two marks will require only one or two sentences - ten marks will need one or two paragraphs. Do not leave everything until the last minute - this is not a strategy I would recommend. If you need any help - please get in touch - sometimes it might need just one or two sessions to get you on track! 

Good luck!

Rowena Hawtin (MSc BSc Psychology)


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