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Psychology

Welcome to A Level Psychology

Pre-course preparation

What do our students say about Psychology?

I have enjoyed the wide variety of topics we have studied in Psychology so far – you will definitely find something that interests you. I particularly enjoyed the Psychopathology topic, in which we discussed phobias, depression and OCD. I also love that the Psychology department gives us workbooks at the beginning of every topic, with all the lessons included in it. For students like me, who can get quite anxious about being picked to answer a question in lesson, it is very useful to have a general idea of what will be covered in that lesson beforehand, so you can feel a bit more prepared.

Before I started the course, I underestimated the number of experiments and studies I would have to learn. This was daunting at first but has become easier as the year has gone on.

My best advice for new students is make sure you keep up to date with your work – it is a huge step up from GCSE, so it is very easy to fall behind, especially to begin with. Another piece of advice would be to not worry! I remember being nervous at the beginning of Year 12, but I personally prefer Sixth Form to main school. There is a lot more freedom and, if you choose your subjects wisely, you should not mind the extra effort you have to put in to do well.

I also study History and Biology and am doing an EPQ in how music can help people with dementia. Studying Psychology at A Level has reaffirmed my choice of career. I am planning to study Psychology at university after Sixth Form. Although I am not entirely sure which area I want to eventually get into, I am particularly interested in clinical psychology and mental health therapy.

As well as her A Levels, Lydia loves performing arts, especially musical theatre, and is a regular in school productions.

The best thing about A Level Psychology is that it’s really interesting to understand how your own mind works and getting to learn why people do certain things.
In the course there are a lot of case studies and key pieces of research to learn. You have to be prepared to revise them properly as any random piece of research could be needed in an exam. The other important thing to know is that you need to make sure you learn how to get the marks in an essay. You need to know how much content to write for each assessment objective otherwise you just end up wasting time.
Alongside Psychology I study Biology and Chemistry A Level, and am doing an EPQ. There are clear links between Psychology and Biology, with the option to do part of my final Biology exam on neuroscience topics. I plan to do a Biosciences degree at university, but haven’t decided what I want to specialise in..

Drew's study of Psychology alongside Biology and Chemistry will allow her to pursue a Biosciences degree at university.

Despite science being my least favourite subject in secondary school, I thoroughly enjoy the more scientific areas of Psychology A Level. My favourite topic is biopsychology as you learn very interesting things about the brain, from localisation of brain function (the idea that different parts of the brain are responsible for different things e.g. memory and personality) to neuroplasticity (the idea that the brain can change its structure due to new learning experiences or injury).

I wish I would have known at the start of Year 12 that the course gets a lot more interesting as you go on. For example, in Year 13 you learn about forensic psychology (which is about criminal behaviour and investigation) and schizophrenia which are both very fascinating topics.

The advice I would give to Year 12 students is to be organised. I personally like to use a calendar to plan out when I will do homework or revision, this ensures nothing is left until the last minute. Free periods are also very important to use for any work you have to do, this will mean you have less to do at home and more time to relax. As well as this, I would recommend looking into revision guides as they help when making revision notes.

The other subjects I studied were Sociology and Health and Social Care. Sociology does have a couple of cross overs with Psychology (for example Research Methods), I am glad I picked both.

I plan to study a Psychology degree at the University of Manchester, I then hope to study a Masters in Neuroimaging, however I am excited to see where my Psychology course will take me. Studying Psychology at A Level will help me because I already have some understanding of the topics I will learn about in more depth at university.

Nia is planning to study Psychology at the University of Manchester and then specialise in Neuroimaging

After Sixth Form Hannah has continued studying Psychology for her degree

I knew I wanted to take Psychology even before I did my GCSEs so it was really interesting to start learning and understanding more about the brain and why people behave the way they do. It was also good to start understanding what areas I would like to study further after A Levels such as cognitive psychology.

I wish I had known at the start of Psychology in Year 12 how important research methods are and how you need them across all sections of Psychology, especially if you want to do Psychology after A level as well. I would definitely recommend taking research methods seriously even if it’s not your favourite section. Another key thing that you will learn quickly when you start A Levels is what you put in is what you get out so if you work hard from the get go you will be rewarded at the end.

When I started in Year 12, the jump in content compared to Year 11 feels massive at first so the best thing I can suggest is organisation and using the time you have in lessons to fully understand the topic, instead of trying to learn it all when revising. Doing GCSEs it’s easier to learn content during revision but all 3 A Levels take up a lot of time.

I studied Biology and English Literature along with Psychology. I feel as though these subjects really complemented each other as Biology goes more in depth about certain aspects of Psychology, ie synapses and the brain. Being able to understand these topics more in depth from Biology developed my understanding of Psychology. English Literature helped me develop my essay writing skills that are essential in Psychology.

Since leaving Sixth Form I have started a degree in Psychology at Edge Hill University, so obviously doing Psychology A Level benefited me in understanding the university course. I hope in the future to become further trained in Psychology and hopefully start a career working towards becoming a Psychologist or working in a similar area. Doing A Level Psychology definitely puts you a foot in the right direction for progressing in many career pathways as it is very versatile.