Anyone who has to take their A Levels understands that this is no easy task. It is also easy to get stressed, frustrated, and down on yourself when it comes to doing well on their A Levels, let alone surviving them at all. But if you happen to feel this way you’re not alone. To everyone out there in the same position as I was this time last year, here are a few tips that helped me along through what was probably the hardest year of my life which made it go as smoothly and as quickly as possible as I could have imagined. Keep reading for 7 ways to ace your a levels and some helpful insight from someone who’s been there before you!
My unfortunate experiences with my A Levels.
If someone had told me last year that I would have achieved everything I’d set myself to achieve almost three years ago now and I would be back on the road to achieving my goals, I would not have believed them because things were so different then. And not in a good way.
For the average person, doing your A-levels should only take two years and if following the traditional academic route, university would follow after. Mirroring other aspects in my life, I found my journey to be nothing short of complicated and atypical; after being hospitalized and missing out on writing my A2 level exams, I found myself having to go back to my sixth form to resit the whole year again.
Going back to the same sixth form and having to face the same competitive and demanding environment, the same teachers, and a new, younger year group was very daunting at the time. With the knowledge that my fellow peers were off to start a new chapter in their lives and watching all of them make ample progress, whilst I was still stuck in the same position as I was in the year before, I felt like a complete failure. I remember going back at the beginning of September and feeling like it was the end for me, but little did I know it was just the beginning.
7 Ways to Ace Your A Levels
1. Pull yourself together.
No amount of moping around and feeling sorry for yourself will make things better. While you are out hunting for a pity party the world around does not stop, time is moving and it gets that much closer to your exams.
You need to find the courage and belief within yourself that you are good enough and understand that the responsibility of achieving what you want lies solely in your hands. This can only happen if you prepare yourself mentally and physically for the challenges that lie ahead.
2. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else.
You are running your own race; probably the hardest tip to apply but it’s true! Focusing on what your peers are doing will not bring you any closer to your goals so you literally have to put your head down and focus on yourself and focus on achieving your set targets.
It doesn’t matter what everyone else, friends or family, is saying about you or even what they think of you because they don’t know your story or even your potential. You are the only one that needs to believe in yourself. Use this as your fuel to reach your goals and get the A-levels grades you want.
As you would have discovered, A-levels are very different from GCSEs and require a lot of hard work and attention. This means you have no time to slack. Make sure you stay on top of deadlines; start revising from day one. It may seem excessive but it will save you a lot of time and energy in the long run.
Make sure you know your syllabus for each of you’re a-level subjects thoroughly, read your textbooks and use them alongside other sources such as youtube videos to make detailed notes. Condense these into to flashcards or posters for revision just before exams, make sure you do as many past paper questions as you can and most importantly, read your examiner reports!
This may seem like a lot of effort, but it will get you the grades. Of course, everyone works differently, so make sure you find revision and study methods that work for you and fast, so that you can practice these throughout the year in order to get your grades.
4. Don’t be afraid to socialise.
This will seem weird after just telling you to focus, but literally doing A-levels is about finding the right work-life balance, so that you don’t get burnt out. Being with a new year (younger) cohort of students who have nothing but questions about you, will seem very daunting as mentioned before; but once you put yourself out there and you successfully integrate yourself in this new year group, you’ll find there is practically no difference.
In fact, I met more genuine people and made some of my best friends in my third year of A-levels than I did with my previous year and it felt good to use the word friend among these people and actually mean it. Don’t be afraid to open up to these people, you don’t have to tell them anything you don’t want them to know, but being more open will save you a lot more time and questions.
It’s far easier to get through the year with a support network of friends and classmates than doing it alone.
5. Your teachers are there to help you, use them.
If there is anyone who would understand what you’re going through, and I mean literally understand, believe it or not it would be your teachers. You would not have been the first person to have had to resit the year so they have seen many students before you go through the same experience as you; therefore, they know how hard it is.
They will give so much more of their time and support and you need to use this to your advantage and ask questions! ALWAYS ASK QUESTIONS! I was that girl in class that always asked; it got to the point teachers would anticipate my questions and answer them before I even got the chance to ask them.
This is the only way you can gain clarity in your work and actually start to enjoy your A-levels, by engaging with the material.
6. Don’t let yourself get lazy.
There will be times, especially in the winter, where you just want all of it to end. You will feel fatigued all the time and you just want to watch TV after a long day filled with lessons- but do not fall into this trap. Be consistent and work hard throughout the year.
Use your free periods wisely to reread material you didn’t understand or read ahead for the next lesson. Even though you may have notes from the year before, there are new things your teachers may have added to the notes this year which will be extremely handy, so add these to your current notes, or better yet- make new ones.
Don’t get into the habit of assuming that you already know the content, because you will forget a lot of things, so make sure you go through the year as if it’s the first time you’re doing your last year of A-levels.
7. Adopt a positive mindset.
This goes hand in hand with the first tip. Do not expect to see changes or results in your work if you do not adopt a positive mindset this year. Yes, it will be hard but you’ve already taken the brave step of going back to sixth form to complete your A-levels, not many people would have or can do that.
Even if you score badly in your first few tests or essays, always take this positively, because there is always a lesson with every failure. The most important thing is not losing the determination and belief in your abilities, because if I can do it, you most definitely can too.
Last pieces of advice.
After what I’ve been through this year, I strongly believe in the saying that everything happens for a reason. Not only have I learnt how to make a come back from a downfall, but I’ve learnt so much about myself as a person; I now know that I am stronger than I thought I was and that nothing can ever stop me from what I want to achieve.
This summer I got my dream job working in the NHS. I’ve made new friends, caught up with old friends, I’m learning to drive, and now I’ve just secured a place at my dream university. After watching things fall apart for what seemed like eternity, it’s finally a relief to see them coming together. You will too.