When to Start Revising for A levels

A levels are a big step up from GCSEs. Everyone may think they already know how to revise but the question of when to start revising for A levels remains. A mountain of knowledge compared to previous exams, anyone wanting to do their best in their A levels will want to give themselves plenty of time to avoid panic and stress come exam time.


When to Start Revising for A levels

The decision of when to start revising properly depends on two factors:

“What level are you at now?”
“What grades do you want to get?

If you struggled with your GCSEs or A level mocks and want to achieve A* and A then clearly you need to prepare months in advance. This allows you to analyse your own strengths and weaknesses, start revision and then repeat the process until you have a solid grounding in all areas.

Those of you starting from a stronger standpoint will still have plenty of work to do if you want to have some guarantee of getting the best grades you can. Wider reading will stabilise what you know and make sure you don’t make avoidable mistakes. This includes reading the examiners’ reports which are released each year. You can know the whole syllabus but examiners’ reports highlight widespread misunderstandings and omissions. These marks will be easy to obtain once you know about these common pitfalls.


Is it May already?

Time slips by faster than you realise. The optimal way to learn is to not have a revision period at all! Throughout the year you should be reviewing your work and feedback from teachers. This lets you isolate problems early on and give them the proper attention you require.

Not many of us are able to keep this level of dedication and work going however. Family life, friends, holidays and more keep us busy and distracted over the course of the academic year. For many of you, the earliest subjects in the exam timetable will come around very quickly. If you have exams in May then revising any later than the beginning of April is asking for stress and worry.


Scraping a Pass

There is no such thing as revising too early. At the very worst you will get bored of reading the same material over and over again because you know it off by heart. With all the potential hiccups and distractions that life can bring however this is unlikely to happen if you start revising even two months before your exams start.

If you find yourself bored but the information isn’t sticking in your head then try other ways of learning. Lots of people prefer to use colour coded stickers and highlighters to keep everything organised and simplified. Others make mind maps or flash cards to try and leverage visual memory to the learning process.

Don’t think that you need some fancy revision process or ritual to make the grade. While colours, highlighters and cards are great for some, for others these are a waste of time and a distraction. You may find that simply reading and rereading the subject material is the fastest and most efficient way of making sure that all the relevant facts and figures stay in your head.


Reviewing A level past papers

Six weeks is really when to start revising for A levels as a minimum. If you feel that you are running out of time then the last hope for fast learning is going over any available A level past papers. Sitting these as mock tests will give you an important psychological boost as the exam dates draw near. Every mark you earn reassures you that  revision has worked and every mark lost directs the next step in your learning.

While doing past papers will not give you a well rounded understanding of your subjects if used in isolation they do highlight common themes that examiners like to pick. Past papers give you insight into how exam boards want you to apply all the knowledge that you have just accumulated. For some subjects fact recall is the name of the game. But for others, being able to think about and critique the subject is just as important.


If in doubt, don’t waste time

In our next post we will discuss time-wasting A level revision techniques. Although we all know to start revising early even the best of us can leave it too late. If you are running out of time the stress of the situation can lead to bad or lazy revision techniques. These will only make your situation worse and cause increased stress at exam time. Read over our list and make sure you are not making any of these common mistakes.


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