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A-Level Preparation

By Scarlett Maria


I was overjoyed when I received my conditional offer from Oxford, though said excitement was increasingly tempered by approaching A-Level exams. I understand that many others may be feeling the same way, and so decided to write some tips that helped me.


Revise early, little, and often


Although some of us wish we were revision robots, able to revise for hours every day, months before exams and take everything in, unfortunately we are human – and that is OK. It can be easy to either overwhelm ourselves with work, doing too much at an early stage and leaving us burnt out by the exams, or starting late and cramming. Starting early and breaking down revision into small manageable chunks is your best bet, making sure you identify any weak points to refine with repetition.


Practice papers


I am aware that nearly everyone reading has heard this tip from teachers hundreds of times before, but seriously, past papers help, especially if you do them under exam conditions. Whilst they cannot be used to ‘predict’ the questions you will be asked (this method has been tried and tested, and whilst fun to speculate, is not reliable), they act to familiarise you with the type and style of questions you will be asked and will make you feel more comfortable within an exam setting - as comfortable as you can be at least.


Self-care


Self-care can be difficult to maintain and balance with work in the lead-up to exams: sleepless nights and skipped meals, or on the other end of the spectrum, convincing ourselves that an activity is self-care, when in fact it can be a form of procrastination.  I would advise making a study timetable, scheduling in frequent, short breaks, and giving yourself time in the evenings to rest. Coupled with this, perhaps ask a parent, sibling, or friend to make sure you’re taking regular breaks – when we forget to take care of ourselves, other people can help to remind us. Even if you do not think a revision session has been productive, trying to push yourself through it without taking a break is often unhelpful, and will perpetuate the ‘study-block’. You can push yourselves, but also be kind and respect your body and mind.


Incentives


After studying for weeks, for hours at a time, a lack of motivation can seep into our lives like water can into socks – both of which are equally as frustrating. One thing that aided me is creating positive incentives to encourage you to complete tasks. This can be as simple as treating yourself to something sweet after revising for a certain amount of time, or as a friend of mine did, giving herself a sticker. It may sound silly, but small rewards to celebrate the small revision wins are good motivators and remind you of your achievements.



Ultimately: Work hard, rest well. I wish you all the best of luck!


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