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Top Ten Tips (A Levels)

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    • Thread Starter

    What are your ten top tips for someone who is going to start A levels this September?

    Thanks =)

    Er, would help if we knew what they were... tips which apply for maths I doubt would be helpful for things like art/drama. =l

    1. Subjects - choose subjects you *like* and are naturally quite good at. But at the same time, if you're intending to apply for a degree in say, Engineering, then make sure you're completing the required A-levels (Physics/Maths in this case).

    Try to avoid subjects that Universities specifically reject, such as Critical Thinking or General Studies at A2. "Facilitating subjects" help make you stand out more if you're applying for top RG/league Universities.


    2. Pre-learn a little during the summer. Three months is more than enough for most students to forget anywhere from 30% to 50% of what they've written for their exams. If you're a little ahead, you'd find the rest of the year quite straightforward in comparison.

    3. Pre-learn a bit before your classes. If you read a chapter or two ahead, or even just two weeks ahead, it's easier to focus on your lectures and know what you need help on. If you're already falling a few weeks behind, it'll be extremely difficult to get back on track. Just remember that Rome wasn't built in a day - it takes about 100 hours to really master any particular module.

    4. Channel your inner 4-year-old. Don't be afraid to ask "why?" Elaborative interrogation techniques are really helpful to develop the understanding necessary for A-level subjects. GCSEs are designed to be accessible for everyone so the expectations of understanding is much lower - this is drastically changed.

    5. Revise *effectively* during your school year - and revise early. Good revision involves use of either flash cards (moderately effective) or practice exam questions (highly effective). http://tguilfoyle.cmswiki.wikispaces...oesn't.pdf - if you've learned through re-reading books or highlighting in GCSEs then you've got to completely overhaul how you revise.

    6. Use online resources. The teaching lectures are probably already online on YouTube somewhere at no cost. If it's mathematics, then ExamSolutions and HegartyMaths has got your back. If it's Economics, then pajholden will have a lecture for you. If it's Physics, DrPhysicsA will have something for you. If it's Chemistry/Biology, KhansAcademy and http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=302052.

    Physical sciences in general - Physics and Maths Tutor will probably have something for you.

    7. Teach someone else. It doesn't matter whether that someone else is your mum or your friends, it forces you to break down a subject into its simplest forms so that it's digestible. That's one of the most effective ways to revise because memory is about a network of associations, and you're strengthening it if you're forced to reduce the complexity for someone else.

    8. Take breaks. Try to avoid overworking yourself during the year. This will be the most intensive level of studying you may have for your academic career, but it doesn't mean you should overwhelm yourself. It's not a bad suggestion to have a 10 minute break every hour or so.

    But be disciplined with your breaks and avoid procrastination - social media and NetFlix and TSR and reddit and GoT and Doctor Who and online gaming like LoL/WoW etc can eat up more time than you bargained for.

    9. Exam technique. One of the best ways to develop this is to become very familiar with the mark schemes and examiner's reports - it can turn a B to A grade student into an A* student. Effective exam technique involves understanding what the examiner's looking for and how mark allocation works, efficient use of time, and knowing what to do with the information you're given.

    An exam is about retrieving something from long-term memory and processing/applying it into coherent thought units, in the steps of attention/encoding/retrieval. The retrieval part of the process (during exams) can only be optimized if you've already optimized attention/encoding. If you're struggling to "get" a subject, it might be worth understanding the core material better first.

    10. Socialize. Don't forget that your exam results aren't going to mean that much in several years, assuming you have been successful in entering University. It's important to make sure you have a good time at sixth form, it's hard to get good results for even the best students unless they're happy.
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