Tips & Tricks blog

How to Revise for Psychology A-Level – Proven A* Strategy

Aug 8, 2023

Let me guess. You picked Psychology A-level because it sounded interesting and didn’t want to die of boredom for 2 years. But, then realised how tricky it was to learn all the information in the syllabus and perform well in essays.

I don’t blame you. On average, exam board verified textbooks for AQA, Edexcel, WJEC and OCR contain a whopping 360,000 words. The content itself isn’t difficult to learn, but most students struggle to retain the sheer volume of information squeezed into these books.

If you do find the motivation to get through the content, then comes the challenge of (1) writing top quality essays and (2) figuring out if you’ve hit AO1, AO2 and AO3.

You’ve probably realised by now that marking your own essay is a lost cause. Also, you can’t fully trust your teacher’s marking either because they are teachers not examiners.

Having helped thousands of A-level Psychology students across 16 years, we’ve found solutions to all of the above problems.

In a nutshell, our approach involves learning the content front to back using the Scribble Technique, and then using a clever Essay Feedback Loop process to perfect essay technique.

As always, the devil is in the detail, so we created this step by step guide that will show you exactly what to do between now and exams to secure A*-A…

1. Get the right textbooks

Thankfully, most A-level Psychology textbooks are pretty decent. They are well structured and cover most if not all the current syllabus. Plug your subjects and exam board into Yojana, and it will list every learning resource you need.

Buy, borrow or print all of these.

2. Calculate how many pages you need to cover each day

Before tackling past paper questions, it’s important that you systematically learn each and every page in your textbook using the Scribble Technique.

This will take some time and it’s important that you finish well before your first exam. The weeks leading up to exams should only be devoted to practice questions.

To make sure you finish on time, calculate how many textbook pages you should learn each day/week across all your subjects. Yojana can do this for you with a click of a button, or you can use the following formula:

3. Start from page 1 and work through the textbook using the Scribble Technique

Start from page 1 and use the Scribble Technique to learn each topic. On average, it should take you 13-18 minutes to learn each page.

Here’s a summarised version of the Scribble Technique…

Step 1 – Open the book & read

Start from the top of the page and read the first topic or section.

Don’t glaze over the words and actually read each sentence with the intention to learn. If you catch yourself losing concentration towards the end of a sentence or paragraph, go back and re-read.

Step 2 – Shut the book & scribble

Grab a pen and pad then scribble down everything you remember. It doesn’t need to be neat and tidy. It’s going in the bin and you’re not going to be filing this piece of paper in a folder somewhere.

The whole point of the Scribble Technique is to learn information directly from the examboard verified textbook without spending hours writing pretty notes.

When scribbling, it should feel like you are explaining the information back to yourself in a way you understand. Never attempt to learn the textbook word for word.

Be stubborn, and don’t move on to the next step until you have exhausted every corner of your memory.

Step 3 – Check what you forgot/got wrong

Open the textbook and have another read. Here’s where you can fill the gaps in your knowledge and pick up some of the key phrases you missed the first time round.

Step 4 – Shut the book & scribble again

Repeat step 2, only this time, only Scribble down the the stuff you missed or got wrong.

Step 5 – Complete summary or end of topic questions

Complete and mark any practice questions you come across.

Follow the 5-step process above to learn every page in your textbook(s). Avoid cherrypicking and assume everything is relevent.

Across 16 years, of all the students who successfully worked through the textbook using the above process, not a single one of them received a grade lower than a B. Of those who then completed their past papers and used the Essay Feedback Loop process, 94% received an A or higher.

Learning your textbooks using the Scribble Technique is the single most important thing you can do. Unfortunately, most students cannot motivate themselves to do this. Let’s face it, even as one of the most interesting A-levels, spending hours learning all of the content takes a lot of will power. Many full grown adults would find it hard too!

However, this is the only way you can almost guarantee a top grade. So, if you decide to use our approach, but days or weeks pass without any progress, contact us for help!

Worst case you lose 10 minutes talking to us, and best case we provide the key that unlocks your motivation and gets you on the path to A*-As.

4. Create an exam paper database

Learning your textbooks front to back will almost guarantee a B. Now it’s time to apply that knowledge and get you into the A*-A range.

Open up a spreadsheet and fill it with all available past papers. Use this template…

5. Start the Essay Feedback Loop

Most students don’t work through Psychology past papers correctly. We’ll show you how to get it right. Print all the papers out, open up the oldest one and follow these steps…

Step 1 – Complete all short answer questions on paper

Short answer questions are 1-8 markers. Write these answers with a pen or pencil in the space provided.

No need to place a time limit on the paper. Take as long as you like and focus on capturing as many marks as possible.

Step 2 – Write the answers to long answer questions/essays in Word or Google Docs

Type your answers for 12-16 mark questions out on your computer. I’ll tell you why in a second.

Step 3 – Send your essay to a A-level Psychology examiner

Print screen the question and paste it above your essay. Then print screen the relevent section of the mark scheme, paste it below your essay and then send it to your examiner.

Psychology AQA examiner essay marking

How to find an A-level Psychology examiner?

Every step outlined above doesn’t require spending any money whatsoever. However, after you’ve completed your essays, the only way to get an accurate mark is to pay an official examiner to mark it for you.

You can either find one yourself or reach out to us. We have two senior AQA examiners in our team who will not only mark your essay, but provide a full video walk through of it, explaining exactly what you need to improve to reach A* standard.

A-level Psychology essay marking feedback examiner

If you want your essays marked by them…

1. Open up the chat on the bottom right hand corner

2. Send us the word ‘examiner’

3. Enter your contact details and we’ll be in touch

Step 4 – Mark the short answer questions yourself

Be fair. Giving yourself full marks every time is great for your ego, but won’t help you improve.

Read, cover up and scribble down all the stated points in the mark scheme. Most students skip this step because they are in a hurry to find out their overall mark – huge mistake.

psychology alevel mark scheme

Using the Scribble Technique to learn your mark scheme is the best way to improve exam technique.

Top students spend more time learning the mark scheme and reading the examiner’s report than actually doing the paper itself!

Tally your marks up and enter these under Mark 1 in your exam paper database.

Step 5 – Complete all short answer questions again

Redo the paper again, but this time pretend that more marks are available than actually stated. For example, if you see a 2 mark question, assume its a 4 or 5 mark question.

characteristics of depression psychology a level question past paper

If you did step 3 properly, then you’ll finish the paper in half the time.

Step 6 – Mark short answer questions again

Enter your new mark under mark 2 in the exam paper database. Your mark 2 should be significantly higher than mark 1. If it isn’t, something is going wrong – drop us a message using our chat function with the message “mark 2 < mark 1”.

Step 7 – Improve essay and send back to examiner

Enter the first mark the examiner gave you into Mark 1 in your exam paper database.

Then adjust the essay based on the examiner’s feedback and send it back to them. Keep repeating this process until you have secured full marks.

Place the final essay into a folder in your computer – this will be your essay bank. You’ll need this in the weeks and days before your exam.

Step 8 – Read the official examiner’s report

These are usually available on the exam board’s website.

6. Fill knowledge gaps

By around March, most of our tutees will have completed the following:

  1. Learnt all pages in textbooks front to back using the Scibble Technique
  2. Completed and marked all summary and end of topic questions in the textbook
  3. Completed all past papers twice and entered marks into exam paper database
  4. Assembled an essay bank with 50+ essays

If you’ve ticked all of the above off then you are almost guaranteed an A.

To push yourself to an A*, all you need to do is fill in your knowledge gaps and continuously repeat past papers under exam conditions.

How do you fill knowledge gaps? By now you will know exactly where your weakenesses are and can ask for help in specific areas.

Take a screenshot of all the past paper questions you had trouble with and paste them into a word document. Print this out and ask a teacher or tutor for help.

As Psychology tutors, we can provide step by step guidance on all syllabuses. If you need help, feel free to drop us a message on the chat on the bottom right of the screen.



Yojana, our personalised study strategy, shows you when, what and how to achieve top grades in each of your subjects. Give it a go below!