As an A-Level Pre-Med student, I remember the all-nighters that I pulled to make sure I was at the top of my game. I gave my AS exams in the Oct-Nov session of 2020, and got 3 A’s in my exams, and got predicted grades for my 2021 May-June session for A2, in which I received 3 A*s. I know what it’s like giving pre-mocks, then mocks and then the actual exam itself and how tedious and stressful it can be.

A-Levels for me were a time where I truly enjoyed myself. It sounds unbelievable, but it’s the honest truth! The time I’ve spent in my A-Levels and the memories I’ve made are unforgettable, and the hard-work I put in is irreplicable but something I’m very proud of myself for. Thus, today I’ve decided to help you out too! I know Mocks are coming up soon and everything seems so jam-packed and stressful, but I’m here to give you the honest breakdown of what I did, and what you could do, to get the grades you deserve. Here’s a mini-list of everything you could do to get A*s in your A-Levels!

Time Management! How are you spending those seconds!

The absolute first thing that I did and what YOU should be doing is figuring out how you will be spending your time going into your study sessions, weeks before you go for your exam. I would print out calendars for 2 months before the exam and start planning out what I would be doing daily about 4-6 weeks before the exams start. I would plan out about 3-5 days revising each subject, depending on the curriculum and what the level of difficulty is. For example, physics is not my favorite subject and it takes me longer to comprehend its topics. I would set out about 5 days where I revise all the chapters and solve topical past papers for the chapters, I’m weakest in. So, my schedule would look something like:

  • Sunday: Chapters 1-3
  • Monday: Chapters 4-6
  • Tuesday: Chapters 7-9
  • Wednesday: Chapters 10-12

I would group the chapters together, so for Sunday I’d study all of general physics and related topics, on Monday I’ll do all chapters under Waves, on Tuesday I’ll do all chapters under Electricity, etc. etc.

Then I would spend the next few days doing the same for my other subjects. Once I’ve revised everything, I’ll set out days to practice past papers on. I would cover about 3 years’ worth of past papers for one subject a day and then do another subject the next day, and another subject the day after that. This would make sure I’m doing all of my subjects and not falling behind in any of them.

Time management is very important when studying for your exams. You could invest in a planner to keep you on track, or any other such organizational method. To get yourself in the habit of studying, you could start using a work/reward system, such as the Pomodoro system, where you study for 25-30 minutes and then take a break for 5, and then over time your work sessions can increase to 40-60 minutes.

To manage your time efficiently, you could go through your harder subjects and the harder topics first, and leave the easier topics to revise for later. Thus, spending more time on the things you actually need to tackle, and less on the things you already know.

How to Study

The first and foremost thing you need to do, is go through the syllabus outline. The syllabus outline covers extensively, everything that you need to know for your exams. Understand what is required of you and what concepts you should know going into your exam.

Then, you sit down to study. In my time in A-Levels, I used to make rough lecture notes during my classes, and then when I was studying on my own, I’d open my coursebook and other related coursebooks and make my own notes based on all the content I could find. This helped me retain a lot of information, get a better handle on the syllabus content and revise everything I learned in class. These notes would contain every information that was out there and were very thorough and thus I didn’t have to study from anything else but my own notes.\

When it came to revision, I would go through my notes first. Once I did that, if there were any topic I didn’t understand, I’d look up lectures related to those topics online. Once I got a grip on the concepts, I’d sit down to make revision notes. These revision notes could be flashcards or notes on a loose-leaf, and these contained all the little details I would need while attempting past papers. So, for physics, my revision notes consisted of all the formulas, definitions, laws, phenomena, processes and graphs that I needed to remember.

Then once I’m done with this, I’d sit down to go through past papers. I don’t think students know how important past papers truly are. They’re vital in your revision because you get to get a hang of the sort of questions that could come (and most of the questions are often re-worded), it helps you go through different concepts very quickly, you understand how to develop answers, and you’re actively recalling all the information you revised. Thus, past papers were a must in my revision. I probably solved past-papers from 2006 onwards for my exams. I went through all the variants, all the years, all the questions, and this really prepared me for all sorts of questions that might be asked. I used to have the past papers open on my laptop, while I wrote down my answers on a piece of paper, or in a notebook or on a whiteboard. Then I’d check all of my answers using the mark scheme. Where the mark scheme doesn’t make sense, I’d refer to the examiner reports. The examiner reports are clear statements from the examiners themselves on what to do and what not to do, and going through those, you’ll understand better what an examiner wants in your answers.

You need to understand what your method of studying is. For me, it was by visual learning and writing down everything. Once you understand what way you can learn better, try to develop a study routine by integrating methods that suit you best. E.g.; if you’re an auditory learner, you can watch lectures or videos of solving past papers to revise.

During my mocks, me and my friends used to group call and everyone would mute ourselves but we had our cameras open. Seeing others study, often motivates you to study as well, and so we made sure we were all working hard and no one was slacking off. I also used to put on calm music while I studied; this provided background music and let me concentrate better and made me actually enjoy studying. While I did past-papers, I’d put on more groovy songs that make you want to get up and dance, and this would help me remain active and alert while I solved questions.

Before I started studying, I’d make little sticky notes with motivational quotes and such that would make me smile whenever I looked at them and this would also put me in a better mood. When I took breaks, I would go eat snacks or watch a YouTube video, anything to make me forget studies for that short period of time and this, I’ve seen, really refreshes your brain. But you need to have a lot of self-control and make sure you don’t get distracted.

What to before the exam:

Before going in for the exam, I’d make sure to get at least 5 hours of sleep. When your brain is well-rested, it’ll be able to process things better and work more efficiently. I also made sure to have a good breakfast, something that makes me more awake. I’d do quick revisions on anything that I think I should still go through and go through questions that I missed out on. Before going into the exam, id talk with my friends, make a few jokes and make myself feel relaxed. The better you feel, the better the outcome will be.

What to do during the exam:

Read the questions very carefully. Understand what exactly they’re asking and look out for keywords. Underline the actual question in the text. Pace yourselves and don’t be in a hurry to finish the exam, rather make sure you’re answering and giving all possible details in your answer that would be required. Do not panic, and if you feel like you are, look up and close your eyes, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you’ve got this. If there’s a particularly tough question that you can’t figure out then mark the question and move on to the next. Come back to that question later on after you’ve done the rest. Once you’re done with the paper, do a quick recheck and then close it. It’s done, it’s over, you don’t need to fret over it now. Put your head down and take a nap if you can.

To read more blogs as such, please click here.