tips for surviving a levels ft THE PERFECT DESK PADS

// desk pads available from www.sighh.co from 20th July, sold separately, £4.50 each //

I’m slightly scared that this blog post might be a little premature seeing as results day is still a little while away and potentially this advice could be no use to you at all. Can you tell I haven’t written in a while because I’m not really selling this v well at all. Sigh. ANYWAY, regardless of my exam results (*prays I’m going to university in september*) I did in fact survive my A levels. Something I was a little dubious about at a number of points throughout the two years but it seems I actually made it to the end so hopefully this advice will be of some use to peeps who are maybe about to start sixth form in September or year 12s about to transition into year 13. Even if you’re not from the UK and have a different schooling system entirely or are older/younger and are at a different point in your education, I hope these tips and tricks that I’ve picked up along the way are even somewhat helpful. 

THE STATIONERY MUST HAVES:

Pretty stationary is a must for effective revision and class notes. Always. It may seem silly but I know I was always a little more inclined to make revision notes if I had a colour coding system with some funky pens (heads up: Muji is THE place to go for revision pens) or if I had pretty notebooks to fill with essay plans or glossaries and hints and reminders I thought of along the way. Treat yourself at the beginning of term to some notebooks, pens, highlighters and colouring pencils if you wanna get really fancy with the colour coding because I promise they make revision and note taking all the more enjoyable!! The gorgeous desk pads shown in the photographs at the beginning of this post are from the fabulous site Sighh Designs which, if you’re a long time reader, you will deffo be familiar with!! Polly (the wonder woman behind the beautiful products) is releasing a tonne of new things on the 20th July including these desk pads which are a must have for organising everything in your school life and will set you up perfectly for organisational success from the start! They are sold separately for £4.50 each so if you’re interested head over to www.sighh.co from Monday to see them and all the other fab-u-lous products also coming to the store. (Also realistically who can resist a spending spree on the Sighh Designs site people). 

THE PREP:

One thing that I think is absolutely key to A level (or as I said, any other education system) success is the preparation. It can be very easy with GCSE’s to just revise during exam season for each up coming exam and not necessarily put in a lot of work throughout the rest of the year but I really would try and avoid this technique as much as possible in sixth form. I know the idea of A levels is terrifying and trust me I was a little terrified whilst doing them but if you prepare from the start and put in a consistent amount of effort then you really really will be fine !! Of course there will be days where your class notes aren’t the best or when you can’t be bothered to go over what you’ve done that day but that’s normal; you’re only human! The main piece of advice that I’ve told my sister (hey katie if you’re reading) for when she starts sixth form in September is to make sure you understand what’s happened and what’s been taught before leaving every lesson. Ask questions about things you’re not sure on, make notes that will be easy to understand when you look back at them and highlight or write in colour the important bits of info. The worst thing you could do which I am COMPLETELY guilty of is leaving a lesson without understanding something and then coming round to it during exam season and panicking. It’s so common to put off working on a concept or something that you don’t understand but if you try to make sure you understand as much as possible as you go along then you can avoid the exam season mental breakdowns as much as possible!! I BELIEVE IN U GUYS. 

EARLY BIRD REVISION IS YOUR BEST FRIEND:

It might seem ridiculous to revise for months before your exams for someone who is used to a little more last minute planning but organisation and revising early on is the best decision you could make. I started building up revision material from January onwards and obvs I wasn’t working as intensely and pushing myself as much as in the actual weeks approaching exams but I think it’s important to not leave anything until the last minute. Make flash cards that can quickly be looked over when you’re on the bus or for quick reading before bed, put mind maps and posters up in your room and ask your family to test you regularly to make sure info stays in your brain !! Practice papers can be useful but don’t over stress yourself when looking at them. I found them to be really valuable for making sure I knew the format of the exam well so like timings, the number of questions, the style they were written in etc but don’t freak yourself out with them! Practice answering some past questions in non timed conditions at first and then keep reducing time limits until you’ve cracked it !! I’ll be honest and say I never really practiced essays in timed conditions; I did a couple that way but found it far more useful to try and write the best essay I could at home despite the time limit and it then gave me a perfect model to revise from! ALSO, another tip would be looking at patterns of past exam questions as this can also be super helpful but never completely rely on them; always prepare thoroughly for every type of question.

SLEEP AND STAYING CALM:

Stress can make it super hard to sleep but I can’t stress ((oh the irony)) how important it is during exam season. I spent far too many mornings waking up frantically to my alarm and feeling like I hadn't slept at all that night. Make time for bubble baths, fresh air and early nights; they’re important for your revision and class work to stay in your brain but for your health and mental well being too which are equally as important !! Try and get as much sleep as possible on week nights and allow yourself a lie in every once in a while to rest your body and brain. Also try not to feel too guilty for allowing yourself breaks and time out of the house. This is something I majorly struggled with and my work vs rest balance was COMPLETELY wrong but now from a retrospective point I can see just how important it was. 

PROCRASTINATION QUEEN:

I will admit, I am the queen of procrastination. I so wish I wasn’t but I think I have so far accepted it and fingers crossed can break the bad habit in the future. Despite this, I think the internet (my weakness) can be really great in small amounts; reward yourself with a youtube video or half an hour break for twitter when you’ve completed a set amount of work. Social media won’t make you fail your exams as long as you use it in moderation during exam period. I would never be able to stop using twitter and as you know if you follow me I tweeted about exams approximately 3492929 times ((it’s an addiction I just can’t stop)). Sometimes it’s nice to vent or get things off your chest on twitter and also to see how other people who are also going through exams are feeling. It might sound mean (really not intended) but I always found reassurance in the tweets of other people panicking for exams too because it really does help you from feeling so alone during a time when it’s easy to become very isolated. This doesn’t just apply to exam season though because I’m aware that it is currently July and next exam season is almost a year away but for school in general I think social media can be a really great way to relax and reward yourself for completing the things you need to. 

I hope these 5 (rather lengthy) pointers are kinda helpful and make the idea of tackling A levels or school in general a little more manageable, I BELIEVE IN YOU SO YOU SHOULD BELIEVE IN YOURSELF TOO <333

sighh designs insta : @sighh.co
polly's personal insta: @pollyvdsz 



3 comments

  1. I start sixth form in September (only slightly worried ((that's a lie, v worried)) ) so these are rather helpful points. I am also so bad at doodling, however the to do list looks v v handy!!
    Estelle x - www.letmegoxo.uk

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    Replies
    1. good luck and aw honestly there's no need to worry, just keep on top of your work load and you'll be 100% okay !! and yes I can tell I'll be using them a LOT too xo

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  2. loved this post! However I wish I read it much earlier before any of my a-level exams! Really great tips :) xx
    www.emilyjanewebb.co.uk

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