How do I use the Easter Holidays effectively for A-level revision?
The Easter Holidays are a great opportunity for uninterrupted A-level exam preparation.
We have outlined how you should use your Easter Holidays to revise for A-levels, including planning, staying healthy, perfecting your notes and tackling past papers.
1. Make an A-level revision plan
Easter Holidays fly by. Before you know it, you are back in school again.
One way to keep on track and avoid losing out is to stay organised. Most students use a revision timetable. These can be rigid and based around hours of the day, or more flexible where the aim is to reach goals at the end of each day or week. The important thing is that you cover everything you need to study during the Easter Holidays.
Don’t set yourself up for failure, we are all for ambition but make your goals realistic. Setting achievable goals that still require hard work will make you feel you are progressing rather than always playing catch-up. Having a more positive and reasonable approach will make revision so much easier.
When creating a revision timetable, avoid being too general, for example, ‘Biology 10:00 – 11:30’. Subdivide your subjects into the different A-level exam papers and specification topics to end up with a clear list of everything you need to cover. Highlight the topics you find harder and then allocate more time to these areas. Make sure you still go through the sections you find easy, you will be kicking yourself if you lose marks in the sections you are comfortable with.
2. Start a Routine and stay healthy
Sleep, social life, sport and eating healthily go hand in hand with effective revision.
Fuelling your body with healthy food, getting enough sleep and exercising will help your concentration and combat A-level stress. Make sure you allocate time to see your friends and continue your hobbies. Easter A-level revision does not need to be a painful experience. Working hard does not mean cutting out what you enjoy. For tips on how to stay motivated during your A-levels, we have an article here. If you’re looking to get into running or general exercise, try the NHS Couch to 5K.
Adding breaks to your timetable will help you focus more and avoid burning out. Leave your desk during breaks and try working in different rooms for a change of scenery.
3. Perfect your a-level notes
Ideally, you should have the majority of your revision notes written. If not, don’t worry as you have plenty of time to go through them over Easter. You should aim to refine your notes to concise versions of all of your A-level topics. These notes will act as helpful reminders and you can use them to test your knowledge.
Start wider reading to help deepen your understanding of the subject and reach higher marks. We have an article that covers wider reading for A-levels in more detail here.
One way to refine your notes is through creating flashcards, mind maps or both. If you don’t fancy drawing your own mind maps, sites like MINDMUP allow you to create them digitally.
4. Find your strengths and weaknesses
To achieve the best A-level grades, you must identify the topics that you feel need more revision time. Be honest with yourself and avoid spending too much time going over areas you find easy. If you are not comfortable with certain topics, ask your friends, watch videos and look through revision guides. YouTube channels like SnapRevise have lots of useful revision videos.
We know that going into school over Easter is the last thing you want to do but capitalise on all the revision sessions your school provides over the holiday.
Make a note of your weaker topics during the Easter Holidays and write a list to go through with your teachers when you are back in school.
A good way of identifying the topics that need extra revision is through exam questions, but we’ll talk more about them later. Anki is a flashcard-based app that shows you flashcards more frequently on the topics you find difficult.
5. A-level Past paper practice
Exam papers will demonstrate how much you have retained from revision and highlight your weaker areas to focus further revision on, especially under timed conditions without your notes.
Try to go through as many question papers as you can because you will learn how to answer the majority of the questions that will come up in your final exams, especially essay questions. Make sure you understand the differences between critical and descriptive words in questions, for instance: outline, discuss, to what extent, summarise, contrast and demonstrate. The University of Leicester provide a good explanation of these essay terms.
Create essay plans for all of your relevant subjects and attempt to write the essays from memory using the structure you made. Make sure you start marking your own essays and exam answers and always give yourself an honest score. Self-marking will also help you understand what the examiners are looking for and you can always peer mark your friend’s papers.
Keep track of your grades from practice papers so you can see if you are making progress and which questions you are losing marks on.
Tackling past papers under timed conditions will force you to be concise with your writing and work through your papers strategically. Some people prefer to start with the essay questions first, others start at the beginning of the papers.
Go through your completed past papers with your teachers when you return back to school and ask for their advice on how to pick up extra marks, what you are doing well and where you need extra help.
The Easter Holidays are a great time to identify and work on the topics you find difficult. Make sure to take breaks, see your friends and keep up with your hobbies. A-level revision should be a balance of hard work and breaks, it doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. If you start the Easter Holidays with a revision plan with achievable goals, and then perfect your revision notes and test yourself through practice papers, you’ll be racing towards the top A-level grades.
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