Preparing for A-level exams doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s so easy to feel bewildered by the tonnes of different techniques and strategies floating around. But here’s a simplified three-step method which will ensure you’re adequately prepared for those exams…
Step 1: Condense the content
Whatever your subject, the volume of A-Level content is vast. There’s a lot you need to know which can often leave students feeling overwhelmed and unsure where to start.
My advice is to work through the specification systematically, summarising all the key learning points. You want to end up with a nice succinct set of notes at the end of it. If you’re struggling with this, do check out my A-level Biology and Chemistry summaries.
While you’re doing this, you want to be actively identifying and addressing any knowledge gaps you might notice. There may be certain topics you’re not too clear on, or calculations that are a little hazy – don’t leave it all to pile up, but instead fix these glitches as you go along.
Step 2: Methodical memorisation
As much as application and understanding are important, there’s no getting away from the fact that some straightforward memorisation is needed too.
For Chemistry this would be a lot of the mechanisms and equations and for Biology it’ll be the step-by-step nature of biological processes. If you’ve summarised the content well, this will be easy.
I use the word “methodical” because you need to make sure you’re doing this in an organised way, reviewing regularly to help you to retain all the information right up until exam day. It’s about being strategic and not memorising everything, just key points.
Step 3: Fine-tuning your knowledge
By memorising you would have laid down the foundations, but as we all know the exams are far more than just simple recall.
In order to master the applied nature of the exams you have to just do a lot of practise. Before your exams you should have definitely done every past exam paper you can get hold of, and perhaps even re-attempted those that you scored below your target grade on.
The important thing when it comes to past papers is making sure you’re learning from each paper you do. Go through the mark schemes carefully, and keep a list of every point you got wrong and additional points you could have written.
Keep adding to this list and review it before you sit a new past paper. Exam questions ultimately repeated content so learning the exact points the examiners are after is the best thing you can do.
Another little trick is to read the examiners’ reports. They let you know what students commonly get wrong and leave little hints on answering questions for those of you that are aiming for the top marks.
Best of luck to you all! Remember, it’s not too late and by doing the right things now you can still secure those grades.