The academic year has only just started, but already I have heard students talking about the “jump” from GCSE expectations and A Level expectations. Workloads have increased dramatically; teacher expectations have increased for investment of time and effort; students tell me that they can’t believe it’s so early in the year, but the pressure is well and truly on.
Time does indeed fly when you realise exactly how much work you have to cover, understand, memorise and apply. Students who achieved excellent grades at GCSE level are starting to twig that the effort invested for returns made previously, has to be magnified and with interest.
As I bang on periodically to my students, “It’s never too early to start A Level revision”. This applies especially to AS revision as it will form the good habits in the earlier stages that see you through the tougher, later exams.
AS revision should comprise both reading of notes and application of that content. The percentage of students who are able to memorise and recall at a high level based on note-reading alone is small. Even photographic memories can be prone to difficulties when “developing the picture”. Try to write your own summary questions, or use those given to you, to make you manipulate and apply concepts about which you’ve been reading. Mind-mapping – where you use a keyword or phrase to link onto many different elements related to that central key – can be very helpful.
A level revision is only effective when it means doing exactly what it says on the tin…re-vision…seeing something again. If the first time you see material is during an exam revision course, then you’re already at a disadvantage from everyone else who’s covered it before. Make sure that you’re working through your curriculum on target – checking in with your teacher can ensure that you’re on track. At least you’ll then know if you haven’t covered the material and you can make alternate arrangements.
Most A Level revision courses expect you to have covered the curriculum prior to attendance. You may have weak areas of understanding within the content, but you have at least seen the concepts once before. To make best use of an exam revision course, make sure you’ve done your preparation at the basic level of covering the curriculum. Then you can really focus hard on the sections of poor understanding – and acquire the exam technique necessary to best use the material that you understand well.
Miranda Banks is the Performance Psychologist for Exam Confidence Ltd, a leading provider of exceptional exam revision courses facilitated by Chief and Principal Examiners.
For more information, please visit our website at www.examconfidence.co.uk.