At the end of the day, the ultimate aim of your study of A-Level Psychology is to make sure you get the best grade you can! You all have your own goals and you probably know what you need to get to make your future plans possible!

Imagine then, how easy it would be to get the best grade possible if you knew how to write a 16 mark question and get the full 16 marks?! The essay questions hold so much weight in your final exams, so read on and I’m going to show you exactly how to get the full marks that can so easily make or break your exam result!

As a teacher, I often get asked “is it even possible to get 16 marks…” and the truth is, it’s difficult if you don’t know how, if you haven’t been shown, but yes, it absolutely is possible, and actually it is much easier than you might think once you see the success criteria in action!

So here it is… an example of an answer which would achieve the full 16 marks in the A-level exam! I know it would, because I saw it, this answer received 16 out of 16 marks!

Read through it, identify patterns, key aspects of the answer and see where you could even begin to improve it! After all, it is not perfect, yet it is more than enough to receive 16 marks for this question.

“Question: Outline and evaluate the humanistic approach. Refer to Tatiana’s behaviour in your answer (16 marks)”

[This question had a stem, which referred to Tatiana and her behaviour, in which the candidate had to link her behaviour to aspects of the humanistic approach to apply knowledge for Ao2 marks. We will look at this in more detail after the answer in a future post]

In the next post, we will review the answer relation to the mark scheme and assessment objectives / criteria. But for now, read on and uncover the mystery that is the elusive full mark answer! You never know, you might learn something!

Beginning of Answer

One of the most important aspects of the humanistic approach is free will. This is the idea that everyone has the power to make their own decisions and be fully autonomous in their actions, this is clear for Tatiana in that she has made the decision to use her phone as much as she does. It also considers the concept of self-actualisation, where a person has fulfilled their true potential, and to achieve self-actualisation you must achieve all levels of the hierarchy of needs, such as self-esteem, something that Tatiana clearly does not have, it is said that ‘she has low self-esteem’; To reach self-actualisation, you must be focused, or in a state of ‘flow’, which again, Tatiana is not as she is constantly distracted by her phone. Something that can help an individual reach self-actualisation is if they are given unconditional positive regard, that is people will love them regardless of their actions or mood. Tatiana however does not have this, or there are conditions of worth she must meet to feel loved, such as receiving positive comments; she therefore is not in a state of congruence, which is something else necessary to reach self-actualisation. This is because her ‘ideal self’ and ‘self-perception’ are not the same possibly due to her placing too much stress on receiving positivity from her phone.

One strength of this explanation for Tatiana’s behaviour is that it has a lot of potential for treatments for example, she could use Roger’s client centred therapy, where an emphasis on an unconditional positive regard for her could reduce her dependence on her mobile phone for positive comments. This is important because it gives the explanation real life application that have become useful in helping to treat clients.

However, a disadvantage of this explanation for Tatiana’s behaviour is that there could be other explanations, for example, the behaviourist approach may suggest that this issue formed through an association between the good feelings she receives from reading positive comments and her mobile phone. This would suggest that she feels ‘dependence on her phone’ not because of her lack of unconditional self-regard, but rather through conditioning. This has an impact because it suggests that the humanistic approach does not have full explanatory power, reducing the validity of the approach as a whole.

Another issue is that the humanistic explanation is quite unrealistic. For example, for someone to actually achieve all the stages of the hierarchy is almost impossible, meaning it suggests most people cannot reach true happiness which therefore mean it may suffer from some ethical issues; limiting the potential of people, this would therefore make it difficult for Tatiana to get help.

A final strength of this approach in helping Tatiana is that it is an ideographic approach. Many other approaches such as the biological approach are nomothetic, meaning that they generalise findings to a large group of people. This approach however would look at Tatiana from a more subjective point of view. This would mean that Tatiana could plan a treatment which would be more tailored to her. For example, if would not be appropriate to focus on her physiological needs but rather for Tatiana her unconditional positive regard. This is important because it means that approach is more subjective and therefore more likely to explain and help Tatiana with her problems, and beyond this help individuals more so than a more generic approach might be able to.

End of Answer.

 That’s it! Right there, 16 marks worth of content. In 551 words!

Now I hope that makes you see that it isn’t impossible! The answer is great, yes, I acknowledge that, but it’s not incredibly detailed, it doesn’t have every single piece of content in all the textbooks and journal in the land, it lacks research, and it is definitely not written with a style academic enough for a doctor of Psychology to pass as their own!

It is an answer that make 16 marks seem possible. And now if you continue reading the next post, we will break it down! Step by Step, so that you can take the tools from this and develop your own techniques to get 16 marks in your next essay! Let’s build some more confidence!

Thank you for taking the time to read this, I hope that it helps you! I really hope that you take something of worth from this answer, be that structure or techniques to introduce key ideas. As I have said, a future post will look to break this answer down and provide an in depth review of the techniques used and how/why it achieves full marks.

If you have enjoyed this please consider supporting MyRevology through one of the following methods:

  • Purchase one of our many revision packs that will help you achieve your dream results and structure your revision 

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  • Share this content with your friends and family! Let’s make sure everyone succeeds! 

See you next time, 

The MyRevology Team

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