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Psychology experiences a large decline in AS entries. How has the new linear A-Level affected Psychology?

Joseph Sparks

18th August 2016

The day has finally arrived and the A-Level results are now in. While today was a particularly stressful day for both teachers and students, the new linear A-Level added a greater sense of worry to this year’s results.

However, now that the envelopes are open and university choices are being finalised, we can start to unravel the initial impact of the new linear A-Level on the results and the number of A-Level Psychology entries for the three major exam boards.

Please note that these figures are taken from the provisional results and are subject to change, albeit slightly.

Overall Entries

Most of us assumed that the launch of the new linear A-Level would affect the number of exam entries and we were right. Overall exam entries dropped by 32%, while OCR and Edexcel saw significantly larger declines of 53% and 36% respectively. AQA has always been the most popular exam board for Psychology and while their numbers also declined, they didn’t suffer the impact as badly as the other two exam boards. This was helped by the fact that AQA had two legacy Specifications, A and B, which were collapsed this year.

How has the new linear A-Level affected Psychology?


The number of high grades (A-B) has declined for all three exam boards and this is partially expected with the launch of a new specification, as teachers and students require time to adjust to the new style of examination. Furthermore, the lack of past examinations makes predicting the type and style of questions particularly difficult. While high grades declined, Edexcel saw a slight increase in the percentage of A Grades (1.3%). In addition, the A-C pass rate has also declined for all three exam boards, with AQA witnessing the largest decline of 4.55%.

While this analysis paints a slightly gloomy picture of the results, it must be noted that the data for 2016 is provisional and secondly, many of these findings are only small changes here and there. However, for this cohort of students, this is only the beginning…

What’s next?

This year’s students performed as expected and the uncertainty of a new specification for teachers and students appears to have affected the results in all key categories. However, these students will be the first students taking the full linear A-Level and those continuing with Psychology will be examined on all of their learning from this year, as well as the new additional Year 2 content.

Furthermore, the AS examinations for many exam boards were quite similar to the old specifications and it’s the Year 2 specification that has seen a significant overhaul in each of the major exam boards.

Therefore, the emphasis for teachers and students will be to:

  • Continually revise and revisit Year 1 content
  • Continually assess knowledge and understanding of both previous and current learning
  • Review this year’s exam, mark scheme and examiner’s report to gain an insight into the examination process

How can we help?

At tutor2u we are committed to providing guidance, support and advice for teachers and students of A-level Psychology. We have currently expanded our team of outstanding practitioners to develop a range of new resources to help both teachers and students with their linear A-Levels.

This year we will be launching a whole range of products for Year 2, including: course companions, revision guides, topic worksheets, flashcards, YouTube Videos, etc. Details of these products will be included in our Daily Digest, so if you haven’t subscribed to our mailing list, click the link at the bottom of this page to keep up-to-date.

Also, teachers can start their term with some FREE CPD to keep on top of their game. These short, activity-intense webinars will provide you with active teaching and learning strategies to get motivated at the start of the year.

Daily Digest

To keep up-to-date with the tutor2u Psychology team, follow us on Twitter @tutor2uPsych, Facebook (AQA) / OCR or subscribe to the Psychology Daily Digest and get new content delivered to your inbox!

Joseph Sparks

Joseph is a Subject Advisor for Psychology at tutor2u. He is an experienced Psychology & Music Teacher, Writer, Examiner and Presenter. He is currently completing a Professional Doctorate in Education and is passionate about the impact of technology on teaching and learning.

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