Sunday, 26 June 2016

Tips for studying A-levels

You may know that I've just finished studying my A-levels at college (it's so nice to have so much free time!) But as well as all this free time, I also have lots of tips if you are starting, or in the middle of your A-levels - namely how to get through them.

These can also be taken as general study tips, as they're not to specific to the subjects I studied at A-level (English Literature, History and Film Studies) or to specific to A-levels themselves.

But I have just finished my A-levels, so I thought it would be best to share all the knowledge I've accumulated over the past two years at college. I hope they help!

Ask for help when you need it. There will be times when you struggle with a topic or theory or concept, so please don't leave it and hope that you won't have to face it again. The sooner that you understand it, the better off you are (both for the exam or in general). Teachers are there to teach you, after all, and are generally very lovely - so make sure that you contact them if you are ever stuck on anything. You don't even have to put your hand up in class if you don't want to - most schools have an email system, so you could email them - or see them after class. Just make sure that you understand every part of the course before you start revising.

Get organised - This is the best thing you can do when studying, especially when things start to get confusing, and you gets lots of homework, or you start to feel a bit tired. If you buy a planner, or start a bullet journal, and record all your homework and everything you need to do, as well as deadlines - so you have it all in front of you and recorded, everything will start to become easier and more manageable. Another thing that I found helpful is to have a set studying time (for example, I made sure to study and revise from either 2 - 4, 4 - 6, or 6 - 9, every night, depending on my timetable and other commitments). Once you have this routine, it'll be easier to get yourself into study mode generally, and you'll get work done quicker and easier.

Don't procrastinate. Honestly, I know it's really difficult not to - but the best thing you can ever do is to procrastinate as little as possible, because there is a quite a big workload with A-levels. But how do you stop procrastinating? Things that really helped me were to use extensions and programmes that would block social media on my laptop for periods of time, like cold turkey, turning off my phone, and using the pomodoro technique, which made me much more productive.   But that being said, also be sure to take breaks. I would often be working on college work constantly, for hours, without any type of break - which isn't good. While you shouldn't procrastinate, be sure to take regular breaks of about 15 minutes in between every half hour of work or so, so you don't burn yourself out and can concentrate better.

Learn how you study and work in that way - Are you an audio, visual or kinesthetic learner? (Do you have no idea what I'm on about? Then take the test to see what type of learner you are here). The sooner you know what type of learner you are, the sooner you can mould your studying and revision to this (so making audio notes if you're an audio learner, typed up or hand-written notes if you're a visual learner, for example) and you'll start to find revision and things become a whole lot easier, trust me.

Past papers and questions are your best friends. Honestly, they really are. Not only do they get you to understand what the examiners are looking for and what you should try and do in the exam (particularly in the case of the essay-based subjects that I did at college). But they also help you with timings for the exams, and they're a great way to see what you know when revising - but they're also a great way to revise without you even knowing it, because you have to use all the information when you complete one. Past papers and past questions are honestly such an underrated study aid - but I love them, and would 100% using them regularly, particularly when revising - even if you just plan a question of do half a paper, you're revising and preparing for the exam at the same time. What more could you want?

Specifications are also your best friends - Another underrated study aid when A-levels are concerned is definitely the subject specification. This is more of an A-level specific tip than just a general study tip - but exam boards should have specifications for each subject you study (you should find them on the exam board website for the subject you're studying, but if you're lost just ask your teacher or google History Unit 3J AQA specification, for example, and you should find it). But honestly they're great to have, especially to help you while you're being taught and during revision - they basically tell you what your teachers should be teaching you, and what you should be revising - because they state all the topics that you could be tested on in the exam. My advice would be to find your specification for all your subjects as soon as you can - and then highlight both that you've covered them in class, and during revision.

Make revision materials as you go. The one thing I struggled with from the jump from GCSE to A-level was the lack of readily available revision materials. By that, I mean that there were no longer any revision guides that I could use (at least for the subjects that I studied) which meant that I had to make my own. If you take half an hour, or an hour after your school day - or even after your lesson, if you have free time - to write up or create notes on what you covered in the lesson(s) you've just had, not only will revision be easier when the time comes, but you're more likely to have a better knowledge of what you covered, because you reviewed it when you made the notes.

Remember that you will get through it - I'm not going to lie, A-levels, like all academic qualifications, are tough. They're meant to test and challenge you. But sometimes you might feel like dropping out altogether, that you won't or can't succeed - but I promise that you can. If you ever feel like this, just take the night off, and start afresh tomorrow. You wouldn't be on the course in the first place if you weren't capable - just keep working hard, and you'll reap the rewards through your grades. Promise.
    There you go - I hope you found that helpful! And if you are studying for A-levels, or just starting them - good luck! You'll do fantastically, I'm sure. 

    Do you have any questions? Feel free to ask them in the comments! Also, do you have any studying tips (for A-levels or just generally) I'd love to hear from you!

    1 comment:

    1. Some great tips. My daughter will be starting her A Levels in september and know it will be hard work