CGA star student Yuhan (Linda) Tang gives you some tips on how to ace your A Level results.
Going into A Levels from International GCSE can seem like a big jump. The increase in content for each subject, and the fact that you go deeper into each concept, means there will be an increase in workload. However, A and A* grades at A Level are still very possible.
Although everyone has a slightly different way of studying, below are some tips that helped me through my eight subjects for A Levels. I hope they will give you some guidance as well. You’ve got this!
Tips for acing your A Levels
- Class time is key
Definitely try and focus during class because teachers can help explain concepts better and you can ask questions when you don’t understand.
- Revise later
Textbooks are more useful after class, where you can go through the knowledge covered in class and enhance your understanding
- Speak up
Always ask questions when you don’t understand – you’ve got nothing to lose by just asking.
- Revise some more
Going over what you have learnt during the day each night helps to consolidate the knowledge.
- Limit distractions
Try and put distractions away if you can. An app called “Forest” helps you to put your phone down (otherwise you will kill the plants that you have planted).
- Go over your mistakes
Make a list of all the exam questions you get wrong, and aim to do them again before your actual exams.
- Have a plan
Making a timetable of what to do each week/month can be useful for those who are good at following a long term schedule. For people who do not follow a schedule well, just give yourself a rough idea each morning of what you need to do today.
- Ask for help
If you think you need extra help with subject content, or help with answering exam questions efficiently, getting a tutor can help solve the problems.
- You got this!
Have a positive mindset. Believe in yourself. You can do this!
Below are some tips for each specific subject that I completed at A Level.
A Level Biology
- This is the most content heavy science with a lot of different points to remember. So making notes can be very important. Try making notes in bullet points, rather than in paragraphs. If you make notes using the textbook, be careful that you don’t end up copying paragraphs from the textbook (I did copy textbook paragraphs for a while and found that it’s not a very good way of learning as it takes up too much time, and isn’t really effective).
- Practicing the long answer exam questions can help you to enhance your understanding, and looking at the mark schemes of those questions will help you to distill out the key points.
- Write fast in a Bio exam, as there can be a lot to write compared to other science subjects.
A Level Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry can seem to be the hardest topic in the course, but trust me, once you remember all the reactions and mechanisms, these exam questions are the most fun to do. When making notes of all the reactions and mechanisms, I found that the best way is probably to go through the organic chapter in the textbook, and copy out all of the reactions, so you won’t miss out any. Reaction conditions need to be remembered as well.
- The AS Level practical paper can be quite hard, especially the ion testing part. Stay calm during the practical exam and remember to work fast.
- Make a document of all the definitions. You can find definitions in textbooks, mark schemes, the AL Chem app etc.
- Useful apps:
– Periodic Table (you can also use it to look up the elctronegativities of each element)
– AL Chem has notes which are quite useful, especially before exams!
– Beaker is quite fun to use. Mix up chemicals and explore what will happen. It also gives you the equations for the reactions.
A Level Physics
- Formulae, formulae, formulae! These must be remembered. The formula sheet given does not include everything so expand on it. During the school year, collect all the formulae learnt on a piece of paper, and go over them before final exams.
- A lot of people find the Physics practicals at AS level easier than the Chemistry ones. But don’t forget to practice using a multimeter.
- For Physics concepts, you can use PhET Interactive Stimulations to help your learning.
- Make a list of all the definitions as well, using textbooks, mark schemes to help you.
A Level Maths
- Learn the concepts and practice exam style questions.
- Almost all of the formulae needed are given on the formula sheet.
- Write clearly during the exams, and read the questions carefully (e.g. whether the question wants answers to 3 s.f. or 2 d.p.).
- Be careful what the different words mean: e.g. show, prove, explain, verify etc.
- Always check what you type on your calculator! It is very easy to press the wrong buttons.
- Learn the functions of your calculator, such as solving quadratic equations, simultaneous equations, definite integrals etc. These help to save time during exams and you can use these functions to double check your answers.
Studying is important, but balance is key to avoid burnout. Balance your school work with extracurricular activities such as sports and musical instruments. Always set some time aside to spend with family and friends to relax. Mental and physical health are important too! Don’t forget to talk to family and friends if you are stressed. Always look after yourself.
Congratulations for making it to the end of this page. Hope that the information above will give you some help and guidance during your last few years at high school. I wish you all the best for your studies!
P.S. Remember to sleep well before your exams, and a little sugary treat works well too!
Yuhan (Linda) Tang went to Pinehurst School in New Zealand where she was Dux and Deputy Head Girl. She achieved 4 A* in A Levels, as well as Top in NZ for AS Level Chemistry and A Level Physics. She received the Silver Award in New Zealand Biology, a certificate of high distinction in Australian Mathematics Competition, and Top 100 in New Zealand Senior Mathematics Competition. She was accepted into the University of Cambridge to study Medicine.