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AQA A-Level Psychology: Maximising Student Outcomes in the Exam Papers

Course Code:


Irrespective of how well staff prepare students for the AQA exam papers in A-Level Psychology, each year many marks are lost because of poor exam technique or quite simply students not knowing exactly what a question is asking for. This new course will look at the different types of questions featured across the 3 exam papers and how the initial reading and dissecting of a question is key to answering in the way that the question setter intended it to be answered. Focus will start on where and how students struggle, with particular emphasis on strategies, approaches and techniques which are effective in developing their knowledge, application and performance. There will be examples of answers from across a range of units to illustrate the differences between high scoring answers and mediocre answers, which, when grade boundaries are very ‘tight’, could mean the loss of one or more grade. Examples are taken from the AQA examination, but the course will be of benefit to all teachers of A-Level Psychology.


  • Review exam feedback to Identify the main areas where students lose marks when answering exam questions
  • Identify the range of question types across all three exam papers
  • Focus on how to extract information from a question to allow access to all the marks available
  • Analysing how; a lack of examples, repetition of information, failure to focus on key terms, insufficient points and vague comments can impact the final outcome
  • Gain new strategies to boost subject knowledge and understanding
  • Increase students’ ability to track their progress and how to intervene successfully
  • Develop an understanding of accurate staff and peer marking


Preparing Students for A-Level Examination

10.00 – 10.40am
  • Overview of good practice in preparation for any exam series; reflection, knowledge and skills audit, action plan, set targets and reflect/review regularly using trackers, long term planning,  question matrix per each topic/paper, revision aids
  • Using historical centre-based information to address issues with the current cohort
  • Identifying and addressing misconceptions with Assessment Objectives
  • Strategies for helping students to deal with and retain theoretical knowledge of Psychology

Exploring the Different Types of Questions across the Exam Papers

10.40 – 11.20am
  • Identifying the range of question types; multiple choice, short structured, longer structured, data response and extended synoptic questions
  • Developing student’s exam skills; scaffolding, part paragraphs, model answers, write a mid-band response, structure strips, essay feedback sheets, using technology and developing literacy
  • Deepening the understanding of command words, the impact on an answer when the command word in a question is not accurately addressed


11.20 – 11.35am

Extracting the Correct Information from the Questions

11.35 – 12.15pm
  • A question is more than just a test of subject knowledge – how to ensure that students dissect a question correctly
  • Strategies to standardise the dissection of a question across different units
  • Strategies for selecting appropriate content and utilising effective presentation for both structured and extended questions
  • How students can monitor their own exam technique in homework and assessment tasks



12.15 – 1.15pm

Strategies to Stretch and Challenge Able

1.15 – 1.55pm
  • Scaffolding with AO2 application and AO3 evaluation – ensuring they facts and knowledge do not dominate a response
  • Exemplar lesson strategies to challenge students’ ability to apply and say why
  • Review top level answers. How can these be used in the classroom to stretch and challenge

Developing Lower Ability Students

1.55 – 2.35pm
  • Significant support activities for lower ability students: where and why do they struggle with A-Level Psychology
  • Exemplar lesson strategies for the less able student – addressing how to apply and evaluate.
  • Supporting students in a synoptic approach to learning: picking up key marks throughout the course
  • Boosting knowledge and application of challenging topics

Afternoon Break

2.35 – 2.40pm

Effective and Rapid Feedback for All: Accurate Staff and Peer Marking

2.40 – 3.10pm
  • The use of appropriate and meaningful annotation to give students the greatest amount of accurate information to help them improve their answers
  • Using peer assessment activities to empower the learner with the mark scheme
  • Explore interactive website, apps and technology which support the feedback process in dry yet demanding topics

Exam Strategies for All

3.10 – 3.40pm
  • Review example answers on the smaller mark questions
  • Ensure less able students secure the AO1 and AO2 marks, using exemplar responses
  • Preparing students to succeed on the ‘discuss’ questions
  • Explore models to embed exam technique into lessons


London | Monday 20 November 2023
London | Monday 05 February 2024

Please select your preferred date

London | Monday 20 November 2023
London | Monday 05 February 2024

This course, tailored to suit, can be delivered in your school. Discuss this further with our CPD team on 01625 532974 or click below to make an enquiry.


Harriet Ennis is an experienced teacher with over 15 years of leading a Psychology department. She is a ‘Lead Teacher’ co-ordinating ‘stretch and challenge’ in her current school and has been an external examiner for AQA.


  • Heads of Psychology
  •  All teachers of A-Level Psychology


  • A specially prepared folder of detailed notes, practical advice and guidance
  • Notes prepared by the educational experts leading the course
  • Expert produced PowerPoint presentations
  • CPD Certificate of attendance

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