Advice from Psychology

In Psychology we have covered the importance of having high self-efficacy. If I challenged you to think back to a personal experience in which you had been successful, most of us would recognise that when we have been thinking positively, we have succeeded. Positive thinking will help to accomplish your goals. The same applies to revision and exams. Once you are mentally prepared – it’s time to get organised!

At AS level create a mind map for each topic e.g. research methods, memory, attachment, stress, social influence and abnormality. For each mind map include; a detailed description of the theory; supporting or contradictory evidence and; an evaluation of the evidence (strengths and weaknesses). Mindmapping is a really useful strategy for revision because it uses lots of different parts of your brain – you are using words, colours, images, spatial connections. It can make complex ideas more understandable and memorable. Secondly, reduce your mindmaps to essential key points onto cue/index cards. ‘Chunk’ the information into manageable pieces. Write the description of a study or theory on one side (AO1) and the evaluative points on the reverse (AO2). Vary the font, CAPITALISE, use colour, add diagrams, arrows and highlights. Try cutting your cue cards into different shapes – a car shape for Loftus and Palmer or a monkey for Harlow. Get someone at home to test you.

When you have spent sufficient time on a topic the next stage is to practice exam questions. You should not go into the exam and be surprised by anything. You should be familiar with the style of question and writing to a given amount of time in the practices we have been running after-school but you can never do too many practice papers. Log onto: http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/psychology/as-and-a-level/psychology-a-2180/past-papers-and-mark-schemes and once you have attempted some of the past papers, have a look at the examiners comments for questions that you found particularly difficult.

The specification is a great tool as this is your roadmap and details exactly what you need to know. A copy can be found at http://filestore.aqa.org.uk/subjects/specifications/alevel/AQA-2180-W-SP-14.PDF Your next task is to plan model essay answers for all the possible 12 mark essay questions that can come up. In PSYA1 you will get asked one 12 mark question with a host of 6, 8 or even 10 markers as well. In PSYA2 you could get asked more than one 12 mark question too along with 6, 8 or even 10 markers, the aim is the same – create model 12 mark essays for all the questions that you can. The 12 marker is worth the most amount of marks with 6 marks for theory and 6 marks for evaluation. Repetition is the key here, revision should be an active process, passively sitting and reading will do you little good.

Learning is about doing, if you want information to stick then you have to use it and change it in some way.
Finally, a method that more and more students are finding useful, that can be used on the bus, train or during any spare 5-10 minutes at home or school, is the Psychology revision app. It contains summaries of all of the content on the specification, quizzes and challenges to test and reinforce knowledge and understanding and practice exam questions. Details can be found at: http://www.illuminatepublishing.com/psychapp/

Revison Tips

Exam-Newsletter-27th-March-1

Into Your Stride?

A Tale of Two Students

I have asked a number of students how their revision is going over the last week and have been pleased that the majority are making use of their Weekly Work Plans to organise their time and prioritise their work.

One pupil who has made excellent progress since the trial exams reported that he has developed a really helpful rhythm and feels pleased with the progress he has made. He can then really enjoy his time off with a feeling of a job well done.

However, another very able student confessed that although he religiously filled in his plan he then largely ignored it and often ended up wasting time during study periods. I replied that examiners do not judge candidates on the quality of their plans but their answers.

One method to avoid this common trap is to share your plans with parents and report honestly on progress. It is vital to display your plan in a shared area of your home and to also keep a copy in your file or bag. Setting alerts on your phone might also help!

It is also vital to ensure that you plan the use of study periods in school with great care. It is obviously vital to make clear what subject you will be studying and what tasks you will undertake. I also recommend choosing a room in which to work in advance.

Making best use of Exam Practice

Both A-Level and GCSE students have a number of opportunities to practise their exam skills in the coming weeks. It is a good idea to prioritise revision for these subjects as you get to really test your knowledge and abilities and will also benefit from marking feedback.

The forthcoming Year 11 exam timetable is given overleaf.

Using Past Exams

Many students also benefit from taking a second attempt at a paper they have already sat. Before you try this make sure you have looked at where you failed to gain marks in the first attempt and revise

these areas. You should obviously also make use of any feedback you received from teachers. Having tried the exam the second time around use a mark scheme to judge your efforts or even better mark the paper with a friend.

Use the Mark Scheme

I was very impressed to see some 6th form students using mark schemes to add to their revision notes this week. By looking at what information and skills the examiners are looking for in a C or A grade answer, you can decide what you need to include in your notes, mind maps or model answers.

P A Ramsey