HE Exams Wiki

GCSE Psychology doesn't have coursework, so external candidates can sit the regular GCSE.

When you wish to take the exam, and what exam boards your exam centre is registered with, determines which Psychology GCSEs you can sit.

New GCSEs (9-1) are now being introduced for GCSE Psychology

  • Summer 2019 - first exams for the new GCSEs (9-1)

The specifications for old GCSE Psychology (A-G) cover different topics, so what you study will depend on which exam board you choose.  There is not necessarily much overlap between the specifications, e.g. AQA and Edexcel share only about a quarter of their topics.  This means that there is no such thing as a general psychology GCSE revision or textbook - your materials have to be specific to the topic or syllabus. However, there are good textbooks available which cover each syllabus.

The new Psychology (9-1) has more subject content determined by the Government so specifications have more overlap. However some of the topics are optional and exam boards have taken a different approach to these. There are also different studies chosen between exam boards (though some overlap). So you still need to be looking for textbooks and resources geared to the specification you are using.

There is a detailed breakdown of what is in each specification here. (External link)

Edexcel GCSE Psychology - 1PS0 (2019 first examination)

Edexcel GCSE Psychology has no coursework or controlled assessment, so can be taken by home-ed students without any special arrangements.

The Pearson Edexcel GCSE (9–1) in Psychology consists of two externally-examined papers. Students must complete all assessment in May/June in any single year.  

Paper 1 (*Paper code: 1PS0/01) - 1 hour and 45 minutes

  • Topic 1: Development – How did you develop?
  • Topic 2: Memory – How does your memory work?
  • Topic 3: Psychological problems – How would psychological problems affect you?
  • Topic 4: The brain and neuropsychology – How does your brain affect you?
  • Topic 5: Social influence – How do others affect you?

Paper 2 (Paper code: 1PS0/02) - 1 hour and 20 minutes (Topics 6 to 10 are optional; students must study two of them. Topic 11 is compulsory.)

  • Topic 6: Criminal psychology – Why do people become criminals?
  • Topic 7: The self – What makes you who you are?
  • Topic 8: Perception – How do you interpret the world around you?
  • Topic 9: Sleep and dreaming – Why do you need to sleep and dream?
  • Topic 10: Language, thought and communication – How do you communicate with others?
  • Topic 11: Research methods – How do you carry out psychological research?

AQA GCSE Psychology - 8182

AQA GCSE Psychology Course code 8182

This qualification is linear. Linear means that students will sit all their exams at the end of the course.

Paper 1: Cognition and behaviour (1 hr, 45 mins)

  • Memory
  • Perception
  • Development
  • Research methods

Paper 2: Social context and behaviour (1 hr, 45 mins)

  • Social influence
  • Language, thought and communication
  • Brain and neuropsychology
  • Psychological problems

OCR GCSE Psychology - J203

OCR GCSE Psychology - course code J203

Paper 1: Studies and applications in Psychology 1 (01) - 1 hr 30 mins

Paper 2: Studies and applications in Psychology 2 (02) - 1 hr 30 mins

Component 01: Studies and applications in Psychology 1

  • Criminal psychology
  • Development
  • Psychological problems.
  • The research methods focus on designing an investigation.

Component 02: Studies and applications in Psychology 2

  • Social influence
  • Memory
  • Sleep and dreaming.
  • The research methods relate to a novel source.

EDUQAS GCSE Psychology

[GCSE Psychology]

(DIY Approach, Courses and Online Providers):

DIY Approach

My son is working through the textbook and is finding it interesting, with plenty of practice questions.  We are supplementing the textbook with other relevant material, eg Oliver Sacks books like "The man who mistook his wife for a hat" and interesting TV programmes such as BBC 4's "The Brain: A Secret History". We also listen to Radio 4 'All In The Mind' podcasts.  Nearer to the exam, he will work through all the available past papers and we may contact an online tutor to have some of his work marked and to get some further tips.

My son worked through the Pearson Edexcel text book himself, he found the topics interesting. We also used the Sparks Psych site. We finished the specification 2 months before the exam and then did every past paper available, when we started revision past papers were grading a D knowing how the examiners wanted the questions answered was key to his B grade, which is what we predicted.


There are some facebook groups you can join for ideas, resources and support: "GCSE Psychology Home Education Self Study", FB group link and Link

Whittington Green School revision resources

Memrise revision tools

BBC Bitesize revision

Edgbarrow school revision guide

Crash Course Psychology - YouTube videos covering a variety of topics

Introduction to Psychology from Coursera - free online course with assignments and discussions.

In Search of Ourselves: A History of Psychology and the Mind - BBC Radio 4

Mind Changers BBC Radio 4 series on classic psychology experiments, including some which are on the GCSE and A-level syllabuses.

"In the Psychiatrist's Chair" with Anthony Clare BBC Radio 4 classic - selected episodes are being repeated on R4 extra in April 2014.

"The Brain: A Secret History" from BBC. Although it's not on iPlayer you can probably get it on YouTube with some creative searching.

Brain Story - BBC six-part series. The link currently offers the series as a YouTube playlist. See also the Brain Story wiki .

All In The Mind - BBC Radio 4 series, available as podcasts; interesting general knowledge and background psychology.

Psychology of the Mind BBC Radio 4 collection of programmes and clips

CosmoLearning Psychology - list of documentaries and free online courses in psychology, sorted by area.  Some of the links are broken but you can generally find the content on YouTube.

Psychology documentaries from TopDocumentaryFilms.  Generally has a summary and direct link to view online.

The Secret Life of the Brain - PBS documentary series, 5 episodes.

Uniview GCSE Psychology Resource Catalogue - sells DVDs of documentaries relevant to the topic to teachers.  Prices probably more than you'd pay for home-ed use but may provide inspiration for resources which you can find elsewhere.

TES forum for GCSE Psychology

Virtual Psychology GCSE Powerpoint presentations on core topics.

Distance Learning

The majority of home-educators who study Psychology GCSE get along well using just the textbook and free online resources listed here, but some find a distance learning course suits their family better. The big national distance learning companies offer psychology GCSE courses, but there are also some niche providers who specialise in home education. People generally report that the tutor support is what makes or breaks and online course; this means it's difficult to generalise about whether a particular large distance learning company is good overall, as it may have a brilliant tutor for one subject and a lacklustre one for another.

HomeMadeEducationis run by a home educator and offers on-line GCSE Psychology (Edexcel) and GCSE Sociology (AQA) courses. Courses are available in a variety of formats: live, interactive online courses, pre-recorded courses, and printed and posted courses.

Edited to add: 'I've loved doing psychology, I find it immensely interesting. It's now one of my favourite subjects, I find it intriguing and exciting. I think you are a great teacher, thanks for all the amazing classes, I feel confident and excited to do the exam. Thank you so much for being my teacher."

Vicki-Marie Piper Venn offers online tuition in psychology and sociology. We have not had any feedback from members of the HE Exams groups, but her site says: "I specialise in tutoring home educated students, who currently constitute around 45% of all my students. For home educated students looking to apply to university I am able to be your Academic Referee and supply a reference to UCAS at no extra cost, provided that you are having weekly lessons with me."

Edited to add: "I am a member of the HE Exams group and my son had lessons with Vicki before his GCSE Psychology exam. We found her extremely patient and fantastic at explaining topics as well as giving great advice on exam technique. We can highly recommend her!"

Oxford Home Schooling offers a course for AQA GCSE Psychology. £350 for the course for one GCSE.

HJEducation - Hazel Johnson is a GCSE and AS & A Level Psychology tutor - she is a qualified teacher and has home educated her son

Comments from parents

AQA Psychology with Oxford Open Learning

We have the AQA textbook for Psychology

and DD will be doing Psychology with Oxford Open Learning once she has finished Religious Studies B with them (May 2014).  We are doing eight subjects at present, so the Psychology has to wait.

We are going to do the OOL course for Psychology because DD is very happy with their Religion course (they are all the same format). The course is very well laid out, has exercises (with model answers) and ten assignments throughout the course which are marked and feedback given.  The assignments (for Religion at least) have questions taken from past papers.     The course requires no input from me - it is all there set out for her.

The AQA textbooks in this series are remarkably thin (under 200 pages) but very concisely written.  The Religion book of the same series is the recommended text for the OOL course and we have found all of the information required for the syllabus is in this very slim book.

ICS Learn GCSE Psychology course is the AQA syllabus, £285.

NEC GCSE Psychology - AQA syllabus, £425