Advice to an A-Level student by an A Level Student

By Monica Green

I am so pleased to have attained 3A*s in English Literature, History and Economics A-Level. To be completely honest, I have always been a fairly average student. I struggle to grasp concepts and complex ideas the first time round, I tend to flop particularly difficult IQ tests like the Maths Olympiad, and I generally rely on hardwork and dedication rather than ‘natural’ intelligence to get me through tests and exams. I genuinely believe that everyone is capable of achieving the highest grades if they approach their studies with the right mindset. I’ve written a few words of advice, and I hope it will inspire other A-Level students to believe that they can do it! Honestly, I’ve learned that there is no ‘magic bullet’ formula to doing well in school – patience, practice and progress is the key!

1) It is a marathon, not a sprint It’s the small gains that matter. Improving by a mark each week in a particular essay question can do wonders in the long-term! 2) Don’t just do your homework, do it well What you put in is what you get out. Try to put your absolute best into everything you do - you’ll thank yourself when it comes to revision! 3) You aren’t perfect, but beautifully imperfect. I remember pouring my heart and soul into the first draft of my History coursework, but I still ended up doing terribly. Repeat second draft. Things go wrong. And that’s okay – focus on progress, not perfection. (It was a struggle, but I eventually ended up with a piece of work I was really proud of!) 4) Success is a messy spiral – not a straight line In my time at Sixth Form, I’ve not only failed, but backtracked on the progress I’d made a lot of the time. I felt like I only could write a near-decent essay at the end of Y13. Developing skills take time. You’ll get there with lots of perseverance and patience! 5) Keep it simple Create clear and concise revision notes which you understand. Boil concepts down to the core and explain things to yourself as you would do to a 10 year old! Use words which you understand, and which convey what you mean – not which sound ‘smart’! 6) Perspective is key You are not a machine! Failing one test does not mean you are a failure. Reflect, refocus, and reign on!   7) Sometimes you’ve just got to spend the day watching Netflix in your pyjamas No further comment needed. 8) Don’t compare yourself to others! You’ll come across people who crack a concept first time, who read all the books on the reading list, who seamlessly juggle prefect duties with schoolwork (and still seem to have a social life). Reminder that no one is perfect. And their life is probably far from perfect. And even if it seems perfect, this does not diminish your potential. Focus on yourself – screw the rest. 9) Be your own fan and friend I cannot stress this enough! Take care of yourself. Nurture yourself with positive thoughts, learn to laugh at yourself, reward yourself and be yourself. A couple of letters on a sheet aren’t worth destroying your mental health over. Focus on your personal happiness, and the rest will fall in place! 10) Success is individual I’ve come to realise that success is more qualitative than it is quantitative. It is a feeling. Try your best because that's all you can do! And I'm sure you'll thrive.