How to Achieve an A* in Psychology A-Level

Students achieving A/A* in Psychology over the past few years have shared some or all of the following traits:

  • Regular revision – Notes written up after class, testing self on a weekly basis and using distributed practise rather than waiting for mocks.
  • Extra essays – Students who as part of their revision write the possible 16 mark essays up perfectly to create their own bank and hand it in to be checked by teachers in addition to their homework.
  • Questioning – in terms of looking at their marks and where you’ve dropped marks in addition to asking questions in class to challenge and push concepts
  • Using a multiple of resources – such as Quizlet, Tutor2u revision videos, the quick tests in the online textbook
  • Past papers – every single one – even on the old spec where you must check your own answers using the mark scheme and look at the example answers
  • Timed assessments focusing on short answers only – as these are actually the questions that make up the majority of the paper 

To get an A/A* overall you will need to reach ‘Level 4’ of the mark schemes. ‘Level 4’ incorporates the following qualities – 

Straightforward essay questions that are on every exam paper.

  • PEEL PARAGRAPHS –  What is your point, constant and confident links to the question/debate
  • Aim, Procedure, results of a study – it’s good if you know one section but it’s great if you know them all for each main study (Ace your AO1)
  • Sentence starters – tell the examiner which way your paragraph is going (positive or negative?).  Give them the hint.
  • Refer to the STEM!!! (If there is one) 
  • Use full words and watch your grammar – i.e. ‘laboratory’ not ‘lab’‘conducted’ not ‘did’

For short mark questions 

  • Read every question three times
  • Highlight trigger words within the questions
  • Remember to use key terminology
  • Look at how many marks it’s worth – figure out how many points you will need to write based on it and then do not waffle

Extra reading & support – a few more ideas…

  • Tutor2u (http://www.tutor2u.net/psychology– the website has every topic condensed into key information, there are quizzes on there and there are video tutorials – all for free.  In addition, there is a Facebook group ‘A Level Psychology student Group’
  • Quizlet (https://quizlet.com/) – People have already done the hard work for you!  Just make an account and test yourself
  • Simply Psychology (http://www.simplypsychology.org/) – detailed notes with videos and further links of reading embedded

Good Luck!


Shelly is a Psychology tutor with Newman Tuition, and has been both Head of Psychology and a Deputy Head of 6th Form. To book a lesson with her, or one of our other excellent tutors, please call us on 020 3198 8006, email us at [email protected], or complete the form on the ‘Contact Us’ page.