No A-Level student needs anybody at all to tell them that A-Levels are freaking hard. During the inevitable times of stress and pressure faced by students, it can be difficult to know where on earth to start when it comes to learning and revising the key information that is needed to achieve the best possible results.
Whether you already have neat and organised folders from your lessons, or loose bits of paper are scattered across your bedroom floor – I hope the advice I have from my own personal experience can help any struggling students. My final result in English Literature was an A, and I honestly could not be happier with the result.
Okay, it is no state secret that in order to achieve good grades, you really need to work hard for it. There is no chance that taking half-hearted notes and not paying enough attention through the course will be enough to get the grades you desire. You can’t only put the effort in during the final months – it needs to be constant. (Not only is this the most beneficial way to learn, but it is also far less stressful.)
First of all, in every single lesson you need to be making detailed notes. Take out a spare piece of paper and jot down any good analytical points from your teacher, all of your own your own ideas, key quotations and any other useful notes that come into your head. ‘I don’t need to write it down, I’ll remember it’ is a fatal concept among students. The honest truth is no, you will not remember it, and that A* level point you thought up in class is now just wasted time.
Secondly, after class you really should be looking over these notes and re-writing them up neat in a separate notebook. Take all the best notes from your scruffy paper and keep them safe in their own orderly and easy to read space. Writing out your own notes should not be revision, it should be done through the year to organise your folder and make your information easily accessible later.
Finally, make flashcards and mind maps as you go through the year. This will make revision a lot easier further along in the course as all your revision materials are sat waiting for you. Flashcards were a Godsend for me, I know I couldn’t have got my grades without them.
Revision for your summer exams should ideally start around the Christmas holidays, it gives you plenty of time to identify your weaknesses and improve your essay writing skills.
All those notes and flashcards you made through the year will now come in handy! Firstly, read over them to remind yourself of all the information you have been learning and then test yourself, and get other people to test you to make sure you memorise all the key points in your notes.
Make essay plans. One thing I would always do was hop on skype with my friend who also did English, and create essay plans together on Google docs. We would discuss the theme together, and put all our ideas into the document which we would then save to revise from later. These sessions were beneficial and immensely helped my revision.
Go to revision classes to refresh your memory and discuss your ideas with other students. It is incredible how much these classes can help!
Make sure you know your assessment objectives, and revise for them all! If you need to include analysis, context and critical interpretations for your exam there is no point just revising the quotations and the context!!! As long as you know what you will be assessed on, your exam preparation is a piece of cake!
Wishing all you readers good luck with your course, and I hope my advice was at least slightly helpful!!!