How to pass A Levels

How to pass A Levels

If you’re reading this, you are probably wondering how to pass A Levels. These exams are vitally important, as you already know, as they open doors to further education or employment. There are plenty of things you can do to help yourself to succeed in your A Levels – and this article gives you the starting point to set you on your way!

How to pass A Levels If you’ve not yet started

Skip this part if you’re already deep in your course! But if you’re yet to begin your studies, the key things for how to pass A Levels:

  • Do you know what university course you may wish to apply for? Some degrees require specific A Level subjects, and even combinations. Have a look on the university websites for further details and specifics. For instance, not having Maths A Level can exclude you from some Economics or Science courses – it’s worth checking in advance!
  • What do you enjoy studying? Once you’ve set sights on your future goals, and you have a list of potential subjects that match your future aspirations, have a think about what you enjoy doing and play to your strengths. It’s much easier to revise something you have a genuine passion for! This is so important when it comes to how to pass A Levels.
Girl learning how to pass her A Levels in Science with a demonstration of atoms.

If you’re already studying A Levels

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. That adage you’ve heard a hundred times before holds true for A Levels too. The key to success in how to pass A Levels is thorough planning and preparation.

Work backwards from your exams

It’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed when you first sit down and look at your modules. You might think “there is just SO MUCH to study!” but do not fret. With a clear plan, you can break down your courses into manageable chunks and ace those A Levels.

A good place to start is to have a think about your timings to create a winning schedule. Over the course of your A Level course, you are likely to have mock exams ahead of your final exams. Find out when these will be and make a revision plan according to the timeline. Take the mock exams seriously – treat them like “the real thing”, so the actual exams will be easier. Mock exams are key components of how to pass A Levels.

Ask yourself:

  • How much time do I have ahead of this mock/exam?
  • How many topics do I have to cover? How many modules?
  • How much material can I realistically revise over this period? How many pages a day, a week, a month?

Then create a realistic revision plan according to your timings and needs.

How to pass A Levels? Use practice papers

After you’ve revised, past and practice papers are an absolute must. Mock exams are effective for a reason – they show you where your gaps are. Understanding these gaps and improving those weaker areas is how to pass A Levels with the best marks possible.

Make sure to schedule a practice paper midway your revision schedule, as well as at the end, to give yourself time to have another look at the areas where you may have some work left to do.

Then, schedule these into your revision plan regularly. If you find you’re already very familiar and comfortable with some modules, you may be able to adapt your timelines to allow for more time for the areas you need to spend a bit more time on.

As you finish practice papers, have a look at the mark scheme afterwards. What are the skills, competencies or knowledge being assessed? Is there something you already know but you’re just not writing down? Sometimes, what seems obvious can actually score you those two extra points if you make it known you are aware of it. Being conscious of the marking criteria as you structure your answers or show your working and be beneficial.

Understanding what examiners are looking for is the best and most helpful piece of information you can have on how to pass you’re A Levels.

In addition, practice papers can be very helpful if you hand-write your exams. Many of us are very used to typing away on our phones or laptops, so it might take a few go’s before you get comfortable with writing at speed, and with clarity. And don’t forget, examiners can’t give you points if they can’t read your writing, so legibility is important too.

Ask for help on how to pass A Levels

Been staring at the textbook for half an hour and nothing going in? The ideas on the page going right above your head? Feeling like you just don’t know how to tackle a question? Never fear – lots of students feel this way. Asking for support when you get stuck can bring that clarity you’re seeking.

There are lots of resources available to help you with your A Levels. Whether it be official revision guides and textbooks, materials from your teacher, or online videos (make sure these are from a credible source first!), or external tutors, there is plenty of support available out there. The best way to seek help is to understand where your gaps are.

This is where practice papers can be really helpful. Some self-reflection can be helpful here. Is it the content that is a bit challenging, a specific concept, a specific formula? Is it a lack of a broader context and background to what is being taught? Is what you’re learning being pitched at a level too high or too low for the grades you’re aiming for?

Taking this time to prepare will pay off in the long term. You can do it!

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