Newstead Wood School

Newstead Wood School

Learning to Fly

These are the skills and habits which outstanding students of Psychology develop. Do as many of these as possible to become completely independent in the subject and to develop the skills and knowledge needed to A* at A Level. Remember that just doing what your teacher tells you - in your lessons and beyond - is not enough to develop your full potential in the subject.

In your lessons

Contribute your ideas verbally and be an active participant in lessons – be confident to challenge or question ideas and concepts contributed by both the teacher and other students.

Make sure you follow tasks in your notes – consciously highlight key concepts and define relevant key terminology. Consider adding key terms to a working glossary.

Ask questions if you are unsure and need clarification.

Make sufficient additional notes – don’t just rely on workbooks and handouts but make your own additional notes based on the verbal contributions of teacher and students.

Avoid wasting time – if you finish a task earlier than your peers look at the example exam questions for that topic from the bottom of each textbook page and have a go at answering them (both SAQ and LAQ) – submit them for marking.

Avoid working too far ahead on new tasks or topic areas in lesson times – focus instead on extending your knowledge of current topic areas to add depth to your knowledge.


Between your lessons

Challenge yourself to complete additional practice exam questions on both the AS and A2 content, particularly for areas that were covered some time ago or that you find particularly challenging – submit your work for marking and feedback.

Consolidate your notes regularly – the content in Psychology is vast, especially now you will sit linear exams. Ensure you regularly summarise your learning to key notes sufficient to allow you to answer a 12/16 mark question on each topic area e.g. 3 key AO1 points and 3 key AO3 points for a 12 mark essay plan.

Read ahead on upcoming topic areas and consider any questions you may have that you want to be clarified in class.

Plan essay responses, ideally for every topic area that you could have an essay question for – this is essential exam preparation and should be no more than a series of key words to act as prompts for your essay. If you can answer an essay question you can be confident you would be able to answer the SAQ also.


Beyond your lessons

Engage in wider reading of topic areas – look up recent research articles using internet search engines or try to find the original research reports from key research studies covered in class.

Access resources from other A Level Psychology textbooks available in the library – this will demonstrate to examiners that you have a greater breadth of knowledge and haven’t just learnt the textbook.

Ask your teacher for additional reading resources if you are interested in a particular topic that is being covered, or topics beyond the curriculum that interest you.

Read current articles reviewing topic areas including newspaper articles or articles from psychology magazines e.g. Psychology Review (available in the library).

Watch psychology documentaries – for most topics there are relevant programs exploring research and implications from a current perspective, particularly from the BBC. Have a look on YouTube to see what you can find.

Watch psychological films or listen to psychology podcasts – internet search engines are a good place to start if you are unsure what to watch/listen to or ask your teacher for recommendations.

Attend free lectures or seminars – keep an eye out for adverts from universities that host student days.

Read books from the suggested reading list provided in your Student Subject Handbook or ask you teacher for recommendations.

Consider how the content we are covering in Psychology might apply to your other subject areas and seek cross-cultural links. Also think about how the content may apply in your own life and speak to friends and family about this.


Of course we recognise that our students have busy lives and that this level of engagement is not always possible all the time - but this is what you should aim for if you want to reach the highest level in the subject. You don’t need to do ALL of these things to improve - just doing one or two of them will have an impact. Decide on two or three to focus on to improve your skills.