I can’t believe it’s March already! That means I’ve been at college for 7 months and am well into my first year of A Levels. With exam season nearing ever closer, I started revising a few weeks ago and it’s been a bit of a learning curve to say the least, so I thought I’d share a few revision tips I’ve learnt over the past few weeks and just general tips for studying A Levels in general! Obviously if you’re not studying A Levels, you can still adapt these tips to help you and feel free to comment more advice below. 🙂
Make sure you have a good set of notes to revise from
This is something that ideally you should do as you go along, rather than in the last few months before exams. Always make sure your notes are up to scratch after each lesson and consult the course books to see if any extra detail can be added. I know some people like to do this by just rereading their notes after lesson and checking they’ve got all the information they need on that topic, and others who rewrite their notes to make sure they have a neat set of notes which are set out clearly and will make the revision process easier. I do the latter in a way – since September I have been rewriting my notes after each lesson onto little index cards which have turned out to be really useful to help with revision as all the information is laid in manageable, bite-sized chunks. But do whatever works for you, just make sure you have covered all the information required before the time revision starts so you’re not learning something for the first time just before your exams.
Make sure you know the course content
This sort of links in with the last point – in order to have good notes from which to revise, you need to make sure you’re keeping up with the required course content. You can do this by checking the text book after lesson to see if there’s anything you’ve missed or downloading the specification for your course from the exam board website which will tell you exactly what you are required to know as part of the course.
Also sometimes you won’t have time to cover all of the course content in lesson – I know sometimes we don’t have time to study a chapter or two (or three or four *cough cough GEOGRAPHY*) but make sure you don’t leave this until revision starts because it will just be added stress to try to learn something for the first time whilst revising everything else! A good way to avoid this is use half-terms to catch up on any chapters/topics you may have not had time to cover that term before you move on to the next unit and completely forget about all the stuff you missed out.
Revision timetables can be flexible
Whilst I’d definitely recommend making a revision timetable to help you structure and organise your revision and ensure you have adequate time to cover all the topics before exams arrive, your timetable doesn’t have to be set in stone. It can seem quite daunting to have a set list of things you need to do and sometimes I find it stresses me out because it can feel like revision is taking over my life and I constantly worry over the fact that I have to revise depositional landforms or the prohibition era today and I can’t relax until I’ve done it, which is quite frankly stress I don’t need! So I’ve discovered that not having a fixed timetable is more relaxing and productive.
When I’m making a timetable, I will assign a subject for revision to particular days (e.g. Monday’s = geography, Tuesday’s = history) BUT I don’t force myself to stick to doing those things on those days. Sometimes I’ll get home after a long day at college on Monday and won’t feel like spending more time on geography after my 3.5 hrs of geography lessons,so I’ll do history or French instead. Or other times I’ll be really tired so take an evening off and reschedule that revision to later on in the week. Or I’ll do half of the planned revision and do the rest the next day/before college if I have some spare time. The only restrictions I would advise to place on your revision timetable even if you want to make it as flexible as possible, is to complete all the revision planned for that week before the start of the next week, because putting revision off until it piles up does not help and you’d just get so behind.
For some people, having a rigid timetable might work, but if you’re like me and having set times to certain things stresses you out more, then adopting a strategy like this might work!
Take advantage of moments of motivationSomething a lot of people struggle with during the revision process is motivation. It can seem like revision is a never-ending process and after a while it can get repetitive and tedious, causing you to want to give up. That’s why it’s a good way to take advantage of moments of motivation – if you suddenly get an urge to go over standard deviation or the imperfect tense, there’s no point forcing yourself to revise the acceleration of globalisation just because it’s scheduled on your revision timetable. This links in again with the last point about flexible timetabling – at the end of the day you’re going to be most productive if you’re revising something that you want to revise and are feeling motivated to revise in that moment. That being said, don’t use this an excuse to put off topics that are harder/are less interested in – even if you have to make deal with yourself to revise a harder topic than an easier topic that you enjoy more. It’s all about finding a varied balance of revision to keep you engaged.
Revision is very much trial and error
At GCSE I found it was fairly easy to just revise each subject in the same way – by making mindmap, flashcards, rewriting notes etc – but since starting A Levels in September I’ve found it much harder to revise for them. For one thing, the subjects are much more diverse meaning certain revision methods work for some subjects or units and not others, which does mean you have to plan your revision more carefully to ensure you give yourself enough time to revise in he most effective way for each unit – saldy last minute cramming DOES NOT work with A Levels! Secondly, there is just so much content in A Levels that some revision techniques are just too time-consuming to be effective – it’s all about finding the balance between efficiency and effectiveness which might take a lot of trial and error.
For example I reluctantly came to the conclusion yesterday that my method of revising French had not been working for the past few weeks, but that’s okay because if you start revising a bit earlier than needed, you can evaluate your revision process as you go along and if you find, like me, that something isn’t working, you have enough time to fix it without losing valuable revision time.
So that’s a few tips that I’ve learnt from studying A Levels and attempting to figure out how the heck it’s possible to revise SO MUCH content for the exams in the summer, hopefully they’ll be useful to some of you and if you have anymore advice you’d like to share regarding revision, please feel free!