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Q&A from AQA: Biopsychology - Jet Lag & Shift Work

Below you will find a question and response from AQA in relation to: Jet Lag & Shift Work


I would like some clarification on what is meant by: The effect of endogenous pacemakers and exogenous zeitgebers on the sleep/wake cycle.

  1. Does this area of the specification include disruption of biological rhythms?
  2. Could students potentially be asked for say the effects of jet lag or shift work?


The sleep content on the new Specification is much reduced compared to the previous Specification A, reflecting the fact that students are not expected to cover sleep in as much depth as they would have done previously. Wording of questions is restricted to the terms used on the Specification, so the ‘disruption of biological rhythms’, jet lag’ and ‘shift work’ could not be addressed directly in a question. However, in learning about endogenous pacemakers and exogenous zeitgebers students would inevitably study how internal biological rhythms and external factors (e.g. travel across time zones, changing daylight hours, shift working) affect the sleep-wake cycle. Please note that, in the first set of Specimen Assessment Materials A Level Paper 2, Q07 assesses understanding of endogenous pacemakers and exogenous zeitgebers in an applied question where students have to recognise shift work as a possible exogenous factor.


The coverage in the new textbooks reflects the specification and therefore I highly recommend using old textbooks that provide a variety of points on sleep, in particular the idea of jet leg and/or shift work.

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