The Student Room Group

your alevel journey

hi guys, I am currently in yr12 doing biology chemistry and psychology alevel (AQA) and I really really do hope to achieve high because I would love to pursue medicine in the future. I would really like to know your alevel journeys (regardless if you are currently doing medicine or not) as some motivation.
currently, I'm lacking hope as, though I am only at the start of alevels, I'm upset and stressed out by the fact that I'm not getting top grades at this instant when others in my class are.
I do work consistently - doing about 3/4 hours of my own work after school to make sure I understand my work. I also purchased tailored tutors so I shall see how that goes. I had a biology test before we broke up for the holidays and I am confident with that test however not so much with chemistry. there were some aspects which really did make me loose confidence.
so, please let me know your alevel journeys.
It gives me hope knowing that come students start off with a D grade and in the real yr13 exams, they get an A. :smile:
I’m currently in year 13 studying maths, further maths and chemistry, I did psychology last year too. A levels are by no means east, and you have to put the work in if you want to succeed in them. If you want to see your effort pay off then you have to put the work in from the start. Personally, in the beginning I didn’t take my studies seriously at all, but I bounced back around January of year 12 (It was quite hard catching up). So I would say, as soon as you find yourself not understanding a topic, ask questions, go to your teacher and do your best to actively understand then and there, or it will literally come back to bite your ass.

I find that motivation can be taught by self discipline. To be quite honest, even as a year 13 student I lack motivation and procrastinate quite a lot, however once you start to discipline yourself and set yourself a routine that includes studying and breaks, you’ll find yourself slowly getting used to the lifestyle.

With revision, it may be that you’re not doing as well as you’d like because your revision technique doesn’t work that well for you, I would say you’re at a good place where you can start to explore with different techniques, I personally quite like blurting and doing as many exam techniques as I can, but many people prefer flashcards (something that doesn’t quite work for me).

If you have any questions, I’m always up to answer them :smile:
Original post by PixiePresents
I’m currently in year 13 studying maths, further maths and chemistry, I did psychology last year too. A levels are by no means east, and you have to put the work in if you want to succeed in them. If you want to see your effort pay off then you have to put the work in from the start. Personally, in the beginning I didn’t take my studies seriously at all, but I bounced back around January of year 12 (It was quite hard catching up). So I would say, as soon as you find yourself not understanding a topic, ask questions, go to your teacher and do your best to actively understand then and there, or it will literally come back to bite your ass.

I find that motivation can be taught by self discipline. To be quite honest, even as a year 13 student I lack motivation and procrastinate quite a lot, however once you start to discipline yourself and set yourself a routine that includes studying and breaks, you’ll find yourself slowly getting used to the lifestyle.

With revision, it may be that you’re not doing as well as you’d like because your revision technique doesn’t work that well for you, I would say you’re at a good place where you can start to explore with different techniques, I personally quite like blurting and doing as many exam techniques as I can, but many people prefer flashcards (something that doesn’t quite work for me).

If you have any questions, I’m always up to answer them :smile:

hi, I'm glad for the both of us that we've realised that you have to work as you go along!
would you say that your grades have been improving?
like since the start of year 12 compared to your position now?

for GCSEs, I literally relied on flashcards, however like you, i am finding flashcards less useful as there is way too much content to put on flashcards. I do prefer blurting too! :smile:
Original post by harlz_chalamet
hi guys, I am currently in yr12 doing biology chemistry and psychology alevel (AQA) and I really really do hope to achieve high because I would love to pursue medicine in the future. I would really like to know your alevel journeys (regardless if you are currently doing medicine or not) as some motivation.
currently, I'm lacking hope as, though I am only at the start of alevels, I'm upset and stressed out by the fact that I'm not getting top grades at this instant when others in my class are.
I do work consistently - doing about 3/4 hours of my own work after school to make sure I understand my work. I also purchased tailored tutors so I shall see how that goes. I had a biology test before we broke up for the holidays and I am confident with that test however not so much with chemistry. there were some aspects which really did make me loose confidence.
so, please let me know your alevel journeys.
It gives me hope knowing that come students start off with a D grade and in the real yr13 exams, they get an A. :smile:

Note: I am in yr 13, A-levels with predicted grades: further maths, maths, physics, computer science, EPQ, A*s in all

Firstly, chill out 3/4 of work is quite a lot of school work to do every day AFTER SCHOOL, even for me (my school days are about 6.5 hours). Year 12 has just started, do not burn yourself out. I know you are worried about your A-levels, they do matter but they are not as important as you think for getting uni offers. The way I maintained solid grades is not by constantly studying, studying, studying the stuff i did in school. Thats a waste of time. I take very mathematical subjects but computer science is very memory focused like some of your subjects so I will use it as my point of reference. I would recommend NOT to review your notes you took at school on the same day. Wait a few days, let your brain forget the stuff. Then review the content again weeks after you learned it, then do it once again. This is the least time consuming way to memorize things. In each review session do not go at a slow pace as you will just switch off. In each study session try to study mutliple unrelated topics (switching topics every 45 mins to an hour). Start by looking at the topic and trying to write down as much info as possible about the topic on some scrap paper then actively read out loud whilst rewriting the content you have missed (using pictures as much as possible) ideally using inital notes you have taken on a topic or just your text book. you can through away these brain dump papers. This study technique is called Active Recall. Each study technique has its pros and cons but atleast this forces you to actively think about your content. If you are doing this already, try out different study techniques but make sure you are always trying recall info so you are actively engaging with your work instead of just note taking.

Do not take offense to this but your ability to learn new things may also be poor. This could be a by product of not exposing your self to new ideas regularly. To solve this just cut some of that study time down and read anything but a text book eg. the news or a classic like the great gatsby. Reading comprehension is crucial for aspiring med students as you have to sit pre-admission exams in yr 13 or the summer of yr 12 (which are beyond important). These test require a strong reading comprehsion and are just as if not more important than your grades on your application. Good news, by doing this, your ability to retain info and comprehend text should improve drastically if you religously read so your grades could go up.

Finally, the best way to improve your grades is to study when your not studying. For me and my friends who also have the same grades, we just surrounded ourselves with content that was somewhat related to, but not entirely to, our subjects. Eg. I watched some maths videos when I was just chilling, doing random things like eating. https://youtu.be/ltLUadnCyi0 <- this is an example. These types of videos extended my syllabus, yet are interesting, relaxing and do not feel like studying. I think the majority of people who do exceptional in A-levels are ones who love/like there subjects at treat it like a hobby, a passion even, rather than a chore or something they study. No notetaking, no stressing, just enjoy the content, have a think and do not worry about retaining all the info .You want to surround yourself with your subject, apply the concepts you learn to your arbitrary daily thoughts. I think this style of learning is one that I see with most high achieving students. They are free thinkers if I were to be dramatic. In general just push yourself beyond the syllabus as work you found hard in class becomes a piece of cake when you start exposing yourself to more complex ideas. This paragraph's subject is hard to sell to others and explain but trust me after a few weeks it just works. Have a go, if it doesn't work then just stop.

Good luck, hope this helps
Original post by harlz_chalamet
hi, I'm glad for the both of us that we've realised that you have to work as you go along!
would you say that your grades have been improving?
like since the start of year 12 compared to your position now?

for GCSEs, I literally relied on flashcards, however like you, i am finding flashcards less useful as there is way too much content to put on flashcards. I do prefer blurting too! :smile:


I’m on all A*s, but have been getting A’s/A*s consistently throughout the year. But I know many people who went from C/Ds to A’s, so it’s not impossible.
Hello there :smile:

I actually completed my A Levels this summer, and ended up with ABB in August. I decided to take a year out as I started feeling burnt out in Year 13 and as soon as I finished my exams, it took me a while to recover.

I know that my subjects were very different to yours (Spanish, Classics and Philosophy) but they were hard regardless. When people say that A Levels are hard they're definitely not lying. Year 12 was probably the worst year of my life, and in some ways I actually enjoyed Year 13 a lot more. It started off quite abruptly- I stayed at my secondary school for A Levels and so they expected us to do 4 AS Levels (which I still don't understand). I had originally wanted to do these A Levels:
1. English Literature
2. Spanish
3. History
4. Graphics
There was a massive timetabling issue and after trying out History at a nearby school, I decided to switch to Philosophy, a good six weeks into the school year. English Literature clashed with Graphics and Spanish clashed with History. At the time, I really hated my life and thought to myself "Why me?" but it really did end up being a blessing of some sorts. Until Year 12, I had never seriously considered what I wanted to do in the future- through Graphics I realised that a creative career wouldn't be something I'd thrive at but rather with languages. I was failing Philosophy from October until March- I kid you not I got a U on the first set of mocks in January. A lot of my success was thanks to my teachers, family, friends and ultimately myself. That U was a massive slap in the face and it forced me to drastically shift the way I saw my A Levels. Classics was something I had never studied before, but it turned into a subject I really grew to enjoy. Spanish A Level confirmed to me that languages is truly something I enjoy and am good at. It made me realise that it's something I'm genuinely passionate about and can spend hours watching videos on how to study languages and looking more into Spanish and Latin American literature.

Being compelled to consider other subjects is the main reason why I enjoyed A Levels so much. My classes were smaller and filled with amazing, intelligent people who knew how to both work hard and have a good time. I genuinely looked forward to going to them and I always had at least one or two people I could count on for help.

What I'm trying to say is when I first started A Levels, I sucked at it. I felt that everything was out of control and that everyone else was doing so much better than me. I know this sounds obvious but I can guarentee you that you're not alone. Everyone is struggling with something, whether it be not having "high enough" grades on tests, to poor self-esteem, to issues at home. If you continue to perservere and ask the right questions, I can assure you that you will only improve. Focus not on your classmates' progress compared to yours but how you've improved from today compared to yesterday. A Levels was an incredibly stressful time in my life but it's a time that I'll look back on fondly because compared to lower school, I really did feel like I had some fun.


Here's a grade progression for some inspo :smile:

Year 12 January mocks: CDDU
Year 12 March mocks: I don't actually know the grades because this was the year where we were getting teachers' predictions but if I had to guess (based on my marks) it would be the following:
BCCD
AS results: BCCC
Year 13 initial predictions: BBB
Year 13 November mocks: ABC
Year 13 March mocks: BCD (I have no idea what happened it, but it got better)
Final A Level results: ABB- and I got into my first choice wahay

This is starting to get a bit long but here are some quick fire things that helped me a lot:

1. Having a diary of my own really helped me keep track of homework that was due, upcoming tests, mock exams etc
2. I realised quite early on that revision timetables didn't really suit me- I didn't like the idea of studying a specific subject at a specific time and say if I miscalculated on what time I'm meant to start, I'd end up not studying at all. To-do lists really were my saviour
3. Instead of just writing "do Spanish homework" on my to-do list, I'd break it down to "complete this worksheet", "do a practice exam paper" and "make a draft for my independent research project". I'd force myself to complete 5-6 tasks in an afternoon after school which really helped
4. Completing your homework in your frees clears up space to revise when you get home
5. Making friends with similar goals with you can act as a huge source of motivation- knowing that someone close to you wants the same things as you can create some healthy competition to improve alongside them
6. Don't spend your frees chatting to people. I said what I said
7. Befriend your teachers. I had a lovely Spanish teacher in Year 12 who was supportive enough to gain the courage to defer my entry into university. Without her I would've gone into uni and perhaps felt like I rushed things.

I hope this helped. Best of luck with everything <3
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by harlz_chalamet
hi, I'm glad for the both of us that we've realised that you have to work as you go along!
would you say that your grades have been improving?
like since the start of year 12 compared to your position now?

for GCSEs, I literally relied on flashcards, however like you, i am finding flashcards less useful as there is way too much content to put on flashcards. I do prefer blurting too! :smile:


I found flashcards rather helpful, but to improve I needed to combine this method with other things, such as practice questions, essay plans and blurting!

When I was revising for my final exams, I'd choose a topic I really hated, and using the spec would make a mindmap for it, using the spec points as prompts. I'd give myself 10-15 minutes to write down everything I could remember and then would fill in the blanks using my textbook, class notes and flashcards. After spending about half an hour, just by looking at my now full piece of paper, if I really had a lot of gaps, I'd start from the beginning.
Original post by harlz_chalamet
hi guys, I am currently in yr12 doing biology chemistry and psychology alevel (AQA) and I really really do hope to achieve high because I would love to pursue medicine in the future. I would really like to know your alevel journeys (regardless if you are currently doing medicine or not) as some motivation.
currently, I'm lacking hope as, though I am only at the start of alevels, I'm upset and stressed out by the fact that I'm not getting top grades at this instant when others in my class are.
I do work consistently - doing about 3/4 hours of my own work after school to make sure I understand my work. I also purchased tailored tutors so I shall see how that goes. I had a biology test before we broke up for the holidays and I am confident with that test however not so much with chemistry. there were some aspects which really did make me loose confidence.
so, please let me know your alevel journeys.
It gives me hope knowing that come students start off with a D grade and in the real yr13 exams, they get an A. :smile:

Heya!
I did bio and chem as well and it was a tough journey! The most useful advice I ever had was to do topics 1 by 1 and practice questions specific to the topic before moving on. I would specifically do questions on chapter 1 (without mark scheme), mark myself, see WHY I have lost marks on specific questions or have my teacher explain it to me before attempting to do more questions. It's important to understand why you have lost the marks and how you can get them next time. It's also important to understand what the questions ask and need for an answer. If it helps, Study Mind offers free past papers and revision notes by topic.

I hope this helps!
Milena G.
UCL PFE
Study Mind
Reply 8
Original post by harlz_chalamet
hi guys, I am currently in yr12 doing biology chemistry and psychology alevel (AQA) and I really really do hope to achieve high because I would love to pursue medicine in the future. I would really like to know your alevel journeys (regardless if you are currently doing medicine or not) as some motivation.
currently, I'm lacking hope as, though I am only at the start of alevels, I'm upset and stressed out by the fact that I'm not getting top grades at this instant when others in my class are.
I do work consistently - doing about 3/4 hours of my own work after school to make sure I understand my work. I also purchased tailored tutors so I shall see how that goes. I had a biology test before we broke up for the holidays and I am confident with that test however not so much with chemistry. there were some aspects which really did make me loose confidence.
so, please let me know your alevel journeys.
It gives me hope knowing that come students start off with a D grade and in the real yr13 exams, they get an A. :smile:


I'm currently in Year 13 studying Bio Chem Psych. Sent my medicine application through about a month ago. Psychology was a very new subject for me so it took time before i figured out how to get good at it. Bio and Chem were HUGE step ups from GCSEs and I'd gotten 9s in both and still ended up struggling at the start of Year 12. Then I realised it's all about practising the question types and understanding the mark schemes. It seems impossible to do well at first, but once you figure out what the examiners are looking for, it gets a lot nicer. Ended up being predicted A*A*A
Original post by bambam21566
Note: I am in yr 13, A-levels with predicted grades: further maths, maths, physics, computer science, EPQ, A*s in all

Firstly, chill out 3/4 of work is quite a lot of school work to do every day AFTER SCHOOL, even for me (my school days are about 6.5 hours). Year 12 has just started, do not burn yourself out. I know you are worried about your A-levels, they do matter but they are not as important as you think for getting uni offers. The way I maintained solid grades is not by constantly studying, studying, studying the stuff i did in school. Thats a waste of time. I take very mathematical subjects but computer science is very memory focused like some of your subjects so I will use it as my point of reference. I would recommend NOT to review your notes you took at school on the same day. Wait a few days, let your brain forget the stuff. Then review the content again weeks after you learned it, then do it once again. This is the least time consuming way to memorize things. In each review session do not go at a slow pace as you will just switch off. In each study session try to study mutliple unrelated topics (switching topics every 45 mins to an hour). Start by looking at the topic and trying to write down as much info as possible about the topic on some scrap paper then actively read out loud whilst rewriting the content you have missed (using pictures as much as possible) ideally using inital notes you have taken on a topic or just your text book. you can through away these brain dump papers. This study technique is called Active Recall. Each study technique has its pros and cons but atleast this forces you to actively think about your content. If you are doing this already, try out different study techniques but make sure you are always trying recall info so you are actively engaging with your work instead of just note taking.

Do not take offense to this but your ability to learn new things may also be poor. This could be a by product of not exposing your self to new ideas regularly. To solve this just cut some of that study time down and read anything but a text book eg. the news or a classic like the great gatsby. Reading comprehension is crucial for aspiring med students as you have to sit pre-admission exams in yr 13 or the summer of yr 12 (which are beyond important). These test require a strong reading comprehsion and are just as if not more important than your grades on your application. Good news, by doing this, your ability to retain info and comprehend text should improve drastically if you religously read so your grades could go up.

Finally, the best way to improve your grades is to study when your not studying. For me and my friends who also have the same grades, we just surrounded ourselves with content that was somewhat related to, but not entirely to, our subjects. Eg. I watched some maths videos when I was just chilling, doing random things like eating. https://youtu.be/ltLUadnCyi0 <- this is an example. These types of videos extended my syllabus, yet are interesting, relaxing and do not feel like studying. I think the majority of people who do exceptional in A-levels are ones who love/like there subjects at treat it like a hobby, a passion even, rather than a chore or something they study. No notetaking, no stressing, just enjoy the content, have a think and do not worry about retaining all the info .You want to surround yourself with your subject, apply the concepts you learn to your arbitrary daily thoughts. I think this style of learning is one that I see with most high achieving students. They are free thinkers if I were to be dramatic. In general just push yourself beyond the syllabus as work you found hard in class becomes a piece of cake when you start exposing yourself to more complex ideas. This paragraph's subject is hard to sell to others and explain but trust me after a few weeks it just works. Have a go, if it doesn't work then just stop.

Good luck, hope this helps

I’m currently in year 12 doing these exact a levels just not the epq. Do you have any subject specific advice in terms of revising content? I’m doing ocr for physics and computer science and edexcel for both maths. I’m predicted A’s in all and they seem to be going fine at the moment. Are there any online resources that you use for computer science as there isn’t nearly as much as physics?
Original post by Izzy-06
I’m currently in year 12 doing these exact a levels just not the epq. Do you have any subject specific advice in terms of revising content? I’m doing ocr for physics and computer science and edexcel for both maths. I’m predicted A’s in all and they seem to be going fine at the moment. Are there any online resources that you use for computer science as there isn’t nearly as much as physics?

Computer science, idk I did CIE so I had plenty of past papers. The programming is relatively easy, but if you wanna revise that just go on youtube a type in "tutorial on x", x being a data structure like linked lists. That will be sufficient. For Theory, use active recall. Use youtube if your not sure wat active recall is. For theory past papers and memorizing fax is pretty much all you can do, don't stress about cs to much unis dont rly care much for it and it will be ur easiest subject after normal maths. If you wanna get good at programming for real use "leetcode", the problems on there are much much much harder than the real exams so if you get good ur interviews and tests are gonna go much better. Overall, for computer science you just have to make do with a bunch of non A-level labeled resources and ur text book.

Physics: in year 12 you mainly focus on mechanics, electricity and waves. Getting good at mechanics is imperative as it appears everywhere in yr 13. My advise, go to "math genie" a website for A-level maths, just self study all the A-level mechanics, then your mechanics in yr 12 and foundations for yr13 are set. For Electricity and Waves just use this https://www.youtube.com/c/ScienceShorts for note taking vids then just do AS past papers (after each question mark it). Don't study the AS past papers too early save some for your uni grade predicition exams at the end of the yr.

Maths...
Normal maths content, "Math genie" and "madasmaths" (questions are not official from edexcel exam board but the questions are the same style except MUCH harder at times so rly good practice) are the places to go
Further maths, be careful don't revise too much for it early on, save past papers just before big exams not small unit test, questions in ur text books are sufficient for unit tests
Further maths?
Original post by harlz_chalamet
hi guys, I am currently in yr12 doing biology chemistry and psychology alevel (AQA) and I really really do hope to achieve high because I would love to pursue medicine in the future. I would really like to know your alevel journeys (regardless if you are currently doing medicine or not) as some motivation.
currently, I'm lacking hope as, though I am only at the start of alevels, I'm upset and stressed out by the fact that I'm not getting top grades at this instant when others in my class are.
I do work consistently - doing about 3/4 hours of my own work after school to make sure I understand my work. I also purchased tailored tutors so I shall see how that goes. I had a biology test before we broke up for the holidays and I am confident with that test however not so much with chemistry. there were some aspects which really did make me loose confidence.
so, please let me know your alevel journeys.
It gives me hope knowing that come students start off with a D grade and in the real yr13 exams, they get an A. :smile:

hello im guessing you're in y13 now! i also do aqa psych - how are u finding it? :smile:
Original post by emm4nuella
hello im guessing you're in y13 now! i also do aqa psych - how are u finding it? :smile:


WOW I forgot about this thread lmaooo
I ended up dropping psych for maths during Feb/March this year because I had a change of aspiration! I no longer want to do medicine anymore, but chemistry instead. It’s mad how things were for me 11 months ago haha
Original post by harlz_chalamet
WOW I forgot about this thread lmaooo
I ended up dropping psych for maths during Feb/March this year because I had a change of aspiration! I no longer want to do medicine anymore, but chemistry instead. It’s mad how things were for me 11 months ago haha

haha :biggrin:! i also had a change of aspiration halfway through the year - happens to the best of us!
Original post by emm4nuella
haha :biggrin:! i also had a change of aspiration halfway through the year - happens to the best of us!

hope it all goes well for you. how are you finding psych ?
Original post by harlz_chalamet
hope it all goes well for you. how are you finding psych ?

thank you - psych is not that bad atm :smile:

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