AQA specification – too much?

I know many people feel the new AQA specification is overloaded – so I decided to conduct a rough comparison of the old and new specification by comparing the number of spreads in the old and new Complete Companion. Each spread roughly equals one essay topic. What I found is in the table below.

The option topics are indeed longer (more spreads) but it is important to remember that the content should be 33% less because students now need 16 marks worth and not 24 marks worth.

In the old exam students sat four exams each with 3 topics (research methods was examined twice, once in AS and once in A2).

In the new exam A level students sit three exams with 11 topics but research methods is a double topic. Therefore they still do 12 topics.

By my calculations students did about 114 topics in the old specification and now do between 121-129 (depending on the options chosen). However, because of the reduced marks for the A level topics I think the content of the two specifications is roughly similar.

AS/Year 1 compulsory topics

  • Social influence    old specification=8, new specification=9
  • Memory.    old=10, new=9
  • Attachment.   old=12, new=10
  • Psychopathology.    old=11, new=8
  • Y1 research methods.   old=10, new=12
  • Stress.   old=9

Year 2 options

  • Y2 research methods.   old=10, new=12
  • Relationships.   old=7, new=10
  • Eating.   old=8, new=10
  • Aggression.   old=7, new=10
  • Gender.   old=8, new=8
  • Cognition.   old=7, new=7
  • Schizophrenia.   old=5, new=9
  • Addiction.   old=7, new=12
  • Forensic.   new=13
  • Stress. new=13


  • Issues and debates.   new=7
  • Approaches.   new=8
  • Biopsychology.  new=11
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