Exam Advice from an A-Level Student

Finally, my easter holidays have arrived. I’m excited to relax, see friends, celebrate my birthday and others’ and enjoy living a bit more of a normal life than the one I live at my boarding school. However, this holiday also means I have one more holiday until my a-levels. Scary stuff.

So, despite getting to enjoy special occasions over the next 4 weeks, I also have a lot of revision to do. Having suffered through GCSEs – especially science and maths, my absolute worse subjects – and having done well, I feel relatively prepared and confident in the way I revise. I know a lot of people get highly stressed because of exams, and I understand that completely. For some people, the stress helps them stay motivated to keep working and revising. I however prefer to take a more relaxed approach (although of course, being a normal human, I still get stressed and overwhelmed by the pressure and uncertainty of exams)

I decided to compile some exam and revision tips, to help anyone doing any sort of exams, whether its a music or drama grade exam, an internal school progress test or a big scary public exam on which your life depends (it really doesn’t, promise.)

  1. Pace yourself. Think of it as a marathon, not a sprint. If you run the fastest you’ve ever run for the first 500m, you’ll be exhausted and possibly unable to continue running. Many of my friends have started revising a lot already, which is great, well done them. But this doesn’t work for everyone. I myself lose motivation on a regular basis and so I’ve been trying to do little bits of revision here and there, such as reading a chapter of one of my set texts for English or Latin, or skimming through my Psychology text book to refresh my memory on topics I haven’t looked at it a while. But I’m no where near starting properly. You don’t need to rush. You’ve got plenty of time.
  2. Don’t compare yourself to others.  Everyone works differently. One of my friends is incredibly hard-working and works throughout her free time and it doesn’t faze her. I find it hard to do extra work after a full day of lessons and prep, so I prefer to settle down in my bed, watch some Netflix or read. Find what works for you. (This being said, try not to procrastinate on Netflix too much, this doesn’t help anyone. Use your phone or computer or books as a break or reward throughout your work.)
  3. You don’t need to work every second of the day. Nobody is working every second of the day. I can guarantee you’ll have one of those friends who tells you they’re going to do 8 hours of revision everyday in the holidays. They’re lying whether they know it or not.  They’ll be sat rearranging their pens for about 10% of their ‘revision’ time, another 10% staring out the window and another 10% re-reading things because they weren’t concentrating. This goes with the point above, do what works for you, and make whatever time you do spend revising actually productive. I’m aiming for 3-4 hours a day, which is the same I did during GCSE’s and I found I worked productively during my 45-60 minutes sessions, and also didn’t feel overwhelmed or drained at the end of the day.
  4. TAKE BREAKS. I cannot stress this enough. Your brain cannot concentrate for more than 30-60 minutes, so if you’re not giving yourself breaks, you’re not being productive. Don’t feel guilty for watching tv or talking to friends or doing any other activity for half an hour. You need to. This leads on to my next tip.
  5. Do not take your phone into the room you’re revising in. This room should be a no-phone zone. The amount of times I’ve received snapchats from my friends whilst they’re sat at their desks baffles me. It never occurs to me to bring my phone into that room at that time. Your phone can wait next door on silent for an hour. Trust me.
  6. Keep going. Exam periods are horribly long but in hindsight they’re actually quite fun times. Looking back at my GCSEs, me and my friends spent so much of our time outside in the lovely sunshine, playing cards or reading and having a really great time. It’ll be more than worth it once they’re done, and they are only a small fraction of your life. Don’t let them control your life.

Remember to be pleased with yourself and proud of all your hard work. If you didn’t get what you were aiming for its not the end of the world. Promise.

Huge good luck to everyone sitting exams in summer. You can all do it.

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