Ask any A Level student to share their goal for the year, and you’ll most likely hear the words “ace” and “exams” in the same sentence. The A Level schooling stage is critical. It’s a make-or-break year for students. If they secure top grades, they can attend a prestigious university like Cambridge, Oxford, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Berkeley, and the like. If they secure poor grades, they may have to attend a fair-to-middling university.
The university you attend determines the quality of education you receive and the value of the degree you hold down the road. If you wish to pursue a Master’s degree in the future, your Bachelor’s degree will determine which university you attend and which program you study. Think of it like the domino effect. Once a card is knocked off, it will affect the cards ahead.
As an A Level student preparing for their examinations in London, you should have one clear focus: securing top grades. A stellar grade sheet will help you study your dream program at your dream university, not just for Bachelor’s but also for a Master’s and possibly PhD down the road. A year of hard work will open so many critical doors for you in the future. This opportunity shouldn’t be taken lightly under any circumstances.
Cambridge Home School Online is considered one of the most esteemed online British international schools in London. Our education specialists and MA/MSc/PhD qualified teachers partnered for this blog to help students understand how they can ace their upcoming A Level examinations. If you are starting A Levels soon or have already kicked the year off, this blog will help you use the right strategies to secure stellar grades. Let’s begin.
1. Master the Art of Taking Good Notes
Many students underestimate the value of good notes. Let’s think about it this way. If you write a poem from scratch and read a poem written by a friend, which one will you remember? We don’t mean remember in its entirety but remember most of. Will you recall more verses from your own poem or your friend’s poem? The former, right? This is because you wrote the poem. You came up with every verse, you structured it, you built connections, and you refined it.
In other words, you invested a lot of time, personal effort, and energy into it. It’s your work. Since you created it, you have a personal connection to it. You’ll remember the verses, you’ll remember the thought process behind each stanza, and you’ll remember the personal experiences that reflect in the poem.
The same goes for note-taking. Everyone processes information differently. You could attend the same lecture with your friend. By the end of it, both of you could have very different sets of notes. Since we absorb, understand, and decipher knowledge differently, we’re more likely to remember notes that we created ourselves. You’re also writing the notes yourself, which activates your memory even more.
Self-written notes are your ticket to stellar grades. If you’re consistent with note-taking, you’re knocking on the door of A*s and As, and there’s a big chance you’ll be let inside. If you haven’t developed the habit of taking notes, start now. Every student should start taking notes in primary school or secondary school at best. By the IGCSE and A Level stages, you should be a pro note-taker.
As you attend your lectures and seminars, jot down the most important points your teacher makes. Additionally, jot down any questions you may have in a separate notebook. Students often come up with questions mid-lecture but avoid asking them immediately to avoid breaking the teacher’s flow. By the time they can ask these questions, they’ve forgotten them. Taking down questions during the lecture will go a long way in helping you clear up any confusion you may have.
Coming back to your notes, they should be clear, concise, and understandable. If your teacher says something in a complex way that you don’t understand, raise your hand and ask them to repeat the thought. Jot it down when it’s repeated in simpler words. If you can’t stop them, quickly simplify it and take it down in an understandable form. This may sound like a lot at first. However, students develop a knack for good note-taking pretty quickly.
2. Tweak Your Revision Schedule
You’ve taken excellent notes. Now what? Many A Level students make the critical mistake of skipping regular revision. Your notes will amount to nothing if you don’t go over them regularly. Inconsistency is a dangerous habit that can take a toll on your preparation. If you’ve developed a habit of revising every other day, you may want to make some changes to your revision schedule.
At Cambridge Home School Online, we believe that consistency is the single most powerful tool that can help A Level students ace their examinations. You don’t have to revise for hours regularly. However, as long as you review your notes and lessons for the day, you’ll manage to commit important concepts and knowledge to memory. This process is critical. It’ll help keep your preparation on track.
If you skip a couple of days, you’re “piling” on a chunk of new concepts. As you tackle them a few days later, you’ll feel overwhelmed. You may stop halfway through or revise hastily. A Level preparation becomes easier when consistency is introduced to the flow. If you’re inconsistent, you’ll often feel that the A Level stage is too difficult.
Speak with your teachers and tweak your revision schedule. We recommend spending roughly 1.5 hours revising your learnings for the day. If you do this regularly, you’ll make things easier for yourself. At Cambridge Home School Online, our teachers routinely plan skill-building activities for A Level students. We teach students how to take effective notes, how to create and follow a good schedule, and how to avoid being inconsistent. If you’re struggling to develop these habits, your teachers will take the reins.
3. Arrange Study Circles with Your Friends
As an A Level student, make sure you ask yourself what your preferred mode of studying is. Do you like studying alone or with friends? Some students prefer the former. For others, group study is a game-changer. Take some time to understand which of the two you prefer. We also recommend discussing this with your friends to get a good idea of their preferences. If several of you study better in a group setting, arrange study circles.
This approach works exceptionally well for students who easily get distracted or feel restless when they study alone. If you’re having trouble staying on track when you study by yourself, trying a different approach can help save your grades.
We recommend having a “mediator” in the group, i.e., a teacher or an older university student who can keep the group on track. At the end of the day, you’re arranging study circles with your friends. If there isn’t a mediator present in the group, group study could end up turning into an evening of sharing anecdotes. This is fine, as long as there’s ample studying in the first half.
If you can’t stay focused and end up turning party mode on halfway through the session, you’ll do more harm than good. A good mediator will help keep everything on track and share curriculum-related insights if and when needed. This is why requesting a teacher to help out is the best approach. However, you can also ask an older sibling, parent, or family member to assist.
Make sure there’s a specific subtopic selected for the day. Additionally, remember to bring your notes. Effective group study can help students secure excellent grades. The plus point? You’re studying with your friends, i.e., spending quality time with them. As the entire group excels in their exams, the collective feeling of euphoria, gratitude, and joy will be worth it.
4. Solve Past Papers
As an A Level student, you can’t expect to ace your exams if you don’t consult past papers. This is non-negotiable. At Cambridge Home School Online, we encourage students to solve past papers from the previous 5–7 years. This is imperative. It’ll help you develop nuanced insights about the way questions are structured, the topics and subtopics that are repeated, and the answers you’re expected to provide.
Try solving a set of unsolved papers first. Submit these to your teachers for grading. They’ll provide comments to help you improve. They’ll also give you a set of solved questions and help you understand how to improve your performance. Past papers are one of the most valuable resources available to A Level students. Make the most of them!
5. Don’t Ignore the “Easy” Stuff
If you want to ace your exams, you may feel that focusing on the most “difficult” areas is the right approach. It is. However, many students only focus on the complexities, leaving the “easy” stuff untouched. This will end up negatively affecting your grades. Don’t ignore the subtopics and topics you find easy. Give them sufficient time until you’re confident you’ve gotten the hang of it completely. You may end up finding complexities within these “easy” areas.
Your preparation should be complete. Yes, prioritising certain areas of the curriculum is completely okay. This will depend on what you find most difficult and which areas will most likely be tested in your examinations. However, you should cover everything in its entirety. Don’t rely on guesswork or skip a topic because you don’t think it’s important. Thorough preparation and revision will help you ace your examinations.
6. Consult Your Teachers as Frequently as You Want
Your teachers are indisputably the best resource that is available to you. At Cambridge Home School Online, our A Level students receive lessons from MA/MSc/PhD qualified subject specialist teachers. Students are encouraged to consult their teachers as frequently as they want.
It’s important to note that your teachers possess detailed insights into your learning trajectory. What are your academic strengths and weaknesses? Which exam-related skills do you lack? Which topics and subtopics are you having trouble with? Since our student-teacher ratio is low, our teachers can track each student’s performance closely. As you consult your teachers, they’ll help you take the right measures to improve your performance consistently.
We also recommend using additional tools like online resources. At CHS Online, every A Level student has access to our vast online library of educational resources. You can access previous catch-up lessons, PowerPoint presentations, videos, seminar and lecture recordings, worksheets, study guides, past papers, and so much more.
Our students use these resources to revise for the day, brush up on their skills, and learn something new. The learning process never stops. Once you’re done with your classes, you can utilise these resources to improve your preparation further. The right tools and support will go a long way in helping you achieve academic excellence.
Cambridge Home School Online is trusted by thousands of parents across the globe. We provide a quality Cambridge online education to students across four homeschooling programs: Primary Prep/Key Stage 2 (ages 7 to 10), Lower School/Key Stage 3 (ages 11 to 13), Upper School/IGCSEs (ages 14 to 16), and Sixth Form/AS & A-Levels (ages 17 to 19).
As an A Level student, take a closer look at our A Level program, the enrolment requirements, and the term dates. If you’re a parent looking for online primary schools, online classes for secondary education, or IGCSE schools online, explore the rest of our programs. We’re presently accepting applications from students living in the UK, Europe (including Western Russia), Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
As one of the most oversubscribed online independent schools globally, we’re committed to helping our students secure top grades, develop a range of essential soft and hard skills, enjoy a healthy school-life balance, and become well-rounded individuals who excel in different areas of their life.
If you have any questions, feel free to speak with our chatbot. Let’s start securing a better, brighter future for you.
How can A Level students maximise their academic performance through online schooling?
A Level students can maximise their academic performance by mastering the art of taking good notes, adhering to a consistent revision schedule, engaging in study circles with friends, solving past papers, and seeking frequent guidance from their teachers.
What is the significance of note-taking in achieving success in A Level exams?
Effective note-taking is crucial as it personalizes the learning process, allowing students to retain information better and refer back to their own understanding of the material when revising for exams.
Why is it essential for A Level students to maintain a consistent revision schedule?
Consistent revision helps A Level students internalize daily lessons, avoid feeling overwhelmed by the accumulation of material, and ensures comprehensive preparation for exams.
How can study circles contribute to A Level exam preparation?
Study circles, particularly those mediated by a teacher or an experienced student, can provide collaborative learning opportunities, keep students engaged, and offer diverse perspectives on the subject matter.
What role do past papers play in preparing for A Level exams?
Practicing with past papers gives students insight into exam patterns, helps identify recurrent topics, and familiarizes them with the format and expectations of the actual exam.