So you procrastinated and now your A-Level’s are in a month. Here is what to do:
Were you were too wrapped up in the middle of a pandemic and did not really have the time to start acknowledging one of the most important exams in your student life (I know, crazy)? Or are you just a serial procrastinator who found Covid-19 as just another excuse to add to the list? Regardless, it is still not too late!
Any exam involves the 3 P’s : Prioritising, Planning and Preparation.
Stage 1: Prioritising
Ask yourself a few questions in order to learn what to prioritise.
- What is my University offer? Does it require a specific grade in a specific subject or does it require an overall subject grade?
- Which subjects (or subject) did I pay attention towards and what subjects do I not know about at all?
- Which subject requires lots of practice and which one requires lots of memorising?
Once you answer these questions you will know which subjects require more of your time and energy in the short period of preparation that you have allowed yourself.
For instance if your subjects are Psychology, Sociology and Math and your firm choice has offered you an AAB, while your insurance choice has offered you an ABB with an A in Psychology your priority list would look a bit like this.
- Math- requires more practice and less memorisation
- Sociology- requires more memorisation
Stage 2- Planning
Now that you are aware of what is more important it is time to start planning.
Your planning involves 3 steps:
Step 1- Take out the syllabus for each subject and note down all the key chapters you need to cover. I suggest using a website like Trello to organise your subjects according to the chapters you have completed and still need to complete. You can even just use notes on your phone for more accessibility without wifi.
Step 2- Take out all the books, notes and lectures you have for each subject and toss two out of three resources out. Since there is no time you need to choose between depth or breadth of a subject and as A-Level’s are quite extensive breadth is always better at short notice. (With a few practice exams you can still get up to par). I suggest sticking to just the textbook for the subject.
Now decide whether your learning/practicing medium will be your laptop or your good old pen and paper. If you choose pen and paper, make sure you have physical copies of your textbooks and at least 5 different past papers printed out. If you choose your laptop, download free or paid PDF’s of your textbooks and past papers. Check out PDF drive for free versions of your textbooks.
Step 3- Now is when you need to divide your time and plan every single day of the entire month. I like to use Notion for my notes and planning. (Insider’s tip: do not pay for anything, just sign up with a school ‘edu’ email and get all of Notion for free.) I like to list out everything according to weeks and create weekly planners. Another tip I like to follow here is to set more than traditional realistic goals for the entire week. As we have been conditioned to set realistic goals we tend to go easy on ourselves and then celebrate completing a task in a week which could have been done in a day (re: Parkinson’s Law: Work expands to fill the time allotted). Set big goals but break them into sizeable chunks; for example if you have to complete a chapter, break that into reading, annotating, notes and questions.
Stage 3- Preparation
This is the most crucial and time consuming stage. While stage 1 and 2 should never take more than one full day, stage 3 stretches out to the entirety of your exam period. Follow your schedule honestly and completely, recognising the fact that you are the only one achieving something from your preparation and thus are the only one accountable for it. Integrity and stamina is of utmost importance here. I like to again break preparation up into weeks. Since there are four weeks to go to your first exam, alternate one fast paced week and one comparatively slower week to avoid burnout and exhaustion. This could mean doing 10–12 hours a day for one week and 6–8 for the next.
Go according to Paper or Modules of your exam and complete the entire preparation of one paper/module followed by marked and timed past papers. Take note of every question that has been answered incorrectly by quickly snapping two pictures: one of the question and one of your mistake which has been corrected. These pictures then should not be forgotten and instead revised every night before you sleep as repetition will help in avoiding the same mistake in the real exam!
Do not forget to get a good amount of sleep, exercise and nutrition in with all the revision that you attempt to do. Good luck!