Ayy! So,, its already nearly the 7th and doom and gloom of January and winter will be creeping away from us, and before we know it, it will be spring! Ok, not going to wish my life away. But most of us are probably now past and over the excitement of new year and technically we should have all taken our Christmas trees down by now, therefore all there is to look forward to (apart from spring), is a brand new, long, stressful period of work. Whether that’s studying or like work work. Well I have had my “first day back” already; not as much of an event as it was back in primary school to be fair. But even so, I admittedly felt marginally optimistic when I first woke up, despite being before 7. However as soon as I had ventured as far as my locker this morning, I just really felt like I didn’t want to be there. Well, I’m alright now at least, now it has sunk in. Anyway what I am going to be saying about today, is how I am coping with my own A levels so far. So I shall be sharing my personal experience, with the hope of giving some of you, whether you’re studying for A levels or not, some helpful study tips. As lets face it, I am only in year 12 luckily, but if I don’t take this year seriously,, come year 13, I’m going to be a little bit screwed.
Anyway the tips are as follows:
1. Remember that everything counts
So it can be alright overlooking the A levels for a while, and trying to forget that there’s content that you’ve been taught which you don’t understand and that you are getting like 3 grades below your desired grade for university, however if that happens for too long, eventually we would be in a situation where it would be next to impossible in order to catch up. Then come the end of the course, you’ll either be faced with so much stress that it would be impossible to imagine, or that you couldn’t even hope to achieve what you initially wanted. Therefore I personally count each little test, or assessed piece of homework equally important. And generally, if there is something I don’t understand I will try to get it straight in my head. Now even though its not the most easy or convenient option at this moment in time, it is much better to be working on getting the best now rather than in however many months time. Now for instance, with the exam technique, I very often get that wrong, especially in economics. For example I do one piece on god knows what, productivity or something, and I understood most of the theory but come to the actual sheet- I must have got an E or something. She didn’t give me a grade but it was grim.. Therefore I would rather practise the technique properly now, listening for advice and following the written guidelines, rather than not worry about it for the time being. As with most things A level related, theey don’t happen overnight. So I would rather aim to gradually improve rather than staying the same then just hoping that all of a sudden I will get it. And it does feel like effort, changing the way you write, however realistically it wont take you much longer to do the work, and infact in the long rrun you will probably end up doing it quicker, being much more confident with how to lay it out. The same applies with end of unit tests, as revising at the time is obviously more effort than not, but I would MMUCH RATHER have a stronger understanding of each topic having previously revised, so come A levels, revising each topic shouldn’t be as overwhelming.
2. WORKING during my study periods
Oh my Lord. honestly coming into year 12 and deciding that I would work during all of my frees (apart from the occasional 5th period where I may choose to go home a little bit early), has probably been the best decision that I have made relating to education. So studying for 4 A levels leaves me with about 9 hours of free time at school, where I can either choose to work, or not. And if I didn’t work at al during these, I would be using up an extra 9 hours in my free time. Meaning I would either be staying up to ridiculous times some nights, or I would literally have barely and free time or time to relax. But instead I spend rather little time (currently) studying at home. Furthermore, for me, I find that I am better focused if I am studying at school, as there’s fewer distractions and knowing that I am at school, puts me in the correct mindset to just get on with things rather than spending god knows how long procrastionating. However I know some people find studying at home more beneficial, so maybe it would be better to go home during study periods, or come into school later if you have no periods first thing, if the school allows. Annoyingly it does not for me, because they always make you register, but I think it is possible to make arrangements if you live a long way for example.
3. Ask my teachers for help if there’s anything I’m not sure on
Ok, so this is more of a personal tip for you guys, rather than something I frequently do myself, unfortunately. However I usually find when I do ask for help, I find myself closer to understanding what has been taught, rather than if I don’t. However I know that it can sometimes be difficult to ask the teacher for help in class, even in a small class, due to fears of being laughed at eg (although it’s literally fine, nobody should make fun of anyone for not understanding at this stage, and if they do it is their problem as they seriously need to grow up). So instead of asking a teacher, you could ask other people in your class, and even if they do’t fully understand, sometimes just having that discussion can enable you to figure more things out between yourselves, and have a stronger understanding of the topic afterwards. Also you could ask older friends/siblings who have previously taken the subject for help, or even parents if they have. As sometimes being taught something in a different way, or just going over something, can really make the difference.
4. Having a few nice clothes and/or some items of funky stationery
So you may be thinking, how on earth could this possibly make any sort of difference to my results. And I agree, directly it makes no difference. However it’s motivation. For me, having a nice outfit to wear, can put me in a better mindset for the day, having that extra boost of confidence. And that confidence boost, will obviously put you into a better mindset about yourself so in turn you should give you motivation work related. Stationery can have that similar effect, as just picking out a funky pen, can just give you that boost of essential positivity needed to kickstart the piece of work.
Therefore I think that sometimes the little things really can count. And its good to look at these, rather than just worrying about the big picture constantly, or having no reason to do anything but hate every hour of the A level course.
5. Try my best to enjoy the subjects and lessons
So leading on from me thinking that it’s bad to hate everything regarding A level subjects, for gods sake, try your best to actually have an interest and possibly even get some enjoyment out of these subjects. Okay, so I guess it is a bit late to swap them about now, but hopefully you chose options that you’re interested in.
However I know I sometimes look at learning as more of a chore, than finding interesting stuff out and enjoying it. But then I remember, I have chosen these subjects as I was interested in them, so it’s important to get the best out of all four. So it is easier said than done, but I try to do this by firstly focusing any sort of further reading on the parts of the subjects that interest me most. So I know that all subtopics within the subject are equally important, but if I were to do some further reading, which ”m planning to do, I would most definitely do it on something that I find genuinely interesting, obviously relating to the subject. This would make me remember why I have chosen the subject, and would enable me to get the best out of the subject and would obviously mean that I gain an even greater understanding. Otherwise what is the point of reading up on a part of the subject that you find more dull, unless it is essential. It will just mean you will view the subject in a darker light. I also try to remember how the subject relates to the outer world. So I mainly do humanities, so it is rather easy, but even with something like science. It isn’t just a load of equations on a piece of paper, it’s equations relating to something really cool, probably dominant in the world we are living in- which I would have no understanding on what so ever! But even when I do physical geography, sometimes all this borderline science stuff baffles me, but then I remember that these processes all actually shape the physical world we are living in. I can literally be seen and is changing all the time, and that is pretty cool.
6. Making revision notes as I go (or at least trying my best to do so)
Yeah, so I know it’s a bit boring but I’m trying my best to do this. Lets say i’m kind of half way anyways. But I think it is important to keep up to date with them, and continuously make notes throughout sixth-form, not just when mocks then the real things are approaching. And that is because, come test I want to be able to have notes that make sense and which I can use, rather than having to panic, rush up some notes then barely have any time to revise afterwards. And although it may seem time consuming doing it at the moment, it is better to use a bit of your free time now, rather than waiting until say may half term and being unable to go out at all due to the overload of work facing you. Not to mention being extra tired when coming back to do them.
7 Don’t stress too much
So although its obviously important to work hard, and obviously stress during a levevs can’t really be avoided, it is also important not to get overstressed. That is part of the reason why I prefer to break down my work lo0ad, rather than leaving a large amount to do in rather little time. However even if that happens. What is the use in getting overly stressed out? You b
8. Look to the future for motivation but remember that “when there’s a will there’s a way”
So even though it is important to look ahead to the future and to set yourself goals, in order to retain motivation to work; as well as being able to see the big picture, rather than just feeling like you’re aimlessly, and tirelessly working, it’s simply impractical and unhealthy to take this too far. Therefore I think it is important to be aware that I’m not necessarily going to get the grades required to end up where I desire. Instead it is cool to have a few back up plans, and not necessarily have your “dream plan” set in stone, because circumstances can change, although it is still good to have a good idea on your first choice of what to do. Therefore I currently have a couple of short term back up plans, one being a university with slightly lower grade requirements for my current choice of course (which lets face it, it’s genuinely much more likely I will get these grades rather than the grades for the first choice),, an alternative choice of course that yet again has slightly lower grade requirements, and an apprentice. Yet if all that fails, i will decide to migrate to some failing seaside town and play music on the streets. So yeah, I think it is important to have these, so if something fails then it’s not the end of the world, as I have many things to “fall back on”. Plus it relieves a lot of the current stress, knowing that there’s more than 1 way of getting where I want to go to.
Also I don’t have my eyes set on one specific career, however I do have a pretty good idea of what I think that I would like to do, though I’m not really sure. The plus side of this, is that especially if a certain career requires certain grades, you won’t feel so baffled if you feel you can’t achieve these for one reason or another. Plus like I said, circumstances can change, so feeling comfortable with a range of options is better really.
Now finally, and most in my case most importantly, the worst thing that you can do is compare yourself to other people. Whether that is your grades, time spent revising or whatever. At this stage, it’s so important to accept that everyone is going to go down different paths, so to put yourself down due to what someone else gets is literally unnecessary. As what they get is totally irrelevant, to what you need and what you want to do. Furthermore, what’s even worse, is to literally compare your grades to someone else, to make yourself believe that you are not good enough. Now I was guilty as hell of this, back when I was studying for GCSEs, noticing the numerous amounts of people getting grades higher than my own, and then claiming that they had done “no work”. I actually felt awful at times because of this. But my grades turned out alright. But funnily enough, nowadays this kind of thing doesn’t bother me anywhere near as much. Something strange must have happened over the summer, making me finally realise that everyone is different, and it is better to be happy with yourself, whilst being happy and supportive of others, whether they get higher or lower grades. As we are all in the same boat at the end of the day. Nevertheless I still find myself occasionally having to stop myself from looking at somebody else’s test paper to see how their score compares with my own.
So before I leave this, one las thing I must stress is that in my strong ass opinion, all of us are equal ; whether that’s in talent, creativity or intelligence. And is most does not look the same on everyone. We are unique and that is what makes us so amazing. And nothing can measure this, certainly not grades. There’s so many other factors, which no one could begin to try to measure, that makes each and every one off us as amazing as one another.
Oh wow. So I didn’t expect this to finish quite in the way it did, but I’m glad that it did. It’s so important not to forget your self worth when in a stressful and competitive environment. Anyway these are my personal guidelines on how to get through this period of time. Now I hope that someone haas found this helpful; and for anyone doing A levels-
Good luck :))