AQA AS Psychology Paper 1 Overview
September 2015 Students Onwards.
The new specification for AQA A psychology has started to be taught from September 2015 with the AS component being introduced first. Students studying from September will start this new AS component and sit the exams in 2016 while students who sat AS this year (2015) will move on to sit the old specifications A2 papers in 2016.
AS psychology students will then move on to sit the full A level component (for those that choose to continue to A level that is) in 2017 which is the following year. Currently the old AS psychology papers (Psya1 and Psya2) are available only for students resitting their AS exams in 2016. If you’re one of these students you can grab my revision resources here. Check out the Psya1 and Psya2 ebooks specifically which cover these papers for all AS re-take students. The last opportunity to sit these will be in 2016.
AS Psychology 7181/1 Unit 1 Broken Down
The new layout of unit 1 focuses on 3 topics if your doing AS only and 4 topics if you’re doing the whole A level. Most of the topics are familiar if you’re a teacher and even if you’re not, it’s good news as I estimate 75%-80% of the AS section of the old psychology specification has been carried over. The first AS psychology paper has the unit code 7181/1 which replaces the old code of Psya1.
The 3 main topics covered in AS psychology unit 1 are:
- Social Influence (AS)
- Memory (AS)
- Attachment (AS)
- Psychopathology (A Level students only)
Lets break down each topic so you know what they consist of:
Social Influence (AS)
- Types of conformity: internalisation, identification and compliance.
- Explanations for conformity: informational social influence and normative social influence, and variables affecting conformity including group size, unanimity and task difficulty as investigated by Asch.
- Conformity to social roles as investigated by Zimbardo.
- Explanations for obedience: Agentic state and legitimacy of authority, and situational variables affecting obedience including proximity, location and uniform, as investigated by Milgram. Dispositional explanation for obedience: the Authoritarian Personality.
- Explanations of resistance to social influence, including social support and locus of control.
- Minority influence including reference to consistency, commitment and flexibility.
- The role of social influence processes in social change.
- The multi-Store Memory Model: Sensory register, short-term memory, long-term memory. Features of each store: coding, capacity and duration.
- Types of long-term memory: Episodic, semantic, procedural.
- The working memory model: Central executive, phonological loop, visuo-spatial sketchpad and episodic buffer. Features of the model: coding and capacity.
- Explanations for forgetting: proactive and retroactive interference and retrieval failure due to absence of cues.
- Factors affecting the accuracy of eyewitness testimony: Misleading information,including leading questions and post-event discussion: anxiety.
- Improving the accuracy of eyewitness testimony, including the use of the cognitive interview.
- Caregiver-infant interactions in humans: Reciprocity and interactional synchrony. Stages of attachment identified by Schaffer. Multiple attachments and the role of the father.
- Animal studies of attachment: Lorenz and Harlow.
- Explanations of attachment: Learning history and Bowlby’s Monotropic theory. The concepts of a critical period and an internal working model.
- Ainsworth’s “strange situation”. Types of attachment: Secure, Insecure-avoidant and insecure-resistant. Cultural variations in attachment, including Van Ijzendoorn.
- Bowlby’s theory of maternal deprivation. Romanian orphan studies: effects of institutionalisation.
- The influence of early attachment on childhood and adult relationships, including the role of an internal working model.
Psychopathology (A Level)
AS students will cover this in the second psychology exam (unit 2).
- Definitions of abnormality, including deviation from social norms, failure to function adequately, statistical infrequency and deviation from ideal mental health.
- The behavioural, emotional and cognitive characteristics of phobias, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
- The behavioural approach to explaining and treating phobias: the two-process model, including classical and operant conditioning; systematic desensitisation, including relaxation and use of hierarchy; flooding.
- The cognitive approach to explaining and treating depression: Beck’s negative triad and Ellis’s ABC model; cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), including challenging irrational thoughts.
- The biological approach to explaining and treating OCD: genetic and neural explanations; drug therapy.
Just to clarify; If you are doing the whole A level for psychology you will learn all the topics above all in paper 1 while if you’re doing only AS and no further, you will learn Social Influence, Memory and Attachment in paper 1 (aka Unit 1 or 7181/1) and also psychopathology but it will form part of paper 2 (aka Unit 2 or 7181/2). The only main difference between AS and A level over the first two exam papers is therefore the layout of where psychopathology is learn’t and A level students are also required to learn Biopsychology in paper 2 (AS students do not have to learn this in paper 2).
New Exam Codes For AS Psychology
The psychology exam codes/paper codes for AS have also changed. Previously paper 1 and 2 were known as Psya1 and Psya2. They are now known as 7181/1 for paper 1 and 7181/2 for paper 2.
Exam dates for 7181/1 and 7181/2 and additional information
AS exams are usually almost always in May for both Units. The A level exam should be in June as historically the A2 exams have occurred in the following month.
Both AS units are 1 hour 30 minutes each.
The first set of exams for the new psychology specification will be as follows:
- 7181/1 = 1hour 30 minutes – 16th May 2016 – PM/Afternoon exam.
- 7181/2 = 1hour 30 minutes – 23rd May 2016 – PM/Afternoon exam.
- Both exams are out of 72 marks.
- There are 3 sections in both papers; Sections A, Section B and Section C.
- Each of these sections are out of 24 marks and consist of multiple choice questions, short-answers and extended writing “essay” questions.
- Each AS exam paper is worth 50% as it is over two papers however if you choose to do the full A level for psychology, each exam paper is worth 33.3% and spread over 3.
Assessment objectives for AQA AS Psychology
Assessment objectives (AOs) are set by Ofqual and are the same across all AS and A-level Psychology specifications and all exam boards. The exams will measure how students have achieved the following assessment objectives.
• AO1: Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, processes, techniques and procedures.
• AO2: Apply knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, processes, techniques and procedures:
• In a theoretical context
• In a practical context
• When handling qualitative data
• When handling quantitative data.
• AO3: Analyse, interpret and evaluate scientific information, ideas and evidence, including in relation to issues, to:
• make judgements and reach conclusions
• develop and refine practical design and procedures.
If you still struggle, you can download the specification here – This should assist you in understanding what is required first hand.
You can get an overview of the new AS Unit 2 (7181/2) which covers Psychology in context here. This is for students learning the new AS specification from September 2015 onwards.