Applying To Natural Science: 6 Month Revision Timeline

Struggling to know what progress you are meant to be making in terms of your Natural Science application, we go through everything you need to be doing over the next six months.

Last Updated: 22nd April 2022

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If you are applying for Natural Science at Cambridge, you might be wondering when to begin preparations for the Natural Sciences Admissions Assessment.

With the Admissions Test just six months away, now is the time to get your revision underway.

In this guide, we will go through what we suggest you should be doing for the next six months to efficiently revise for the NSAA.

We will cover everything from starting your research plan and all the advice you should follow on the night before.

Start revising: 6 months to go

You might be thinking that with the NSAA being six months away that there is no need to start preparing but having sat your GCSEs and heading into A-Levels you will know time flies and It will come around in no time.

By leaving all of your revision to the last minute, you are only going to cause yourself more stress which will likely impact the score that you will achieve. This does not mean you are a bad student, rather it means your organisation skills need some work.

Instead of trying to cram all of your preparations into eight-hour days in the weeks leading up to the Admissions Test, revise for a short amount of time (30 minutes to an hour) every day.

This is also an effective way to manage stress.

There is no such thing as preparing too far in advance, and you could begin by familiarising yourself with the structure and style of the exam.

Remember, how you start is much less important than actually making sure you do start preparing.

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Create a Plan: 5 months to go

One of the first things you should do is create a timetable. This can be as complex or simple as you wish, the important thing is to have a visual element to help you organise your revision topics.

Do not spend too much time creating this or perfecting it, as your plans are likely to change from now till November.

The main thing at this stage is to have a structured approach to your revision, which you can use as a guide. We guarantee this will save you a lot of time down the line – so do not neglect the planning stage.

Revise Intensely: 3-4 months to go

As long as you stick to the plan you have created you will stay on track, you can enjoy your break from school and not spend all your time revising.

Thirty minutes of intensive revising is still enough at the stage, do not start past papers just yet. There is a limited number of past papers so it is best to keep these for when your preparations become more intensive.

Keep revising and building up your knowledge, as well as familiarising yourself with the format and style of practice questions.

Have a look through the specification and seek out topics you think are your weak points – this is where the biggest improvement can be made and, so, these are the points to focus on.

Identify areas to improve: 2 months to go

You must go into the test centre knowing exactly which sections of the exam you are going to answer and which you are not. Time in the NSAA is limited so you cannot afford to waste any of it browsing through questions and deliberating over the choice.

This also allows you to focus your preparation on the sections which are actually going to contribute towards your overall mark.

Therefore, you should take a look at the specification to see the content of each of the sections as well as start looking at past papers to see the style of each question. You could even experiment doing practice papers and see which combination of sections gives you the highest score.

Make sure to remember that the NSAA is based off of AS-Level knowledge, so you should have covered everything you need for the exam. However, content covered by exam boards differ and the NSAA is designed for students with a range of backgrounds so do go through the syllabus and make sure you are confident about everything you need to know.

Polish up your strategy: 1 month to go

You have now been preparing for five months so remember, you are ahead of the majority of candidates at this stage. If you feel like it is necessary, you can increase your daily revision time.

We know this might help psychologically but do not fatigue yourself.

Do as many past papers as possible, and always under timed conditions. There is a limited supply of past specimen NSAA papers available so there is no excuse not to attempt them all.

By far the most challenging part of the NSAA is the time constraints so it is vital that you practice the papers under timed conditions to get a sense of how efficiently you are required to work, while maintaining accuracy.

For example, in section 2 there are 20 questions to answer in 60 minutes working out as three minutes per question. Even without the added pressure it is difficult to answer them in that amount of time.

Remember that a.) Cambridge are not expecting you to finish the paper perfectly, and b.) it might be wise to pick and choose which questions to answer, e.g., if the question looks too long/question then just leave it and move on.

Do be wary that many of the past NSAA papers will be in a different format to the one you will sit and the number of sections you are required to complete might be different. However, these still have exactly the same time pressures as the Admissions Test you will sit and completing these older ones will still be incredibly valuable.

Final tips: 1 day to go

Just remember, do not stress. Easier said than done but there is no point stressing yourself out, which is more likely to cause you to make mistakes.

You have been preparing for months and are ready to sit the NSAA. Here are our final tips:

Dreaming of studying Natural Science at Cambridge? Our expert tutors are on hand to help you secure your place. 

With our Cambridge Natural Science Premium Programme, we help you craft the perfect Personal Statement, achieve a highly competitive NSAA score and teach you how to Interview effectively. 

Discover our Cambridge Natural Science Premium Programme by clicking the button below to enrol and triple your chances of success.

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