How Do I Improve My Grades: A Level Study Guide Part 2

January 23,2022

Welcome to Part 2 of ‘how do I improve my grades’!

Everything mentioned in Part 1 simply facilitates studying. The actual studying still looms above every student, appearing to be an unscalable mountain, unable to be conquered. However, do not fret as we are here to help! These are some tips I would give to my younger self if I could:

    1. Identify your motivation
    2. Understanding your subjects
    3. Create a conducive environment
    4. Study moderately and consistently
    5. Find your own learning style


Identify your motivation

Firstly, identify your individual motivation. Why are you studying? What is your purpose? Is studying a means to an end or an end in and of itself? These are just some of the most salient questions regarding one’s reasons for studying.

To me, studying could be an end in and of itself as I enjoy learning Math and Chemistry. To you, you might wish to do something completely unrelated to the subjects you’re learning. To another, it might just be because their parents tell them to. To someone else, they may wish to help the world by studying hard and allowing their voice to be heard. My point is, everyone’s motivation is different; but ultimately they are similar in the sense that they are what drive all of us to study. Whenever you feel like giving up, think back about your motivation.

Understand your subjects

Secondly, break down your subjects. What do I mean by that? You must first understand what kind of subject it is and what are the relevant practices required to improve. For example, Math is simply a subject you’ll get better at by practising, GP is a skills subject, whereas Chemistry and Physics are a mix of memorisation and application of concepts. Each of these subjects require different ways of studying for you to become polished and well-versed in the subject (will be covered in the next section).

Create a conducive environment

Next, you must set up a conducive environment for studying. I cannot emphasise this enough. Before organising my room, I just found it extremely difficult to start studying. The close proximity of my cozy bed to the study table did not help either. After watching a YouTube video, something in particular struck me as memorable and insightful: we move in the path of least resistance. So to me, the resistance acting against me studying was my bed, my messy study table, my phone games etc. Naturally, we need to remove these sources of resistance. I put my bolster and soft toys in a “cross” shape on my bed, reminding myself to not lie down.

I also organised all my notes for each subject and put them on the other side of the table (my table is L-shaped so I study on one side of the L and my notes are on the other side), making my notes very accessible whenever I need to refer.

I also set up this function on my phone which blocks all my games when I’m studying. Sometimes, your house may not be the most conducive for studying, so you can also choose to stay back in school to study before going home. During the period before A-Levels, I had a study group with my friends. We did papers together over Discord and tested trivia with each other. Looking back, it would have been incredibly tough doing papers by myself, and I am really grateful for my friends.

Study moderately and consistently

One of the most important things you must remember is that the journey to A-Levels is a marathon, not a sprint. Consistently studying a moderate amount everyday instead of cramming content before tests will help to forge a strong foundation, while also avoiding burnout. This means watching your lectures and tutorials on time. From my experience, there aren’t many benefits to be reaped from doing work ahead by too much. By the time your tutors go through the tutorial in class, you might have already forgotten what you’ve done. Spending time to recap is simply inefficient. Point being, consistency would make studying so much easier and effective.

Find your own learning style

I do not mean to labour the point, but I shall reiterate for good reason: how one best retains information is based on your individual learning style. Visual learners may prefer to make mindmaps which helps to interlink overlapping concepts and ideas. Auditory learners could listen to lectures repeatedly to reinforce memory. Ultimately, try out different methods and find the one most suited for you.

Thanks for reading Part 2 of the study guide and those of you only struggling with one or two subjects in particular, see you soon for Part 3!