This is part 1 of a 6 part series which will teach you how to study for A-Level Chemistry and Biology.
We’ll start by talking about getting into the right mindset for studying. This is so much more important than it sounds. The two tips I’ll give you in this post are the foundation for making sure you get everything else right.
1. Forget what you think you know about studying from GCSE
Some students find they can get through GCSE by working hard but not really learning how to study. They turn up to lessons, revise using the CGP book and do some past papers right before the exams.
The lucky ones even find that this is enough to get them As and A*s.
Other students manage to do very little work at all, pretty much wing it for 2 years, and still get half decent grades.
For both groups of students, the problems only begin when they get to A Level.
They carry on doing the same things they did for GCSE and go into the mock exams full of confidence. And then end up with an E. Which is a big shock because they feel like they’ve been doing all the right things. They can’t understand why the things they did for GCSE aren’t working for A Level.
The truth is, for A Level you need to be much more focused than for GCSE. You also need to spend A LOT of time developing your exam technique and practicing applying your knowledge. Hard work alone work alone isn’t going to be enough to get you the grades you want. You need to work hard at the right things.
So, to get through A Levels you’re going to have to learn a load of new study skills. Fortunately, that’s exactly what I’m going to teach you in the next 29 tips.
2. Take 100% responsibility for your own learning
Out of all the tips I’m going to give you in this book, this is by far the most important one. Even if you completely disregard everything else I say, make sure you pay attention to this:
You need to take 100% responsibility for your own learning.
At A Level there’s a lot of emphasis on ‘independent learning’. This doesn’t mean that you’re expected to teach yourself the whole course. It does mean, though, that you shouldn’t expect your teachers to teach you everything you need to know. You also shouldn’t expect them to tell you what to do when you go home and study every night.
It’s going to be up to you to find out what you’re supposed to know, keep yourself organised and do the work.
Plus, the truth is that some of you will have teachers who aren’t doing their jobs properly. I meet a worrying number of students whose teachers admit to using PowerPoints from the old specification. Or those who are being given all kinds of weird handouts that look nothing like what’s in the text books. Or those who haven’t even been taught key concepts.
If you don’t take responsibility for your own learning you won’t even know if you’re in this position. You need to notice the gaps between what you’re learning at school and what you need to know for the exam, and fill them in.
Remember, it’s your exam results that are on the line. You don’t want to go into the exam, see questions on things you’ve never heard of, and end up thinking ‘well, I didn’t realise I needed to know that’. The examiners aren’t going to know or be sympathetic to the fact that you had a crap teacher.