Psychology A-Level revision tips, from someone who got an A

It’s the most intriguing social science, but also the hardest to revise. Psychology presents students with a million studies to learn verbatim, and has us use that info for essay-style questions. I struggled to remember everything, too. That is until I created four fool-proof revision methods that hacked my way to victory over the exams. I got an A, and here’s how I did it.

Cheat Sheets

Write out your notes. My exam board had students memorise the methodology, results and conclusions of each study, so the first thing you need to do is organise all that material effectively.

I typed each study onto my laptop, and then handwrote them, before typing them up again. Each time a new document was created, my notes were condensed. The process was lengthy but incredibly worth it, as typing things out over and over again helps you to start memorising the information. The ten thousand words turned into two thousand, making the information much more manageable.

Eventually, you’ll need to collate all your notes in a grand document. Finished that? Good, now condense it again. You need to repeat this process until you’re memorising only the most important details. If you don’t follow this method, you risk having to learn an obscene amount of info for each case study, which is nonsensical.

The next step forms a logical progression – from cheat sheet to…

Flashcards

Condense your notes even further – this time, summarising the key info with trigger words.

I split each flashcard into sections that corresponded with ‘method’, ‘results’ and ‘conclusion’, among others. For example, for Freud’s study of Little Hans, the method was ‘case study’; for the results, I wrote ‘giraffe dream’; ‘Oedipus complex’ represented the conclusion. Trigger words like these encouraged me to actively recall more information, rather than relying on it being handed to me outright.

Even better, you can pass the flashcards onto unsuspecting family members. Have them read out the trigger word, leaving you to fill in the blanks.

Record Yourself

Now that your notes are sorted, it’s time to start recording. No, nobody likes how they sound, but listening to yourself reading out your notes, as you continue to write them out, again and again, is worth the pain of hearing your own voice.

This is effective because it engages multiple senses at once while revising, which works to stimulate your brain more effectively, helping convert short-term to long-term memories. Or in simpler terms, it’ll help you learn quicker. And if you figure out how to employ your senses of touch and taste while revising Psych, even better.

Games: Subject-Content Matching

My final tip? Play games. You’d usually make fun of your teacher for suggesting this, but in reality, they’re incredibly effective ways of mixing up revision. What’s even better is that they’re super-easy to carry out.

The Subject-Content Matching Game has you print out two sheets of paper; one with the names of every study you’re revising, and the other with a summary of each one’s content. So, for Freud’s ‘Little Hans’ study, your boxes would read ‘Freud’ and ‘Little Hans’ dreams’. Lay out all the boxes in a pile, mix them up, and get matching.

Alter the game as you please, depending on what your exam board has you memorise. I had to learn whether studies were biological, cognitive, or developmental psychology, so substituted the ‘content’ boxes for ‘Psychology type’ to help with my learning. It’s crucial that you play this game every evening as a break from the constant note-writing because it will act as a test of your knowledge. It’s one thing to learn content, and a whole other thing entirely to put it into practice.

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