I know you have just started A-Levels but one of the main things I suggest you do is to learn the content from the beginning. This way, you save yourself the time going over it again in May/June time. Plus, let’s face it, when it comes to May, you’re going to have forgotten what you have learnt in September so make sure you don’t have an awful lot to learn when it comes near exam time. The way to do this is to first go over the content in class whilst making notes on that said content. Then, when you go home, review those notes so that you know it. After you have completed a topic in your lesson, then ask the teacher for some topic questions and make sure that you know how to complete all those topic questions. If the teacher cannot provide you with any, try searching for them online. If you get all the topic questions correct, then you should know that topic and if you don’t then go over your notes again to try and reduce the mistakes that you’re making. Don’t stress about how much you have to do at the start because this will burn you out by the time exam season comes so just take it one step at a time remembering that you need to learn all the content by mid June.
Throughout the year, you will probably be getting topic tests and will be given predicted grades which is dependent on how good you do on these tests. Or you might get predicted grades just based on your performance throughout the term. Either way, you will be definitely getting predicted grades based on your current performance. These grades, in my opinion, are useless. I wouldn’t even think about these grades when preparing for exams because they can limit you which is the last thing you want, especially at A-Levels. Let’s just say that your predicted grade for a certain subject was B and someone in that same class had their predicted grade as an A*. Now, after seeing these predicted grades, you’ll most definitely be thinking to yourself that you cannot perform as well as them and by having that mindset, you will limit your chances of getting the highest possible mark. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, always aim to get full marks on any test! So what if you’re predicted at a grade B or C or whatever? Aim for the highest possible mark. If people look down on you because they’re predicted higher than you, just push that to one side and focus on doing the best you can in every exam you do. Predicted grades could be damaging to your grades in another way too. Let’s say your predicted grade was an A*. Now, you’re going to be very happy with yourself and you might even fall in the black hole that is known as being complacent. I say black hole because when you get complacent, everything good gets sucked in like hard work, perseverance and most importantly, good grades. Don’t get complacent! Remember what you did to be predicted an A* in the first place. On the whole I would say not to let predicted grades define who you are and control your emotions and always aim to get the top mark and if you fail in getting full marks, then you’ll be very close near the top which is a good place to be at. Just remember this quote, ‘Aim for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars!’
I have been talking a lot about A-Levels on my website so I felt the need to address BTEC’s as well because I feel like those of you reading my website and are doing BTEC’s are left out. Don’t worry, I got you guys covered as well. With BTEC’s, I feel like it is quite simple to pass but I wouldn’t underestimate the difficulty of some of the content so this post is to help you BTEC students. BTEC’s = Coursework, we all know that. That’s one equation we all know, whether we like maths or not. What I would advise people doing BTEC’s is to go through the coursework as quick as you can. The teacher will give you a piece of coursework to complete at home or at school or both and will give you a deadline. I would finish this as quick as possible and then ask for the new coursework before it is even handed to other people. This means that you are ahead of the class and when you are finished, you will have plenty of time to either focus on A-Levels if you’re doing a mixture of both A-Levels and BTEC’s or you can chill with your mates. It also gives you the time to reflect on the past coursework you have done and then you can improve it to increase your chances of getting that D*. Remember that if some of the questions are difficult in the coursework, then you can ask A-Level students in that field and they should know the answer. If not, Google is always available. Remember, with BTEC’s, time is of the essence because deadlines can come back to haunt you if you don’t keep them in check. If you do the assignment close to the deadline, you will be playing with fire because you’re going to be juggling other stuff at school so do the assignment as soon as you get it to avoid any unnecessary problems.
To do well at A-Levels, you need to make everyday a productive day. This isn’t an easy task, so you may need some motivation to help you through each day. What helped me get through a day of A-Levels was the end goal. I envisioned what I was going to do in the future and thought “What could I do in the next 6 hours to help me get to where I want to be?” This is something which is effective because if you’re going to school thinking about being successful in the future, then how can you fail in the present? It’s impossible! The things you do in a day at school doesn’t even have to be major. Some of you are probably reading this and thinking that it sounds like too much effort to be doing in a day. It’s really not. You could research around some topics in class that you’re studying so as to familiarise yourself with the subject content. You could look for some websites that help with A-Levels and/or BTEC’s. The main thing I would say is to make notes in every lesson and when I say notes, I mean extensive notes. This is going to help you a lot when it comes to your exams. Also, later on in the year, I would say that you should look at exam questions and get some practice in before the actual exam. Do as many as you can and identify which topics you are struggling on. When you have done that, then ask the teachers for help so as to reduce you losing marks in that particular topic. After you are confident in that topic, do another practice exam and hopefully, that topic should be easier to approach. Repeat this process until you are confident in all the topics in your exam. The end goal is what will drive you to do well in your A-Levels. Envision yourself in your future career and you will see results when it comes to A-Levels. Alongside this, you need to obviously work hard and be persistent. Remember, A-Levels are not a measure of intelligence but of work ethic.
When you enter A-Levels, you’ll more likely know who is the smartest in each subject or at least have a gist. What will probably be going through your head is that you can’t do as well as them. This is the wrong mindset to have. Yes, perhaps you’re not the smartest in the year or maybe you’re not intellectually gifted. That doesn’t mean that you can’t pursue your dreams in the future. It just means that you have to work that bit harder and be more strategic in your work and revision. When you start A-Levels, don’t compare yourself to other people even people that you probably know you’ll do better than. This is because if you compare yourself to other people, then every test you do is going to be a competition and this will hinder your grades. Let me give you an example to make it more clear. Just say that there was a maths exam coming up and I wanted to beat my friend. Let’s say that he generally gets around 60/100 marks. In my head, I’m going to be thinking “I need to get about 65 and if I do that, I’ve won!” Won what? Losing 35 marks on an exam where you probably could have done way better if only you revised smarter and wasn’t concerned about what anyone else was going to get. Well, by doing this, you’re limiting yourself to only 65 marks when the exam is out of 100! So, in every exam you do, try and get the highest mark possible and have the mindset that losing a mark is not an option. This will have a positive effect on your grades.