AQA A level Psychology A2 Psya3 & Psya4 Overview Part 2
This article covers A2 section for AQA A level Psychology and gives you an outline of papers 3 and 4 (also known as Psya3 and Psya4).
We then move on to the A2 element of A level psychology which is very different from the first two papers and heavily essay based. You can watch my complete video overview on how to revise for this topic by clicking on this link here – It takes you to Youtube and me explaining how I scored 100% in both AQA A level Psychology A2 papers (Psya3 and Psya4). I will also post it here if you dont wish to leave the website:
Psya3 is completely essay based and you’re required to pick 3 topics from a selection of 8 and answer questions on those 3 topics within the exam. The exam lasts for 1hr 30 minutes which is very tight as your required to write 24 mark answers in 30 minutes each which with enough theory and evaluation. This is a big change from Psya1 and Psya2 where you were answering smaller questions and your essay writing skills are tested. It isn’t actually as hard as it sounds if you have good materials to help you. Don’t worry I have this covered below.
For these topics I would recommend you pick Aggression, Relationships and Sleep and Biological Rhythms. They are the easiest to pick up and learn but also I do most of the work for you by giving you my A* essays for these topics here on this blog. Scoring well in this exam is very possible as you actually only have to write 2 very good essays with the third being simply good enough to score moderate marks – That can still get you an A grade if not A*. Many people see this paper and panic at the amount of content you need to know but with practice its not too difficult. You need to create model essays and then memorise them for this exam ultimately. I have made a video explaining how you can do this here for A2.
One thing that is absolutely crucial in Psya3 is the use of Issues, Debates and Approaches (also known as IDA’s). You can not score in the top band without effective and appropaite use of them in this paper as it says so specifically in the specification that to reach the top banding of marks in Psya3 – you must use these. Well – what are these? A good way I remember them is through the use of the word GRENADE. Its an acronym I use to remember most of the IDA’s you can use with each letter standing for an IDA. Let me show you:
G= Gender bias R=Reductionism E=Ethical Issues N=Nature vs Nurture A=Animal Studies D=Determinism E=Ethnocentrism.
- Gender bias is about research that may favour or bias the results to one gender more.
- Reductionism is about trying to reduce complex elements into simple ones.
- Ethical issues look at the ethical concerns of the study in question.
- Nature vs Nurture is all about highlighting how Nature and evolution or biology may be driving the behaviour or whether it is due to the environment and learning.
- Animal studies looks at whether there are ethical issues arisen through the use of animals or any cruelty that may have occurred but also whether the results or findings can also be generalised to humans too due to differences in anatomy.
- Determinism is about whether behaviour is “determined” already or whether a person actually has any free will of their own.
- Ethnocentrism basically looks at whether a study or studies favour one culture more than another – so for example a lot of studies are based on western cultures but may not apply to eastern cultures due to ethnocentrism.
For Psya3 you need to pick 3 topics out of 8 to study and answer. Giving every possible topic in psya3 and psya4 would take a huge amount of time and space up to show you on this webpage so I have focused only on the topics I recommend for these papers just to give you an understanding of how the specification presents them to you and how you use the information in front of you.
AQA A level Psychology Psya3 – Sleep and Biological Rhythms example
You have the same pattern as AS here with the main chapters on the left and everything that you need to know bullet pointed on the right side. So for example you would need to know about the different rhythms that exist (circadian, infradian and ultradian rhythms etc) as well as the purpose of sleep and its believed functions as well as disorders too.
You need to know how to answer each of these questions as full essays as you can get asked a full essay question that is 24 marks (8 + 16) with 8 marks for theory and 16 marks for evaluation. You can also get asked a smaller question too however one will definitely be bigger and score the bulk of your marks. My advice is get this book that has my A* model essays for Sleep. This effectively saves you the hassle of spending weeks forming your essays from scratch and gives you ready made essays to alter and tweak to your liking. These are the ones that helped me get 100% in this paper also.
This is the AQA A level Psychology Psya3 Relationships topic example
This is what the Relationships topic looks like and it follows a simple pattern. The reason I recommend this topic is the layout of the topic is easy to grasp – Formation, Maintenance and breakdown follows a nice start, middle and end pattern. The other elements fit in nicely too as they are merely about how men and women find each other attractive and how different genders invest different amounts of time into their children.
The last section merely looks at how culture and upbringing affects relationships. Simple! Relationships is one of the most popular topics to choose as theres simply a wealth of resources available on it and that makes sourcing information for the essays much easier. I do that for you in my book if you want to save yourself a few weeks on creating/structuring the essays.
If not I recommend getting more than one textbook for A2 as one single textbook does not have enough information to score high enough in the evaluation sections I feel. One text book is fine but ideally you want more than one – Thats only if you’re serious about scoring an A* grade and top banding marks. My book accompanied with a good textbook such as The Complete Companions: A2 Student Book for AQA A Psychology (Third Edition). This book is excellently written to help you get your head around the theory element. Combined with my Psya3 Relationships book you have enough evaluation to get into the top bracket.
AQA A Level Psychology Psya3 Aggression
This breaks down the aggression topic and its done in a very nice and easy way. You have the 3 main chapters looking at Social Psychological explanations for aggression, Biological explanations for aggression and then finally evolutionary explanations.
That’s a very simple format to follow and remember and knowing how they differ like this is important as many people confuse one question for another and put down the wrong answer. So its best you learn how to tell each topic apart. My very first book I wrote was the Aggression book and gives you all my model A* essays for Psya3 Aggression. Click the image to get the A* essays for it if you wish, they will save you a great deal of time in creating the essays yourself. It was only after I saw the success of this book that I went on to write the others as I had students constantly messaging me for more. Lets take a look at Psya4 now.
AQA A level Psychology Psya4 Overview
Moving on to Paper 4 and the last paper for AQA Psychology A level, this paper is two thirds essay based requiring you to again pick 2 topics you wish to study from a given selection. The most easiest of them all I think is Schizophrenia and Media Psychology as Schizophrenia as an disorder is simple enough to understand as well as the way the questions can be asked too. Psya4 Media Psychology is very easy also – its all about how the media influences us with many of the answers based on theories and concepts we have already learn’t so learning this topic becomes easier too due to this foundation of knowledge we have already. This exam lasts 2 hours in total.
AQA A Level Psychology Psya4 Schizophrenia Overview
For Schizophrenia or any other disorder you may choose to study the format follows in exactly the same way which is demonstrated on the left side in the picture thats taken from the spec. The bullet pointed elements are the questions that can be asked and they remain the same whether you pick Schizophrenia, Depression, Phobic disorders or OCD. Its a nice and simple format to remember with most of it being about psychological explanations and treatments and biological explanations and treatments. You would have learn’t about this already in Psya2 already which makes things easier.
If you do choose Psya4 Schizophrenia you will definitely be needing my book on the side there. It gives you model essay answers for all the questions that can be asked. These are the same ones I used to get full marks in this paper with enough theory and evaluative commentary as well as Issues, debates and approaches to get you in the top banding of marks.
I have mentioned the importance of IDA’s for Psya3. For Psya4 they are not “essential” and part of reaching the top band like they are in Psya3. However you can still use them in Psya4 and I would totally recommend they be used because they are a really easy way of getting lots of easy marks.
AQA A Level Psychology Psya4 Media Psychology Overview
The final essay based topic I will cover for A level Psychology is Media Psychology. You have a selection to choose from however – You can choose Media Psychology as mentioned or The Psychology Of Addictive Behaviour or finally Anomalistic Psychology. Out of the 3 Media Psychology most people will be able to relate to with some knowledge in it already going in. The other topics tend to be ones that may be difficult to get your head around a take a little longer to grasp hence I suggest Media. Questions will vary in size and you can have the 24 marks split into 3 different questions of almost equal size too. It does happen. This topic I personally found very easy to grasp and because of that my essay answers for Psya4 Media Psychology are by far some of my best as I grasped the topic pretty naturally without much effort. I would highly recommend my book on it due to this as it will save you literally weeks worth of creating essays.
AQA A level Psychology Psya4 Research Methods Overview
The worst part of A level Psychology has been research methods. People tend to pick subjects like Psychology because they tend not to like the more technical sciences like Maths or Chemistry too much. So when they see they need to do statistical work in a social science like A level Psychology they tend to panic. I know this because thats exactly how I felt. However the research methods section isn’t too difficult and is in fact a walk in the part with enough practice of the past papers. On the right you just need to focus on the bullet pointed sections – They tell you everything you need to know. Grab a good textbook like The Complete Companions: A2 Student Book for AQA A Psychology (Third Edition)and your life will be much easier. It explains the research methods section the best. I would definitely recommend getting past papers too and then practicing them and cross-comparing against the markscheme. That helped me immensely too.
And that covers our AQA A Level Psychology overview. If you have any questions feel free to post on the website and I will try and assist.