A Level/AS Psychology AQA A 2015 Onwards
The best textbooks for AQA A Psychology and the new specification is not just one textbook – its multiple and I will outline the ones you need. Firstly no single textbook covers everything you need in the way you need it as they all have strengths and weaknesses in one form which will leave you lacking in key areas; for example if one textbook has great explanations, it lacks the depth in evaluation points. If it has the depth you need, it is generally poor at explaining things for you to grasp in the first place and if you can’t grasp something you can’t really write an extended essay answer on it as the exam requires.
To score an A-A* grade in psychology and separate yourself from the students who score C’s and B’s you need to show a high level of breadth (variety) and depth in your knowledge. I myself achieved 100 ums in both A2 exams and have helped thousands of students do the same (see the above pictures) so I have a pretty good understanding of what it takes to hit this top bracket and the top 2%-3% of students. To do this you need more than one single textbook or resource.
First things first – I would definitely recommend this ebook on the right (click) which covers the unit 1 AS/A level psychology exam for the new specification. It covers in immense detail every essay question that can come up in the exam and gives you A-grade model answers for each. The theory and evaluation is broken down perfectly to help you source your answers from in a nice and easy to understand way. You can download it by clicking the image on the right.
The new specification requires textbooks which give you enough information to write up to 16 mark essay answers for 7181/1 (unit 1) and 7181/2 (unit 2) and full essays (24 marks) for unit 3 (7182) and the whole A level. That means you need to have enough theory and evaluation available to source from so you can prepare your own essay answers and this is why having multiple textbooks is important. The ebooks I have written do this; they give you plenty of info to hit these top mark bands. My previous one for the old AS specification (Psya1 and Psya2) were incredibly popular and helped thousands of students like yourself get A grades at AS and A-A* grades at A level.
A good textbook to grasp the theory
In addition to my own resources to help you with your essays, you need a good textbook that makes understanding the concepts of A level psychology easier. The best textbook to use to better your understanding in addition to my own without a doubt is Cara Flanagan’s “complete companion” series books (currently on the fourth edition) They are really good at helping you grasp the concepts and theories and they really helped me better my own understanding too. Combined with my own essays you will have the theoretical knowledge, understanding as well as the depth you need to form your small and big essay answers. You can get the complete companion textbook by clicking the image below; This covers A level year 1 and AS for both sets of students. Year 2 is due soon and if it’s anything like Cara’s previous books, it should make understanding psychology much less painful as Cara and Mike really make the theory simple to grasp.
(For students sitting their A2 exams in 2016)
As of right now if your sitting unit 3 and unit 4 in 2016, the best textbooks are without a doubt the ones I have written. At A level its all about essay writing and most the exams are essay based except unit 4 which is two thirds essay based with research methods. Again Cara’s complete companion book is great to understand the theory but to write essays worth 24 marks you need tons of theory and even more evaluation points. You also need sufficient “Issues, debates and approaches” within your essays all written effectively as without this you cant hit the top bands. This is why the ebooks I have written are so popular; You get ready made A* grade essays which you simply reword into your own words for the exams and memorise them. Now some students and even teachers complain this is ineffective as you are simply “rote-learning” – Wrong. Believe me when I say after practicing your essays repeatedly it sinks in to a whole new level as there is no way you can recall something you don’t fully understand. Practice and repetition makes people comfortable with what they are writing about and once you get a bit comfortable with it you understand it easier too. Ultimately don’t take my word for it – just look at all the student messages/pictures/tweets/emails I get which highlight it is effective in learning.
You can download my A* model essay textbooks using the tab above. Most the popular psya3/psya4 topics are covered and the new specifications textbooks are due in 2016 for the students who will be sitting them in 2017.
In addition to my own, Cara Flanagan and Mike Cardwell will be releasing their A level equivalent in 2016 and that is without a doubt the one to use to better your understanding there. Once it’s out I will drop a link here so students know which up to date textbook to get.
As always, if you have questions tweet/email/or comment here and I am never too far to help.