A Levels/ Exam Advice


You’ve done the interview, you’ve got the offer, you’ve got through the hard bit – but the hard work isn’t over. Your offer is (most likely) dependent on your performance in your upcoming exams, and so you need to make sure you fulfil the potential you have, and smash them!

Whilst they are a little too far away to be thinking about long revision schedules, or how much you need to cram before the deadline day, there are lots of things you can be doing now, in the months leading up to them, that will improve your performance dramatically. I have experience of revising for both essay-based subjects and maths, and although the content may be very different, the methods of approaching revision are universal.

Right now, you can be reading over your notes as you make them – the teaching for your subjects will probably be nowhere near over, but taking half an hour (or even less!) at the end of each day to consolidate what you have done (or start going over previous work) really helps for when it comes to the final revision push! You don’t even have to make new notes; just re-reading the day’s work makes a significant difference.

If you find yourself with a spare afternoon, (or with nothing to do over your Easter break) making revision resources is always better to do sooner rather than later. If, like me, you like your notes and revision to look pretty, and that helps your work and confidence, then you have the time now to spend on this – it will just become a procrastination task as you get closer to May and June!

The most helpful thing I found when preparing for my A-Levels was to start small, and build it up as you get closer. Read over notes now. Read around your subject (which is helpful before you start Uni anyway!) Start making revision resources as you finish units, don’t let them all pile up. In the couple of months before the exams begin, identify where you are strongest and weakest, so you can spend less time on what you are confident on, and more on what you need to work on. This is the biggest piece of advice I can give – don’t fall into the (all too inviting) trap of going over what you already ace because it feels good. Identify where you struggle, and change that!

Looking forward to the weeks before the exam, past papers are key! I know your teachers will have told you this already, but practising the skill of recall in doing these is what is going to give you confidence. By that point, you know the information, you just need to be able to get it out of your brain. So practise, practise, practise! And this is not necessarily writing a three hour past paper every day, but involves at least planning an essay answer, and thinking about how you would approach it. Or, for maths and science subjects, taking the section of a paper you are least confident with, and giving yourself 20 minutes in exam conditions to work through it. For me, this was binomial expansion – I thought I would never be able to answer those questions, but after constant, short repetition of what I knew I struggled with, it ended up being the topic I was most confident with in the exam. Little and often is key!

As you look towards preparing for your exams, just remember that it’s all about building things up slowly. The more you begin to prepare now, the less stressed you will be later. It will also get you into the habit of working on a revision schedule, so you don’t have to start that process from scratch when exams do eventually come around. You are on track to get the grades, you have the ability, and now it’s just about putting the effort into this final stretch to prove yourself.

So here’s a (very early) good luck, and smash those exams!

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