With results day over and done with, I thought this would be a good idea to kick off my A Level/University series. Whether you’re heading towards taking your GCSE, AS, A Levels or even a degree, I hope that this post is useful!
First, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about me + my results. I took my A Levels back in 2016, and my subjects were Biology, Chemistry and Maths (not everyone’s cup of tea, I know!). On results day I was over the moon to open the envelope to 3A*s! I’m going to share my revision technique with you so that hopefully you guys can get the grades that you want:
1 – Type up your notes.
During Year 13, I tried to type up all of the notes I’d made in lessons every day when I got home (or during my frees). Doing this is a really good way of making sure that you understand everything you’ve learnt at school, rather than just forgetting about it as soon as you walk out of the class!
2 – Use your textbooks/revision guides.
Once I’d finished typing up a particular topic’s class notes, I would add to them using the corresponding sections in the relevant books. This is such a useful step because it helps you to fill in any gaps that you may have missed when taking notes in lessons. It’s also particularly useful for topics that you don’t understand – each book will offer a slightly different way of explaining something, and you might understand one way much more than any others.
3 – Make revision cards.
Obviously everyone learns differently, so it’s important to find what type of learning works best for you. For me, this is definitely using revision cards. I will make a much more detailed post on this soon, but in short, I basically rewrite all of my completed notes in revision card form, with questions on the front and answers on the back.
4 – Test yourself – or get someone to test you.
Using the revision cards I’d made, I would then get my friends and/or parents to ask me the questions and make me answer them. I would make note of the cards/topics that I had real trouble with, so that I could spend extra time working on learning them.
5 – Do past papers.
This is probably the most crucial step if you want to achieve the really high grades. You often find that they repeat questions from year to year, so doing the past papers can ensure that you’ll know the answers to at least one question in your actual exams! It also allows you to practise your exam technique, get to know the mark schemes and spot which topics you’re getting right every time and which ones you need more work on.
6 – Do past papers effectively.
I’ve given this a point of its own because there is a difference between just doing a past paper and doing them effectively. If you just complete the paper and then forget about it, you haven’t really learnt anything. I made sure that after I had marked the paper (using the mark schemes) I circled every question that I lost marks on and went over it. If, after this, I knew why I lost the marks and was sure that I could answer similar questions in the future, I would leave it. If I wasn’t sure how I would answer a question on the same topic, I would take it into school to ask my teacher to explain it to me until I understood. This way, I was improving my knowledge every time I did a paper.
7 – Use the specifications.
Every exam board has a specification for each subject. Something that I didn’t realise until my last year of school was that the exam boards aren’t allowed to ask you anything that isn’t on their specification. What this means is that if you know and understand everything on the spec, you should (in theory) be able to answer every single question in the exam. I would print off a copy of each spec and colour code. Red meant that I had no clue what this topic was, orange meant that I would probably be ok with a topic if I went over it a few times, and green meant that I completely understood it. I then spent time on all of the red/amber topics until they were green.
8 – Don’t be scared to ask for help.
Sometimes there are things that I just could not teach myself – as many times as I went over certain topics, I just couldn’t get my head around them. If I’d have left them, I would never have understood them and if a question on one of these topics had come up, I couldn’t have answered it. I made sure that I asked either my friends who study the subject or my teachers to explain anything that I couldn’t understand.
This post has been an absolute essay but I hope that you’ve found something in here of use! This is basically everything I did during Year 13 to get the grades that I wanted. I’m posting this now because the earlier you get organised with your revision, the easier and less stressful it is in the long run (I promise!).
Question: What are your academic goals for this year?