Making the grade: A* students share their revision secrets
What separates the A* students from the rest? We asked those who got top grades in their exams to divulge their tips and study hacks...
This is what students on The Student Room (TSR), who received at least one A* in their A-level exams, attributed their success to. Unfortunately none of them include leaving things to the last minute...
Read the examiners' reports
What baffles me is that, year upon year, the exam boards make public a document that is, wait for it, written by the people who are going to mark your papers. And in it, they tell you what they like to read. They also give you examples of what not to do.
Exam-technique wise, this is the most useful and important resource you have. Utilise it. Be all fancy and print it off and highlight key points and make spider diagrams. Stick it on your fridge. Memorise it, then eat the paper. Whatever. Just make sure, if you're doing an essay subject, you walk into that exam knowing that, for the last five years in a row, examiners have given high marks to pupils who offer criticisms to viewpoints, or who relate to personal research, or whatever.
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Check past papers
So put down those revision cards and mind-maps once you've learned them. There's no point going over something a million times; you need to be able to apply it. At least two weeks before exams, start concentrating on past papers. Do each one at least twice. With each one, trawl through the mark scheme and ensure you understand everything there. This gives you a better idea of how to think through an exam question.
I rarely just know the answer. In the harder questions I have to think about it and work it out. That's what you need to be able to do to get the high grades.
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Make it more manageable
For my exams I broke down a module into 20 sections or topics. It meant it didn't seem like much of a chore to start the next one, as they didn't last long. Then, before I knew it, I'd whizzed through the module without it being much work.
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Don't be tempted to cram
Go home from school and make flash cards and posters and so on. That way, when you come to the exam period, you already know most of it and it's just brushing up on final details. Don't frantically cram for an exam. There's no point - it won't go in.
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Create a plan
I then put this into a timetable so when it came down to revising I wouldn’t spend ages just flicking through any book finding something to revise but would know exactly what area I was to cover in that time period.
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