For years, A Level has maintained its reputation as the gold standard of pre-university courses, not just in the UK but globally too. This makes A Level exam preparation critical for any student hoping to secure a placement in some of the world’s top universities.
The weeks leading up to the exam are crucial for any student. Your A Level exam preparation techniques could make the difference between an A* and A grade, but it is also important to not exert too much pressure on yourself.
Many students develop the habit of “panic cramming” in the week (or even the 24 hours) leading up to exam day. However, this can be counterproductive and detrimental to students as they may unnecessarily put undue pressure on themselves.
If you’re taking your A Level exam soon — perhaps the most important piece of advice we can give you is to not panic. Instead, try and follow these seven last-minute revision tips:
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7 best last-minute A Level exam preparation techniques
Do past year papers and participate in mock exams
Perhaps one of the best ways to do a last-minute revision is to experience a situation similar to the actual exam day. This can be achieved by doing past year exam questions. There are many benefits to this, which includes:
- Getting used to the structure of the paper
- Timing yourself to finish the paper within the allocated time
- Understand the allocation of marks and marking scheme
- A great practice for writing
- Analyse strong and weak points and work on them accordingly
Alternatively, students may reap similar benefits when doing a mock exam. Feedback received from the examiner is equally as important, which brings us to our next tip:
Read the examiners’ report
In an article published by The Uni Guide, a student who obtained A* grade in one of their subjects suggested that students read the examiner’s report and analyse it thoroughly.
“Every year, the exam boards make public a document written by people who are going to mark your papers. And in it, they tell you what they like to read. They also give you examples of what not to do. Exam technique wise, this is the most useful and important resource you have,” said the student.
Examiners go through each exam question in minute detail, highlighting what candidates have done well and what they should improve upon. The report also includes useful tips about what candidates can anticipate regarding trends and patterns based on past year’s papers.
Review summaries, not full notes
Writing notes in full can be laborious, and at times, a waste of time. Points can be summarised more concisely, with the important details maintained within short descriptions.
Mind maps, spider diagrams and a one-page bullet point can be a great way to review a topic and to check that you have understood your revision materials.
Writing essay plans for past exam questions can also reassure you that you can answer questions in previous year’s papers.
Some students are obsessed with writing notes. So, let’s make them as worthwhile as possible. The Cornell note-taking method is one way of making them more beneficial. The attached explain how they work and includes A level Chemistry and History examples. pic.twitter.com/SOJMcpbMy2
— Simon Flynn (@flynn_simon) December 29, 2020
Self-testing using flashcards can be a great last-minute technique to gauge your knowledge of a certain topic.
When answering a question on a flashcard, you can either write down the answer to the question or say them out loud before checking to see if you have obtained the right answer.
Another A Level exam preparation technique is using mnemonics, or using song and rhyme to acronyms to remember information.
When your brain can associate a piece of information with something familiar, it makes it extremely easy to keep it etched in your mind.
The Feynman technique is also useful. It entails choosing a concept you want to learn about; explaining it to a child; reflect, refining and simplifying your explanation before finally organising and reviewing your ability to explain the concept.
These are quick and easy methods you can master in just a day or two before your A Level exams to help you jog your memory.
Take breaks when studying
Did you know that science suggests taking breaks when studying can be useful?
For instance, consider taking a 10 to 20-minute break when studying for 30 minutes to an hour.
You can do some stretching exercises, drink a glass of water or simply close your eyes and rest.
Condense your notes
As mentioned previously, making full notes or paragraphs may not always be a wise use of your time.
The ability to break down concepts into shorter notes may be challenging, but it keeps your notes organised and shows you how well you have understood your subject. Streamline your notes from lecture slides, previous notes and textbooks.
Reading these short notes will help you jog your memory before test day.
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