With A Levels, students can go all-in on the topics they find most fascinating. While this is fun, that doesn’t stop exams from being challenging. Naturally, some subjects will be easier to study than others.
But you don’t need to panic. Using a proper revision timetable and seeking out encouragement can make a huge difference to your exam mindset. Here’s our advice on studying for your A Levels.
Normally, A Levels are taught over two years. Learners begin their studies in Year 12, and these continue to the end of Year 13. Exams usually take place between May and June at the end of both years. Most students choose three or four subjects to study.
Like with the jump from Key Stage 3 to GCSEs, the leap from GCSEs to A Levels may feel like a lot. Pupils will be studying fewer subjects at a more focused level. This has an advantage, however. They get to choose the subjects they’re most interested in, and put all their efforts into these.
Frequent revision for each subject is crucial during this time. Ask if your school or Sixth Form college is running any programmes to help you form good revision habits, and address any nerves around studying you may have.
We all have strengths and weaknesses. Teachers should be providing regular feedback to help you identify where you’re doing well, and where you could improve. Two years is a long time to be studying, so it’s good to assess how you’re doing every so often.
Many schools and colleges will run mock exams earlier in the academic year. This lets you test your subject knowledge, and practise working under exam conditions.
You’ll also be able to highlight any areas of concern this way. This is an important time for young learners, and teachers and parents should offer all the help they can whilst sharing any praise that’s deserved.
No two schools or colleges will have exactly the same exam dates. But these generally take place around June each year, in both years 12 and 13. We can’t be specific, but here’s a loose timeline of events to help you picture what happens and when:
|November – December, or January – February
|May – June
|November, or January
|Re-sits (check with provider or exam board)
Advice for Parents and Learners
Learners need to begin revising as soon as they can. They should make lesson notes at the end of each lesson, with the topic still fresh in their memories. They can use their notes to draft exam questions for practising throughout their two years of study. They’ll learn more about their strengths and weaknesses, which they can get their parents’ support for.
Here are some of our revision tips.
- Confront Challenges Directly
To learn how much time you should dedicate to each subject, you’ll first need to identify what your strengths and weaknesses are. You can practise using several methods:
Writing paragraphs on a topic
Using open textbooks
Using closed textbooks
For any topic you find difficult, try breaking this down into smaller sub-topics and practising these regularly. Eventually, you’ll start finding these easier to comprehend and exam questions will get easier to answer.
- Plan Your Time
Nobody becomes a subject expert overnight. That’s why you need to make a revision timetable and stick to it. You’ll need to set realistic expectations about how much time you can spend, and balance this with your other commitments. Check the syllabus for each of your subjects, and think about using a checklist to keep track of what’s going well and what could be better.
- Small Chunks
Struggling to understand a topic? Try breaking it down into smaller pieces. Each part will then become easier to comprehend, as will seeing connections between them. You’ll feel good about yourself as you do this. Each mini-topic you understand is a ‘little win’.
- Parents: Check-In
Even if it’s for five minutes a day, check-in with your child and ask how their learning is going. Talk to them about how their day went, what exams are coming up, where they feel confident and not so much. Give praise where it’s deserved, but keep the pressure to a minimum. They need to do well on their own, and having your support will mean a lot.
Sometimes, things don’t always play out as we hope. But that doesn’t mean your revision efforts are wasted – it means there’s a chance to do better. Speak to your school, college or exam board for a grade review. You may be able to apply for re-marking, or you can speak to exam results helplines for advice. There may be opportunities for re-sits later.
You might not always take the linear path, but you’ll get to where you want to go with the right attitude. Stay positive – there’s more than one way to succeed.
King’s InterHigh Promotes Independent Learning
We offer an impressive range of A Level and International A Level subjects at King’s InterHigh, in a flexible learning environment. Our experienced teachers use versatile technology to bring classes to life and foster self-directed learning.
Teachers can help you decide on the right subjects, and you’ll have access to class resources throughout the year, meaning you can study when it’s convenient for you.