I need to achieve A*A*A* in fast track A-levels

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Taradis
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Hello, I'm fast-tracking my A-levels. I won't bother you with all the details but from my calculations, I have about 8 months to achieve A* in AS and A-level Biology, Psychology and Sociology. And I can not afford any tutors or classes of any kind. My exam provider is going to be Cambridge Assessment, CIE.
I would really appreciate any tips and strategies you can give me.
I've also always had a problem with time management on tests and exams due to high levels of anxiety which causes a dense fog to appear in my brain. So any recommendations regarding this matter is very welcome as well.
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aconstanthamlet
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(Original post by Taradis)
Hello, I'm fast-tracking my A-levels. I won't bother you with all the details but from my calculations, I have about 8 months to achieve A* in AS and A-level Biology, Psychology and Sociology. And I can not afford any tutors or classes of any kind. My exam provider is going to be Cambridge Assessment, CIE.
I would really appreciate any tips and strategies you can give me.
I've also always had a problem with time management on tests and exams due to high levels of anxiety which causes a dense fog to appear in my brain. So any recommendations regarding this matter is very welcome as well.
Hello!

First of all, which subjects are you taking at AS level and which subjects are you taking at A2? The time that you spend on each subject will greatly depend on which qualification you plan on sitting.

Second of all, are you taking these from scratch or is this your second year of study? If you're taking all of these from scratch then 3 A*s will require an insane amount of work that must not be underestimated. I'm sure you already know this but you must bear this in mind.

Third of all, are you studying at sixth form or college or self-teaching? If the latter is true then you need to make a timetable for yourself: if you're studying for AS/second year of A-Level then you need to be clocking in at least five hours of content a week with further time to study and consolidate. If you're sitting an A2 exam from scratch with 8 months to prepare then you need to be taking out around 10 hours a week to cover content with further time to revise and consolidate.

First things first, if you're self-studying, make a weekly time table for yourself. Follow this diligently. Time management was something that I struggled to deal with, but there are ways of improving this:

For Biology, use past papers! Don't blow out the past papers online, obliviously they are limited. Practice some slowly, taking time to answer the question and carefully check your response with the mark scheme. Then do another timed and then mark your paper afterwards. Highlight the areas that you struggled with in the papers and take time to carefully consolidate these topics. If you struggled with remembering content then revise the content of those topics so knowledge is no longer a problem. If the way you calculated an answer or your wording in your response was where you lost marks, make sure you practice questions from the textbook or find examples of an ideal answer online so you have a better understanding of the style of answer the examiner is looking for.

For psychology and sociology, practicing timed essays will be key, although it won't hurt to write a few essays to the best of your ability that you can use a reference point whenever you're struggling with nailing the style or structure of a particular essay.
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Taradis
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(Original post by aconstanthamlet)
Hello!

First of all, which subjects are you taking at AS level and which subjects are you taking at A2? The time that you spend on each subject will greatly depend on which qualification you plan on sitting.

Second of all, are you taking these from scratch or is this your second year of study? If you're taking all of these from scratch then 3 A*s will require an insane amount of work that must not be underestimated. I'm sure you already know this but you must bear this in mind.

Third of all, are you studying at sixth form or college or self-teaching? If the latter is true then you need to make a timetable for yourself: if you're studying for AS/second year of A-Level then you need to be clocking in at least five hours of content a week with further time to study and consolidate. If you're sitting an A2 exam from scratch with 8 months to prepare then you need to be taking out around 10 hours a week to cover content with further time to revise and consolidate.

First things first, if you're self-studying, make a weekly time table for yourself. Follow this diligently. Time management was something that I struggled to deal with, but there are ways of improving this:

For Biology, use past papers! Don't blow out the past papers online, obliviously they are limited. Practice some slowly, taking time to answer the question and carefully check your response with the mark scheme. Then do another timed and then mark your paper afterwards. Highlight the areas that you struggled with in the papers and take time to carefully consolidate these topics. If you struggled with remembering content then revise the content of those topics so knowledge is no longer a problem. If the way you calculated an answer or your wording in your response was where you lost marks, make sure you practice questions from the textbook or find examples of an ideal answer online so you have a better understanding of the style of answer the examiner is looking for.

For psychology and sociology, practicing timed essays will be key, although it won't hurt to write a few essays to the best of your ability that you can use a reference point whenever you're struggling with nailing the style or structure of a particular essay.
Thank you for your reply. I am taking all three subject for both levels. I thought that's the custom? Am I wrong?
The thing I was a bit confused by were the exam components from which I had to choose. What is a practical Biology exam like?
I will be self-studying and taking exams in a country near mine (We don't have A-levels here).
I am taking these from scratch but I am familiar with some of the content, especially from psychology. I've actually never studied in English before but I find it more exciting than intimidating. Partially because I find all the subjects fascinating.
I'd be willing to study for 6 to 8 hour a day but I'd have to build my way up to that because I'm not used to that much studying and it's been some time since I've studied anything. Is there anything specific that I need to know about the mark scheme? All I've heard so far about it is that it is evil and you need to be very specific with your wording. But I don't know what exactly that means.
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Panjsuce
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Do you need to or want to? Make that distinction first
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Taradis
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(Original post by Panjsuce)
Do you need to or want to? Make that distinction first
I need at least A*AA. But My goal is A*A*A* because it might improve my chance of getting a scholarship. And that's totally a need.
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Interea
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(Original post by Taradis)
I need at least A*AA. But My goal is A*A*A* because it might improve my chance of getting a scholarship. And that's totally a need.
Why do you need to do them this year? 3 A levels is a full workload for most UK students over the course of two years, let along getting such good grades - I fear you may be setting yourself up to burn out.
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aconstanthamlet
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(Original post by Taradis)
Thank you for your reply. I am taking all three subject for both levels. I thought that's the custom? Am I wrong?
The thing I was a bit confused by were the exam components from which I had to choose. What is a practical Biology exam like?
I will be self-studying and taking exams in a country near mine (We don't have A-levels here).
I am taking these from scratch but I am familiar with some of the content, especially from psychology. I've actually never studied in English before but I find it more exciting than intimidating. Partially because I find all the subjects fascinating.
I'd be willing to study for 6 to 8 hour a day but I'd have to build my way up to that because I'm not used to that much studying and it's been some time since I've studied anything. Is there anything specific that I need to know about the mark scheme? All I've heard so far about it is that it is evil and you need to be very specific with your wording. But I don't know what exactly that means.
Ahhhh, the reason I asked is because a lot of students in the UK don't take AS exams anymore. We just sit the A2 exams, half of which covers the AS content. But if you're planning on taking the A2 exams anyway it would be worthless sitting the AS exams. Anyway, we've established that you're sitting three full A-Levels which is what matters!

I don't personally know what the practical exam is like for Biology. What I said in my previous post was based on advice that friends and family who took A-Level Biology have outlined. The mark scheme is very specific for Biology, so I'd say look at previous mark schemes and examiner comments (these can be found on the CIE website) to get a solid understanding of what terms they expect you to use and what style of response they want to see.

I'll also reiterate what Interea has already said: don't burn yourself out. Achieving 3 A*s is an ambitious feat for students who are studying the course over two years, let alone 8 months. It's great that you're excited about the process ahead, but please don't underestimate the intensity of study that will be required from you if you want to achieve 3 A*s in such a short amount of time.
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Taradis
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(Original post by Interea)
Why do you need to do them this year? 3 A levels is a full workload for most UK students over the course of two years, let along getting such good grades - I fear you may be setting yourself up to burn out.
I understand. But it's just something I have to do. I've delayed my education for long enough due to not feeling well. And now that I feel better I don't want to take it slow. I work better under pressure and being under pressure gives me more energy. I'm afraid that if I drag out the time before I can go to Uni further, I'd get really frustrated. But yes getting burned out is very much possible.
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Taradis
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(Original post by aconstanthamlet)
Ahhhh, the reason I asked is because a lot of students in the UK don't take AS exams anymore. We just sit the A2 exams, half of which covers the AS content. But if you're planning on taking the A2 exams anyway it would be worthless sitting the AS exams. Anyway, we've established that you're sitting three full A-Levels which is what matters!

I don't personally know what the practical exam is like for Biology. What I said in my previous post was based on advice that friends and family who took A-Level Biology have outlined. The mark scheme is very specific for Biology, so I'd say look at previous mark schemes and examiner comments (these can be found on the CIE website) to get a solid understanding of what terms they expect you to use and what style of response they want to see.

I'll also reiterate what Interea has already said: don't burn yourself out. Achieving 3 A*s is an ambitious feat for students who are studying the course over two years, let alone 8 months. It's great that you're excited about the process ahead, but please don't underestimate the intensity of study that will be required from you if you want to achieve 3 A*s in such a short amount of time.
Do I have that option? Because if I do then I'll absolutely take it. I read somewhere that taking A2 alone will not give you A-level qualifications. It'd be nice if I had the option. It certainly beats the having to take two or three exams in one day. The school told me I might have to sit for two or three exams in one day if I take all of them at once.
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username5404246
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This is so unrealistic hehe
Sociology and Psychology are especially difficult to secure an A* in
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1st superstar
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(Original post by aconstanthamlet)
Ahhhh, the reason I asked is because a lot of students in the UK don't take AS exams anymore. We just sit the A2 exams, half of which covers the AS content. But if you're planning on taking the A2 exams anyway it would be worthless sitting the AS exams. Anyway, we've established that you're sitting three full A-Levels which is what matters!

I don't personally know what the practical exam is like for Biology. What I said in my previous post was based on advice that friends and family who took A-Level Biology have outlined. The mark scheme is very specific for Biology, so I'd say look at previous mark schemes and examiner comments (these can be found on the CIE website) to get a solid understanding of what terms they expect you to use and what style of response they want to see.

I'll also reiterate what Interea has already said: don't burn yourself out. Achieving 3 A*s is an ambitious feat for students who are studying the course over two years, let alone 8 months. It's great that you're excited about the process ahead, but please don't underestimate the intensity of study that will be required from you if you want to achieve 3 A*s in such a short amount of time.
The OP is doing IAL so need to sit AS exams same goes for Welsh and N.I students they still do modular exams so they need to sit the AS exams.
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aconstanthamlet
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(Original post by 1st superstar)
The OP is doing IAL so need to sit AS exams same goes for Welsh and N.I students they still do modular exams so they need to sit the AS exams.
(Original post by Taradis)
Do I have that option? Because if I do then I'll absolutely take it. I read somewhere that taking A2 alone will not give you A-level qualifications. It'd be nice if I had the option. It certainly beats the having to take two or three exams in one day. The school told me I might have to sit for two or three exams in one day if I take all of them at once.
Sorry for the misconception in my second post Taradis. As 1st superstar has said, you do need to sit the AS exams for your exam board. I didn't realize this. My mistake entirely. Thanks for pointing this out 1st superstar!
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1st superstar
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(Original post by aconstanthamlet)
Sorry for the misconception in my second post Taradis. As 1st superstar has said, you do need to sit the AS exams for your exam board. I didn't realize this. My mistake entirely. Thanks for pointing this out 1st superstar!
In England though you are right everything is based on the A2, final exam and/or coursework.
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Taradis
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(Original post by 1st superstar)
The OP is doing IAL so need to sit AS exams same goes for Welsh and N.I students they still do modular exams so they need to sit the AS exams
Sigh...
Thanks for pointing that out.
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Taradis
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(Original post by aconstanthamlet)
Sorry for the misconception in my second post Taradis. As 1st superstar has said, you do need to sit the AS exams for your exam board. I didn't realize this. My mistake entirely. Thanks for pointing this out 1st superstar!
It's quite alright. You only mentioned what you knew to be true.
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Taradis
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(Original post by anonemoose)
This is so unrealistic hehe
Sociology and Psychology are especially difficult to secure an A* in
Do elaborate please.
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ellasimmons24
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Hey! I achieved an A* in Psychology so hopefully I can help with that..

I did Edexcel btw!!

So the most useful things I did were:

1) I went through all the questions in the exam papers and made sure I knew what the mark breakdowns were and how many essay question marks there were. I would make sure I knew how much AO1, AO2 and AO3 there were for each command word, whether that be Describe, Discuss, Explain etc.
2) I would do every single past paper I could get hand of. Some of the questions from the papers in 2009 were still relevant because of the mark scheme answers.
3) I would copy mark scheme answers into my notes because it is what the examiners are looking for!!! I would memorise these points.
4) I would look at examiner reports. These are SUPERRRR useful because the examiner is literally writing comments and giving you an insight on what they are expecting.
5) I would practice answers in timed conditions. Psychology was super difficult to finish because of the timing but I managed to finish because in my practice answers, I got used to cutting out waffle.
6) Lastly, make sure you go over the content as often as possible. Also try to give in practice essays to someone e.g. your teacher.

For general advice for all the A Levels, just keep trying to mirror exam conditions as much as possible. Do the past papers and do them again after a few months. Do ALL of them. Memorise the answers and make sure you know the command word for all your subjects. PLEASE look at examiner reports.

You got this You can do it.
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Kerzen
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(Original post by Taradis)
I need at least A*AA. But My goal is A*A*A* because it might improve my chance of getting a scholarship. And that's totally a need.
Could you spread your studies over two years?

What kind of scholarship are you aiming for?
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Taradis
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(Original post by ellasimmons24)
Hey! I achieved an A* in Psychology so hopefully I can help with that..

I did Edexcel btw!!

So the most useful things I did were:

1) I went through all the questions in the exam papers and made sure I knew what the mark breakdowns were and how many essay question marks there were. I would make sure I knew how much AO1, AO2 and AO3 there were for each command word, whether that be Describe, Discuss, Explain etc.
2) I would do every single past paper I could get hand of. Some of the questions from the papers in 2009 were still relevant because of the mark scheme answers.
3) I would copy mark scheme answers into my notes because it is what the examiners are looking for!!! I would memorise these points.
4) I would look at examiner reports. These are SUPERRRR useful because the examiner is literally writing comments and giving you an insight on what they are expecting.
5) I would practice answers in timed conditions. Psychology was super difficult to finish because of the timing but I managed to finish because in my practice answers, I got used to cutting out waffle.
6) Lastly, make sure you go over the content as often as possible. Also try to give in practice essays to someone e.g. your teacher.

For general advice for all the A Levels, just keep trying to mirror exam conditions as much as possible. Do the past papers and do them again after a few months. Do ALL of them. Memorise the answers and make sure you know the command word for all your subjects. PLEASE look at examiner reports.

You got this You can do it.
Thank you so much for the tips and encouragement. I will make sure to incorporate all of that into my studies.
Unfortunately, I don't have any teachers but I'll think of something. So far I've been pulling everything I've needed on this journey out of magic hats
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Taradis
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(Original post by Kerzen)
Could you spread your studies over two years?

What kind of scholarship are you aiming for?
Technically I could yes but :

(Original post by Taradis)
I understand. But it's just something I have to do. I've delayed my education for long enough due to not feeling well. And now that I feel better I don't want to take it slow. I work better under pressure and being under pressure gives me more energy. I'm afraid that if I drag out the time before I can go to Uni further, I'd get really frustrated. But yes getting burned out is very much possible.
I would need a full scholarship or tuition fees at the very least if I am going to study anywhere outside of my country. Our currency exchange rate just doesn't match up. And tuition fees in the UK especially are just a headache to even think about. So it'd be quite impossible without a tuition fee waiver. I can probably find some other source outside of universities for living expenses and/or get a job if the courses are not too demanding. I'm afraid they probably will be though.
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