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5 Common A-Level Revision Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

5 Common A-Level Revision Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

6 min Read|September 26 2023
|Written by:

Megan Isaac


Almost 800,000 students took A-Levels in 2022, with 14.6% of students achieving an A*.

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Unfortunately, many students make common mistakes when revising for their A-Levels that can negatively impact their chances of success. In this guide, we will cover the 5 most common A-Level mistakes and how you can avoid them in your revision, helping you achieve top marks in your upcoming exams.

Mistake #1: Procrastination

Procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing tasks, and it can be a major problem for A-Level students. It can be easy to put off revision, especially when there are so many other things going on in your life, but the longer you wait, the harder it will be to catch up. This is especially true as the exams draw closer, and you'll find yourself feeling overwhelmed with the amount of material you need to cover.

To avoid procrastination, it's essential to set specific goals and create a schedule. Start by breaking down your revision into smaller chunks, and set a goal for each one. For example, instead of saying "I need to revise for my A-Level exams," say "I need to revise for my A-Level exams, and I will do this by revising one unit per week." Once you've set your goals, create a schedule that will help you achieve them. This could be as simple as creating a revision timetable, or using a planner to map out your study sessions.

Another way to avoid procrastination is to eliminate distractions. Try to create a study environment that is quiet, you could also try turning off your phone and closing social media tabs. Additionally, you can set time limits for yourself, and commit to studying for a set amount of time before taking a break. One of the most effective productivity techniques, which dates back to the 1980s, is the Pomodoro method – this is a time management system in which you break your tasks into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks. Each chunk is called a Pomodoro and after you have completed 3-4 pomodoros you take a long break (about 15-30 mins). Our experienced tutors highly recommend this Pomodoro timer – you can put in all your tasks for the day and tick them off one by one, and it will time each pomodoro and break for you. This will help you stay focused, and you'll be able to complete more in less time.

Mistake #2: Lack of organisation

Being organised is essential for effective A-Level revision. It can be easy to get bogged down in a sea of notes, flashcards, and textbooks, but with a little bit of organisation, you can make your revision much more manageable.

To stay organised, start by creating a revision schedule. This could be a weekly schedule, outlining what you need to cover each day, or a daily schedule, outlining what you need to cover each hour. This will give you a clear overview of what you need to do, and when, so you can plan your revision sessions accordingly. Additionally, you can use a planner or calendar to keep track of important deadlines, such as when assignments are due or when exams are scheduled.

Rather than long hand-written notes which can get lost or muddled up, you can use flashcards to organise your notes and make them more manageable. Quizlet is an excellent resource – you can make your own sets of flashcards for each topic or even search for sets of flashcards that other people have already made to save time. This will help you to quickly find the information you need, and will also make it easier to review and memorise the material.

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Mistake #3: Not reviewing past papers and examiner reports

Past papers are an essential part of A-Level revision, and many students make the mistake of not reviewing them. Past papers provide a wealth of information, including the format of the exams, the types of questions that will be asked, and the level of difficulty of the material.

To make the most of past papers, create a study guide. This could be as simple as creating a list of the topics you need to cover, or as detailed as creating an outline of the material. Another tip for reviewing past papers is to take note of any patterns or trends in the questions that are asked. This will give you an idea of what to expect on the actual exam and allow you to focus your revision on specific areas. Additionally, take note of any mistakes you made and make sure to review those topics again before the actual exam.

Many students use past papers without looking at the examiner reports which are published alongside them. These reports outline common mistakes made by students and also tell you what the top students did well, all from the people who actually mark your exams! These are hugely useful resources to look at, so don’t make the common mistake of not using them. For example, in this Biology Examiner Report it states ‘The key to answering question 04.4 successfully was to use the information provided – that the lyxose binds to the enzyme and that the graph shows that lyxose increases the rate of reaction. Many students started their answer with the idea of lyxose being an inhibitor and reducing the rate of reaction – this limited them to one mark out of three.’ This could be a real gold mine in your revision, telling you exactly what areas to focus on what to avoid.

Mistake #4: Not taking breaks

It's easy to get caught up in revision and forget to take breaks, but it's important to remember that taking breaks is essential for effective A-Level revision. Without breaks, you'll burn out and lose focus, which can lead to decreased productivity and increased stress.

To avoid this mistake, schedule regular breaks into your revision schedule. As mentioned above, the Pomodoro method can be very useful in helping you manage this. During these breaks, step away from your revision materials, and do something that you enjoy. This could be going for a walk, listening to music, or even just taking a nap. These breaks will help you to recharge and come back to your revision with renewed focus and energy.

Mistake #5: Not seeking help when needed

Many students are hesitant to seek help when they need it, whether it's asking a teacher for clarification on a topic or seeking extra support from a tutor. However, not seeking help when needed can be detrimental to your A-Level revision and ultimately, your grades.

To avoid this mistake, don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Consider seeking extra support from a tutor if you're struggling with a specific subject. They can provide personalised assistance and help you to understand the material better. At TutorChase we provide 1-1 lessons with elite tutors who have studied at top UK universities, achieved A* grades in their own exams, and have years of tutoring experience with a track record of success helping students.

Have a look at our top tutors to see how TutorChase can help you achieve your A-Level goals.

Final thoughts

A-Levels are crucial for students looking to go to university and for those looking to pursue certain career paths. However, effective revision is key to achieving the grades you need to reach your goals, and many students make common mistakes when revising for their A-Levels that can negatively impact their chances of success. In this article, we discussed 5 of these common mistakes, procrastination, lack of organisation, not reviewing past papers, not seeking help when needed, and not taking breaks, and provided tips on how to avoid them. By avoiding these mistakes, you can make the most of your A-Level revision, and increase your chances of success.

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Professional tutor and Cambridge University researcher

Megan Isaac

Written by: Megan Isaac

Oxford University - BA Politics, Philosophy, and Economics

Megan recently graduated from Oxford University, achieving a first class degree in PPE. She has has six years of tutoring experience, teaching a range of subjects at GCSE and A-Level, as well as helping students with their applications to university including Oxbridge.

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