At A Level, every subject has its own difficulties, whether it is an impossible maths question or the structure of a write up question, they must all be overcome. However, those are not the only difficulties of A Levels.
I've just taken my AS-Levels and these are some of the most difficult things I’ve experienced over the past year and here’s how I overcome them.
Being able to prepare yourself mentally for what is to come is just as hard. That night or two before your exam where you no longer have a way out is challenging in itself, let alone also trying to squeeze in as much knowledge as possible. If you are one of those people who gets eaten by stress, you are not alone. I would be surprised if anyone was not stressed, you have been preparing a whole year for this exam! At this point, it’s often best to just put your pens down, stop cramming, rest for the night and try to get your 8 hours sleep! More if you can, you’ll thank me later.
Once you accept that you will sit in an uncomfortable chair with nothing but bits of paper in front of you, you must not forget that you have to remember everything you have learnt over the year for the exam. After trying out tens of revision techniques, including thinking of putting that recording of your notes under your pillow. You will come across a method that works for you, you will hopefully remember the majority that has been said to you over the school year.
Being able to acknowledge that there is a difference in knowing something and understanding it is vital to passing your A Levels. You can easily memorise a nice long list of gibberish, but until you understand each word of that list, you can’t piece it together. Many students don’t realise this until it is too late, hence they try to memorise every word in their revision guides. Knowing that, make sure that you do understand as opposed to just knowing it!
The time of finally looking at your first question approaches, so much adrenaline flowing through your body that you completely misunderstand the question. Thinking that you are answering the question correctly you don’t think to look back as you’re writing to see if that is the case. When it comes to marking your paper, the examiner can’t give you marks for something that is not relevant to the question, regardless of the quality of the answer. So remember, read the question twice and once you’ve done that, give it another couple of reads.
There is no doubt that a person makes more mistakes under stress. If you have ever written an essay and then looked back it, you will know that a lot of what you write initially makes little sense. If you’re wondering, yes, this does happen during your exam. No matter how confident you are that everything is absolutely clear, it won’t. There are so many things going through your head that the chances of missing out an ‘a’ or an ‘and’ are high. The sooner you realise this, the more likely you are to go back and give it a quick scan where you can easily fix what you have missed.
Finally, the most difficult of all. Walking out of the exam only to realise what the better or correct answer was to the question. If you’ve ever taken any exam you will know what this feels like. The most important thing is to not hate yourself, let it go.
I hope this helps, and good luck to everyone taking exams next year!
Still have questions?
You can search Tutorfair for experienced A-level tutors across a range of subjects from Maths, to physics and English.