How I got A*AA in my A-levels.
First of all this is for help for those of you who might be sitting their exams later this year, either that or you’re a smidgen nosey. I’m a perfectionist and it annoys me that I didn’t get perfect results. The thing to realise is that you might never be happy with what you get.
At A-Level I studied English Language, Psychology and Photography. I believe that I only got an A* in English Language by a few UMS. With psychology I was only a few UMS short of an A*, I had 90s in everything except my last exam – that rogue B plagues me to this day. I was close with photography, only missing out by one raw point (which equated to 5 UMS; it just sounds more dramatic when I put it in terms of raw points).
So, how did I do this?
I listened to my teachers
This may sound like a stupid point. However, a lot of people in my year complained about our English teacher. She was ‘over the top’ to say the least. Yet if you listened to her, and made notes, she would make sense. She had a strange teaching style but she had been at the college for many years – I put my trust into her and it paid off. In fact, I didn’t really revise for my English exam. One girl revised all the dates for language change but she still didn’t get an A*. You need to listen to the teacher, and know what to pluck bits out of a text, especially when it comes to a timed essay.
I made a revision time table
Well, sort of. I knew that I had around 1 week in between psychology papers, so I would blast ‘em in that week. By blast I mean I put a lot of time and effort into revising. This would be where my downfall was in psychology. If I had started to revise earlier, and hadn’t left it to the last minute, that 2nd A* might have been mine.
I revised by parrot fashioning
This worked extremely well with psychology. I rewrote and rewrote my bullet points for the whole of the psychology syllabus until I knew them off by heart. A warning though, this takes a lot of time. If you’re thinking of doing this then you need to schedule yourself really well!
I looked at previous student’s exam papers
I am not sure if every teacher at A-Level does this. My lovely English teacher, Angela, photocopied dozens of previous student’s exam papers. This was my way of revising for the language exam. It is good to see where others are picking up points and terminology that examiners like. The markers will often leave a note on the end of the paper saying how they could have done better. My advice, USE IT!
I did figure out my learning style
At least I think I did… (It’s memorising it all, if you haven’t guessed that by now). I came across my learning style by chance, when a teacher made a suggestion for it in the October of 1st year. I tried it, and I got an A in that mock. I was mediocre at best at GCSE; I was proud of that mock A.
I put a lot of work, time and effort in
For weeks I only left the house for exams, to see my boyfriend for a couple hours at a time and to do my Saturday job. On the other days I would begin working at 8. I would have a short break for lunch and then would resume work straight after. My mum would come in at around 5 30 and would make me tea; I would continue to revise. I would work up until around 9, sometimes 10 at night. Then repeat. I somehow muscled up the will power to do this. This, I don’t know why, works for me. I wish I could be organised, and could relax in periods before exams, but no, I leave it until the last minute. Every time I do it I tell myself that I will do something different, yet in January I was in the same routine again. I’m waiting on the results of an essay that I wrote in around 2 days (research and all), let’s pray I get the 1st I so dearly want.
What I never did (that people and websites recommend):
- Looked at past exam papers: quite frankly, I did not have time – I would also rather be reading my revision cards over and over.
- Collaborated with classmates: rather sad, but I didn’t have any friends at college by the time A-levels came around. Just my boyfriend, who was sitting physics and maths, extremely different to me.
- Exercise Regularly: I am not going to lie, for my AS I still did a lot of exercise. I began the squat challenge the day before my English exam, it was a bad move. But when it came to A2, I did not have time. Cups of tea would go cold as I scribbled out another block remembered paragraph.
- Mixing the way I was revising up: By the end of A-Levels all I knew was how to memorise. I am surprised that 2 and ½ years later I still remember most of it. It normally seeps out of your mind.
- Testing myself with flash cards: I revised off them, and re wrote my notes but I never got anybody to test me. I’m not going to repeat it aloud in exams, so I never saw the point.
I hope that you enjoyed reading this post! I didn’t enjoy reminiscing the times I spent stuck at my dining room table!