How to succeed in your AS levels, + explanation of new A level system

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    Intro
    I have been asked by a few readers of my study log to do a post on what they can do to succeed at AS level. Bear in mind that currently (3rd July) this advice doesn't have too much substance, as I haven't received my AS level results and anything could happen. However I feel like I did pretty well and felt similar to after my GCSEs (and those went really well). So fingers crossed that I will be able to back up this advice with a nice set of results come the 18th of August!

    Stage 1 (September to December)
    I started my first year of sixth form not really knowing how much work I was going to need to do. I had of course google searched stuff like 'how to succeed at AS level' but this didn't return too much that was helpful. All I really knew was that it was going to be more work than at GCSE, but less than the numbers that were thrown about in our first assembly of the year (4/5 hours of independent work a day).

    After the first week or so, we were beginning to settle in to our new routine. I was being given homework in about 2/3 of my lessons in each subject per week. That's 8 pieces of homework per week (it was probably actually slightly higher than that). In this stage, THE ABSOLUTELY MOST important thing you can do is make sure you do absolutely all of your homework on time and you should also completely understand what you are doing in the homework, and why (for example, the sum of a geometric series) it works.

    You can get a lot of homework done in your study periods. I actually did more work in study periods in this stage of the year than at any other point (when I did more work at home). But you don't need to work flat out in every single study period, chat with your friends (especially if it's about subject related things), or make new friends by just talking about anything.

    Lastly, early tests and early revision. I don't advocate doing 2 hours of revision every night in Stage 1, as some posters on TSR say they are going to do. For me (and most other students) this is only going to lead to you getting burnt out and hating school/work. Having said that, you need to do well in your early tests/mocks or whatever you call them. Make sure you are regularly speaking to your teachers about the content you're doing, and find out which topics you are going to be tested on. Then, do some revision (for me, about 1.5 hours a day) in the week or so before the test. That's actually far more than I did, but I'm including homework as revision here. And once you get your test back, if you do well, keep going at the same work rate for the rest of Stage 1. You're doing well so far, so why change? If you did badly on the test, speak to your teacher. You will need to up your work rate accordingly, but don't panic. Seriously.

    VERY last thing- if you don't ask questions when you don't understand something or you're not 100% sure on something, you will most likely fail. Also, your revision should mainly be homework, topic specific questions and doing summaries (in the form of notes) on the stuff you've done. You won't have covered enough yet to do past papers (there will be a few exceptions to this)

    Stage 2 (January to Easter)
    Most schools have mocks in January, and it is very important you do well in these. Try and do at least 30 minutes of each subject per day (this is an average) in the 3 weeks leading up to your mocks, with obviously doing more the closer you get to each mock. This is getting you 'warmed up' for the rest of the academic year. I actually did my mocks quite late (mid February), but I was on average doing at least an hour of revision each day once the Christmas holidays had finished. There are some days when you won't do anything, some when you'll do 3 or 4 hours at home. Don't stress over it.

    From the start of February, you should start to aim for 2 hours of revision a day, and this marks the start of your revision for your summer exams. Around this time you need to start planning and tracking what you are doing (more on this later on in this post) and using the specification, and start thinking about past papers. In addition to all of this, you still need to be doing all your homework, and all the other stuff I said you need to do in Stage 1.

    Stage 3 (Easter to Exams)
    The finishing line is almost in sight! Easter was when I did a huge amount of past papers (about 4 hours a day of them), a bit of general revision, and teaching myself a few final topics we hadn't finished in class, so that I could do full past papers. But you will still have time to relax, and relax you should. Go shopping, play some sport, go walking, watch the football, etc. Otherwise you will go insane.

    After Easter I was doing 3 or 4 hours of revision each weekday, and about 5 hours each weekend. Some people will do more, some will do less. By now you will have a feel of how you are doing. After this, it's just a grind. Never give up no matter how boring you find the revision, or how hard you find a certain topic. You will be looking back at stuff you found really hard in October and laugh at how easy it now seems. You should have done every available past paper by the time your exam comes around.

    I don't really have any exam technique advice, but I'll try my best. Make sure you are eating good food and getting good sleep in the exam season, and that you are hydrated. Also make sure you read the question and understand what it is asking.

    Planning/Tracking
    One thing that I felt really helped me during Stage 2 and 3 was planning and tracking anything to do with exams and revision. I will definitely be doing this again (and starting it earlier) for A2.

    Planning just means setting out what you want to achieve on a certain day. In February and March, this was mainly something like '1 hour of chemistry' or '30 minutes of French grammar'. That was fine, as it was just general revision and helped massively, but eventually I had to switch to task-based planning. This means for each day writing stuff like 'June 2014 Core 1 Paper' or 'Review specification for Chemistry Topic 4'. You should have an idea of how long this will all take, but the time isn't too important. Planning every day from Easter to Mid-June took me about 4 hours, but it was worth it.

    Tracking means making an Excel speadsheet to track your past papers. Have a 'sheet' for each subject, and then a row for each each exam session (such as January 2013, June 2012 R, June 2011). Then as columns have the different papers in that subject (such as Core 1, Core 2 and Stats 1). If you're a bit of a nerd (like me), you can do some conditional formatting so that the cells go green for a good past paper score, amber for an okay score, and red for a bad score. This then helps you to PLAN, as you can see which past papers you haven't done, and which you need to do again.

    New A level System
    I've seen a few posts by Year 11s about the new A level system, and usually they're completely wrong and based on speculation. For people starting AS levels in September 2016, the main subjects that I believe will still be old, modular style is Maths (and Further Maths), Government and Politics and Media Studies. There are others, but search it up yourself. For these subjects, your AS level exams will count for 50% of your whole A level grade, and you will sit exams in these regardless of if you are planning to drop or continue the subject to A2.

    Most of your subjects will be in the new linear style, which is where most people get confused. With these subjects, it is ONLY your year 13 exams that count towards your whole A level grade. In these exams you will be assessed on content from both years of the course.

    In year 12, you may or may not take the AS level exams in your subjects. Some schools want their students to do the AS exams as preparation for the next year, or for a concrete example of that student's ability that they can put on their UCAS form or whatever. For students whose school aren't doing the official AS exams, you will do mocks in these subjects, and these will be taken very seriously as they will be the basis for your university predicted grades.

    Lastly, some subjects don't have an AS exams at all. Art and English are 2 subjects that I know don't have AS exams.

    Outro
    That is pretty much all I've got to say. Ask any questions and I will answer them. Note that when I say 'revision' in these posts, I usually mean revision done at home'. Work it out yourselves.
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    Good luck for your results
    I am in the same position as you mate, all the best
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    That Arab Guy
    You might like reading this :rofl:
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    That's a very detailed and useful post. I'm sure many people will find it useful.
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    (Original post by richpanda)
    Intro
    I have been asked by a few readers of my study log to do a post on what they can do to succeed at AS level. Bear in mind that currently (3rd July) this advice doesn't have too much substance, as I haven't received my AS level results and anything could happen. However I feel like I did pretty well and felt similar to after my GCSEs (and those went really well). So fingers crossed that I will be able to back up this advice with a nice set of results come the 18th of August!

    Stage 1 (September to December)
    I started my first year of sixth form not really knowing how much work I was going to need to do. I had of course google searched stuff like 'how to succeed at AS level' but this didn't return too much that was helpful. All I really knew was that it was going to be more work than at GCSE, but less than the numbers that were thrown about in our first assembly of the year (4/5 hours of independent work a day).

    After the first week or so, we were beginning to settle in to our new routine. I was being given homework in about 2/3 of my lessons in each subject per week. That's 8 pieces of homework per week (it was probably actually slightly higher than that). In this stage, THE ABSOLUTELY MOST important thing you can do is make sure you do absolutely all of your homework on time and you should also completely understand what you are doing in the homework, and why (for example, the sum of a geometric series) it works.

    You can get a lot of homework done in your study periods. I actually did more work in study periods in this stage of the year than at any other point (when I did more work at home). But you don't need to work flat out in every single study period, chat with your friends (especially if it's about subject related things), or make new friends by just talking about anything.

    Lastly, early tests and early revision. I don't advocate doing 2 hours of revision every night in Stage 1, as some posters on TSR say they are going to do. For me (and most other students) this is only going to lead to you getting burnt out and hating school/work. Having said that, you need to do well in your early tests/mocks or whatever you call them. Make sure you are regularly speaking to your teachers about the content you're doing, and find out which topics you are going to be tested on. Then, do some revision (for me, about 1.5 hours a day) in the week or so before the test. That's actually far more than I did, but I'm including homework as revision here. And once you get your test back, if you do well, keep going at the same work rate for the rest of Stage 1. You're doing well so far, so why change? If you did badly on the test, speak to your teacher. You will need to up your work rate accordingly, but don't panic. Seriously.

    VERY last thing- if you don't ask questions when you don't understand something or you're not 100% sure on something, you will most likely fail. Also, your revision should mainly be homework, topic specific questions and doing summaries (in the form of notes) on the stuff you've done. You won't have covered enough yet to do past papers (there will be a few exceptions to this)

    Stage 2 (January to Easter)
    Most schools have mocks in January, and it is very important you do well in these. Try and do at least 30 minutes of each subject per day (this is an average) in the 3 weeks leading up to your mocks, with obviously doing more the closer you get to each mock. This is getting you 'warmed up' for the rest of the academic year. I actually did my mocks quite late (mid February), but I was on average doing at least an hour of revision each day once the Christmas holidays had finished. There are some days when you won't do anything, some when you'll do 3 or 4 hours at home. Don't stress over it.

    From the start of February, you should start to aim for 2 hours of revision a day, and this marks the start of your revision for your summer exams. Around this time you need to start planning and tracking what you are doing (more on this later on in this post) and using the specification, and start thinking about past papers. In addition to all of this, you still need to be doing all your homework, and all the other stuff I said you need to do in Stage 1.

    Stage 3 (Easter to Exams)
    The finishing line is almost in sight! Easter was when I did a huge amount of past papers (about 4 hours a day of them), a bit of general revision, and teaching myself a few final topics we hadn't finished in class, so that I could do full past papers. But you will still have time to relax, and relax you should. Go shopping, play some sport, go walking, watch the football, etc. Otherwise you will go insane.

    After Easter I was doing 3 or 4 hours of revision each weekday, and about 5 hours each weekend. Some people will do more, some will do less. By now you will have a feel of how you are doing. After this, it's just a grind. Never give up no matter how boring you find the revision, or how hard you find a certain topic. You will be looking back at stuff you found really hard in October and laugh at how easy it now seems. You should have done every available past paper by the time your exam comes around.

    I don't really have any exam technique advice, but I'll try my best. Make sure you are eating good food and getting good sleep in the exam season, and that you are hydrated. Also make sure you read the question and understand what it is asking.

    Planning/Tracking
    One thing that I felt really helped me during Stage 2 and 3 was planning and tracking anything to do with exams and revision. I will definitely be doing this again (and starting it earlier) for A2.

    Planning just means setting out what you want to achieve on a certain day. In February and March, this was mainly something like '1 hour of chemistry' or '30 minutes of French grammar'. That was fine, as it was just general revision and helped massively, but eventually I had to switch to task-based planning. This means for each day writing stuff like 'June 2014 Core 1 Paper' or 'Review specification for Chemistry Topic 4'. You should have an idea of how long this will all take, but the time isn't too important. Planning every day from Easter to Mid-June took me about 4 hours, but it was worth it.

    Tracking means making an Excel speadsheet to track your past papers. Have a 'sheet' for each subject, and then a row for each each exam session (such as January 2013, June 2012 R, June 2011). Then as columns have the different papers in that subject (such as Core 1, Core 2 and Stats 1). If you're a bit of a nerd (like me), you can do some conditional formatting so that the cells go green for a good past paper score, amber for an okay score, and red for a bad score. This then helps you to PLAN, as you can see which past papers you haven't done, and which you need to do again.

    New A level System
    I've seen a few posts by Year 11s about the new A level system, and usually they're completely wrong and based on speculation. For people starting AS levels in September 2016, the main subjects that I believe will still be old, modular style is Maths (and Further Maths), Government and Politics and Media Studies. There are others, but search it up yourself. For these subjects, your AS level exams will count for 50% of your whole A level grade, and you will sit exams in these regardless of if you are planning to drop or continue the subject to A2.

    Most of your subjects will be in the new linear style, which is where most people get confused. With these subjects, it is ONLY your year 13 exams that count towards your whole A level grade. In these exams you will be assessed on content from both years of the course.

    In year 12, you may or may not take the AS level exams in your subjects. Some schools want their students to do the AS exams as preparation for the next year, or for a concrete example of that student's ability that they can put on their UCAS form or whatever. For students whose school aren't doing the official AS exams, you will do mocks in these subjects, and these will be taken very seriously as they will be the basis for your university predicted grades.

    Lastly, some subjects don't have an AS exams at all. Art and English are 2 subjects that I know don't have AS exams.

    Outro
    That is pretty much all I've got to say. Ask any questions and I will answer them. Note that when I say 'revision' in these posts, I usually mean revision done at home'. Work it out yourselves.
    In the new a level system is it possible to take 4 subjects and drop one of them, and after dropping one of them would it count as an as qualification or nothing?
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    (Original post by richpanda)
    Intro
    I have been asked by a few readers of my study log to do a post on what they can do to succeed at AS level. Bear in mind that currently (3rd July) this advice doesn't have too much substance, as I haven't received my AS level results and anything could happen. However I feel like I did pretty well and felt similar to after my GCSEs (and those went really well). So fingers crossed that I will be able to back up this advice with a nice set of results come the 18th of August!

    Stage 1 (September to December)
    I started my first year of sixth form not really knowing how much work I was going to need to do. I had of course google searched stuff like 'how to succeed at AS level' but this didn't return too much that was helpful. All I really knew was that it was going to be more work than at GCSE, but less than the numbers that were thrown about in our first assembly of the year (4/5 hours of independent work a day).

    After the first week or so, we were beginning to settle in to our new routine. I was being given homework in about 2/3 of my lessons in each subject per week. That's 8 pieces of homework per week (it was probably actually slightly higher than that). In this stage, THE ABSOLUTELY MOST important thing you can do is make sure you do absolutely all of your homework on time and you should also completely understand what you are doing in the homework, and why (for example, the sum of a geometric series) it works.

    You can get a lot of homework done in your study periods. I actually did more work in study periods in this stage of the year than at any other point (when I did more work at home). But you don't need to work flat out in every single study period, chat with your friends (especially if it's about subject related things), or make new friends by just talking about anything.

    Lastly, early tests and early revision. I don't advocate doing 2 hours of revision every night in Stage 1, as some posters on TSR say they are going to do. For me (and most other students) this is only going to lead to you getting burnt out and hating school/work. Having said that, you need to do well in your early tests/mocks or whatever you call them. Make sure you are regularly speaking to your teachers about the content you're doing, and find out which topics you are going to be tested on. Then, do some revision (for me, about 1.5 hours a day) in the week or so before the test. That's actually far more than I did, but I'm including homework as revision here. And once you get your test back, if you do well, keep going at the same work rate for the rest of Stage 1. You're doing well so far, so why change? If you did badly on the test, speak to your teacher. You will need to up your work rate accordingly, but don't panic. Seriously.

    VERY last thing- if you don't ask questions when you don't understand something or you're not 100% sure on something, you will most likely fail. Also, your revision should mainly be homework, topic specific questions and doing summaries (in the form of notes) on the stuff you've done. You won't have covered enough yet to do past papers (there will be a few exceptions to this)

    Stage 2 (January to Easter)
    Most schools have mocks in January, and it is very important you do well in these. Try and do at least 30 minutes of each subject per day (this is an average) in the 3 weeks leading up to your mocks, with obviously doing more the closer you get to each mock. This is getting you 'warmed up' for the rest of the academic year. I actually did my mocks quite late (mid February), but I was on average doing at least an hour of revision each day once the Christmas holidays had finished. There are some days when you won't do anything, some when you'll do 3 or 4 hours at home. Don't stress over it.

    From the start of February, you should start to aim for 2 hours of revision a day, and this marks the start of your revision for your summer exams. Around this time you need to start planning and tracking what you are doing (more on this later on in this post) and using the specification, and start thinking about past papers. In addition to all of this, you still need to be doing all your homework, and all the other stuff I said you need to do in Stage 1.

    Stage 3 (Easter to Exams)
    The finishing line is almost in sight! Easter was when I did a huge amount of past papers (about 4 hours a day of them), a bit of general revision, and teaching myself a few final topics we hadn't finished in class, so that I could do full past papers. But you will still have time to relax, and relax you should. Go shopping, play some sport, go walking, watch the football, etc. Otherwise you will go insane.

    After Easter I was doing 3 or 4 hours of revision each weekday, and about 5 hours each weekend. Some people will do more, some will do less. By now you will have a feel of how you are doing. After this, it's just a grind. Never give up no matter how boring you find the revision, or how hard you find a certain topic. You will be looking back at stuff you found really hard in October and laugh at how easy it now seems. You should have done every available past paper by the time your exam comes around.

    I don't really have any exam technique advice, but I'll try my best. Make sure you are eating good food and getting good sleep in the exam season, and that you are hydrated. Also make sure you read the question and understand what it is asking.

    Planning/Tracking
    One thing that I felt really helped me during Stage 2 and 3 was planning and tracking anything to do with exams and revision. I will definitely be doing this again (and starting it earlier) for A2.

    Planning just means setting out what you want to achieve on a certain day. In February and March, this was mainly something like '1 hour of chemistry' or '30 minutes of French grammar'. That was fine, as it was just general revision and helped massively, but eventually I had to switch to task-based planning. This means for each day writing stuff like 'June 2014 Core 1 Paper' or 'Review specification for Chemistry Topic 4'. You should have an idea of how long this will all take, but the time isn't too important. Planning every day from Easter to Mid-June took me about 4 hours, but it was worth it.

    Tracking means making an Excel speadsheet to track your past papers. Have a 'sheet' for each subject, and then a row for each each exam session (such as January 2013, June 2012 R, June 2011). Then as columns have the different papers in that subject (such as Core 1, Core 2 and Stats 1). If you're a bit of a nerd (like me), you can do some conditional formatting so that the cells go green for a good past paper score, amber for an okay score, and red for a bad score. This then helps you to PLAN, as you can see which past papers you haven't done, and which you need to do again.

    New A level System
    I've seen a few posts by Year 11s about the new A level system, and usually they're completely wrong and based on speculation. For people starting AS levels in September 2016, the main subjects that I believe will still be old, modular style is Maths (and Further Maths), Government and Politics and Media Studies. There are others, but search it up yourself. For these subjects, your AS level exams will count for 50% of your whole A level grade, and you will sit exams in these regardless of if you are planning to drop or continue the subject to A2.

    Most of your subjects will be in the new linear style, which is where most people get confused. With these subjects, it is ONLY your year 13 exams that count towards your whole A level grade. In these exams you will be assessed on content from both years of the course.

    In year 12, you may or may not take the AS level exams in your subjects. Some schools want their students to do the AS exams as preparation for the next year, or for a concrete example of that student's ability that they can put on their UCAS form or whatever. For students whose school aren't doing the official AS exams, you will do mocks in these subjects, and these will be taken very seriously as they will be the basis for your university predicted grades.

    Lastly, some subjects don't have an AS exams at all. Art and English are 2 subjects that I know don't have AS exams.

    Outro
    That is pretty much all I've got to say. Ask any questions and I will answer them. Note that when I say 'revision' in these posts, I usually mean revision done at home'. Work it out yourselves.
    Essay subject student detected
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    (Original post by AngryRedhead)
    Essay subject student detected
    nope, STEM master race. An essay subject student wouldn't have made it so structured with subtitles

    (Original post by theBranicAc)
    In the new a level system is it possible to take 4 subjects and drop one of them, and after dropping one of them would it count as an as qualification or nothing?
    yes, but only if your school allows you to do the actual AS exam if that makes sense? Then you are allowed to 'cash out' and take the AS grade.
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    tagging some people from grow your grades who have just done GCSEs:

    Bulletzone
    kennethdcharles
    nisha.sri
    brainzistheword
    MezmorisedPotato
    NiamhM1801
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    (Original post by CheeseIsVeg)
    Too much writing
    Spoiler:
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    Good luck for your results
    I am in the same position as you mate, all the best
    Good luck to you too
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    A very detailed coverage of how to approach AS level revision! Thank you and I will definitely refer to this! It will be bookmarked
    Just one question. I heard UMS is being removed for these exams from September 2016. Is this true and what effect will this have.
    Again, thank you for this very useful information.
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    (Original post by richpanda)
    Good luck to you too

    Can I ask what a level subjects you did and what you got in the end?
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    (Original post by MezmorisedPotato)
    A very detailed coverage of how to approach AS level revision! Thank you and I will definitely refer to this! It will be bookmarked
    Just one question. I heard UMS is being removed for these exams from September 2016. Is this true and what effect will this have.
    Again, thank you for this very useful information.
    I'm not too sure on the UMS for the new linear subjects, I will find out on results day!

    (Original post by Rajive)
    Can I ask what a level subjects you did and what you got in the end?
    Go back and read the first paragraph of my OP.
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    (Original post by richpanda)
    I'm not too sure on the UMS for the new linear subjects, I will find out on results day!



    Go back and read the first paragraph of my OP.

    Oh sorry, what subjects did you do then?
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    (Original post by Rajive)
    Oh sorry, what subjects did you do then?
    Maths, Chemistry, Physics and French
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    (Original post by MezmorisedPotato)
    A very detailed coverage of how to approach AS level revision! Thank you and I will definitely refer to this! It will be bookmarked
    Just one question. I heard UMS is being removed for these exams from September 2016. Is this true and what effect will this have.
    Again, thank you for this very useful information.
    (Original post by richpanda)
    I'm not too sure on the UMS for the new linear subjects, I will find out on results day!



    Go back and read the first paragraph of my OP.
    There is no UMS for new A-levels. UMS is not needed for linear qualifications. It's why you didn't get a UMS mark for GCSE Maths, because it is compulsory to take all the exams in one season.
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    (Original post by richpanda)
    tagging some people from grow your grades who have just done GCSEs:

    Bulletzone
    kennethdcharles
    nisha.sri
    brainzistheword
    MezmorisedPotato
    NiamhM1801
    Thank you, this is very helpful!
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    Thanks for this bro. I have bookmarked it and will certainly refer to it for my AS exams.
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    (Original post by kennethdcharles)
    Thanks for this bro. I have bookmarked it and will certainly refer to it for my AS exams.
    No worries.
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    Any more questions?
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    Another thing is that to succeed you need to be a certain type of person. Some people just won't do well at A level, no matter how hard they try. It's sad but true.
 
 
 
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