A-Levels are super tough, but thorough revision and understanding are key to nailing your exams! Here is a six step guide to revising a topic to boost your chances of exam success.
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In order to revise a topic properly, you need to know what you need to learn. Do this by looking at the exam specification and working out which objectives correspond to the topic you are revising.
Your teachers might give you a list of learning objectives or you can use textbooks too. Work out what is covered in each topic, so that you can revise it all in time for the exam.
Go through your objectives for the topic and be honest with yourself about how well you can cover each one from memory alone. This can be a useful activity to do with a friend as it is easier for someone else to be objective about how much you know.
If you think you are confident with a topic, highlight it in green. If you feel you know little, highlight it in red. If you are somewhere in between, go for orange. This ‘traffic light’ system is a good way to organise what you need to know in such a way that you can prioritise your weak areas and improve on them in time.
Make sure you know and have learnt the key content from the topic. It could be a good idea to make a list of the key points or watch a revision video on YouTube. There are plenty of great channel that make short videos on A-Level topics.
Start with the areas of the topics you have coded ‘red’. We all have a tendency to go over areas we are strongest at and feel more confident with but often we don’t need to spend as much time on them. Ruthlessly attack your weaknesses by working on the areas of knowledge you’re lacking first. It is important to revise smart at A-Level; you do not have unlimited time, so work on what needs the most work to maximise your time.
Rather than just writing down the key points, try to turn each one into a question. You could attempt to write them in the style of the actual exam questions if you can, not only writing one mark recall questions, but also ‘describe’ and ‘explain’ questions that are worth multiple marks. Although this takes longer and requires more effort than simply listing the key points, it is definitely worth-while. It is a valuable revision resource and it requires you to properly understand the information.
The best way of revising is not just simply reading through your notes. To really get the knowledge into your head you need to practise actively recalling it, as this is what is required of you in the exam.
You can use questions in your textbook or reuse questions from your end of topic tests. If you have been making questions out of your key points, then use these! Make sure you clarify anything you get wrong using the information in your textbook, notes, or a helpful YouTube video.
There are many different ways to test yourself. You could make flashcards with a question on one side of the card and the answer on the reverse. This is a quick, easy, and portable method. Just be careful not to spend too long making the flashcards; practising the information on them is the important bit! There are also lots of flashcard apps, which are really easy to use and some of them even allow you to make use of other people’s decks if you would rather not spend the time making your own.
The most valuable resource you have at your disposal is past papers. These should be the same style and the same level of content difficulty you will face in your actual exam. This is the best test of your knowledge and your ability to apply it.
Do as many past papers as you can to help you learn what the mark scheme is looking for, as sometimes they can be very specific. Make sure to mark your papers and go over what you got wrong, and ask your teacher for help if you are unsure of how to improve.
If you have limited past papers for your specification, especially if it is new, past papers from the specification before it are often still a great way to practise and use as a valuable resource.
Revision can get really boring but teaming up with your friends to study can make it much more fun! Get together with your classmates and test each other on different areas of topics you may be struggling with. This can reduce your workload, as teaching a topic reinforces your own knowledge.
If teaching a topic works for you, you could also teach a willing family member or a friend who doesn’t study your subject. This can be really helpful as they will often ask questions or need more explanation as someone who is relatively new to the topic, and this will really test your knowledge.
This six step method will help you to thoroughly revise an A-Level topic! This is an especially good method for science subjects where understanding and applying your knowledge is the key to success.
To make sure your revision is truly effective and you are able to perform to the best of your ability, make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating well, and getting plenty of fresh air and exercise.
Words: Safiya Zaloum
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