Acing the GCE A Level Exams: Our Top 23 Strategies

gce a level

The GCE A Level examinations are no easy feat to conquer. Many students often find themselves struggling to cope with the demands of the curriculum and with tertiary education itself. To remedy that, below are several tips and tricks that will surely improve your revision and enable you to excel in your GCE A Level Examinations!


Read also: GCE A-Level Singapore – H1, H2 and H3 Explained


7 Revision Time Management Tips

person holding white mini bell alarmclock


This is probably one of the greatest evils for any A Level student; managing revision time effectively to maximize the amount of revision that can be done. Below are some definitive methods to better manage your revision time and boost the effectiveness of revision time, aside from some tips we have provided for subject-specific guides. 

Read also: 4 Useful and Effective Time Management Tips for Students



Plan out the Revision Tasks

sticky notes on paper document beside pens and box

Plan out the revision tasks to be covered for each day at the start of the day; ensure that they are manageable for completion in the day itself.

Read also: Study Planners: How to Study Effectively & Efficiently


Adopt the 50-10 rule

Study for 50 minutes, and then give yourself a 10 minutes break after. This helps maintain mental freshness for effective revision. This is also known as the Pomodoro study technique

Read also: Active Recall and Spaced Repetition: How to Study Effectively


Schedule in time for extended breaks

shallow focus photography of white ceramic mug beside two baked cookies on brown wooden board

Schedule in time for extended breaks as rewards for continuous studying. Time for a few YouTube videos, Netflix or even to relax with friends also ensures mental freshness is maintained and prevents the lethargy of extended studying from setting in.


Keep a notebook tracking all the revision tasks. 

pink covered book in top view photography

Include tasks you have completed, tasks to be done, and the priority level of each task (in relation to upcoming tests and exams for example). This helps you stay on top of your revision planning, and allows you to accomplish revision tasks in order of need and priority.


Follow the 3-3 Principle;

(Source: https://beyond-recovery.co.uk/our_work/the-three-principles/)


Set out 3 big revision goals you want to achieve at the end of the week. Subsequently, plan out 3 smaller goals for each day of the week that work up to those 3 big goals. 


Write each day’s goal down on a piece of paper and keep it within eyeshot all day. Ensure that by the end of the day, each of the 3 tasks is completed. Only then, do you allow yourself to focus on other tasks. This helps to deal with distractions that might come up in the day that prevent us from achieving revision goals, by focusing attention on what is important.


Plan out Revision Schedules for Holidays

black marker on notebook

This is especially so for the longer June and December holidays. Utilize the 3-3 Principle to this end. By planning out your revision in detail for the holidays, you avoid procrastinating revision until the final few days of the holidays and ensure that more revision that is effective (and not haphazardly rushed) is completed. It also allows you to project your work for an entire month, to ensure that you are efficiently working towards certain large overarching revision goals.


Practising under timed conditions. 

clear hour glass beside pink flowers

Doing revision under timed conditions not only prepares you for the exam condition but ensures that you do not waste too much time on one task. Cambridge has already helped you determine how much time different revision tasks should take; just take points from the examination durations!


4 Revision Productivity Tips for GCE A Level Exams

Now that we have explored how to maximize our revision time and manage it well, let’s establish some wisdom that will definitely boost the productivity of our allocated revision time.


Find a regular study spot. 

two books on wood plank

If you cannot study at home, find a spot outside where you can study efficiently. Try to look for places that are generally peaceful, and have other people focused on work too, to help you focus on yours. Examples include libraries, cafes, and study corners in schools and Community Centres. The key here is to make this your regular study spot. Doing so leads to a subconscious association of work and productivity to that location, ensuring that your studying session there will be fruitful.


Curating a conducive home study environment. 

boy in gray crew neck t-shirt reading book

If you opt to study at home, create a dedicated study area for yourself. Minimize proximity to distractions such as TVs, pets and phones, and preferably be near a peaceful window (to allow eye strain to be relieved). Similarly, the idea is to create a subconscious association between work, productivity and that space, to ensure fruitful studying sessions.


Analogue > Digital Part 1. 

gce a level

Typing is a simple memory-based, repetitive exercise that does not activate key areas of the brain responsible for information retention. Writing however directs precise hand movement with thought, engaging those same areas. Hence, physically writing out your revision notes, essays and practices help with your ability to retain information.


Quality > Quantity.

Given the rigour of the A-Level syllabus, it is sometimes tempting to study as much as possible. However, this leads to the weariness that eventually impacts productivity. Instead, focus on studying for fewer hours, but ensure that sufficient rest is catered and discipline administered such that these fewer hours are consistently productive.


4 GCE A Level Exam Calibration Tips

Now that some general principles to ensure revision time management and productivity have been set, let us explore how we can move beyond just revising for exams, but calibrating ourselves to sit for the A-Level exams.


Analogue > Digital. 

Today, it might seem tempting to do notes or consolidations digitally, rather than with pen and paper. The same can be said of practice essays. However, remember that you will be writing your answers out in exams; not typing. Thus, it is prudent to train your writing speed and stamina (and for some, handwriting) for the exams during your revision sessions.


Practising Under Timed Conditions. 

Doing practices under timed conditions helps to simulate the exam conditions of time stress. This facilitates acclimatization to it and enables us to hone our approach to the papers in the exam. Treat every revision practice done as if it is the A-Level exam. That way, you will build confidence and fully calibrate yourself for the actual A-Level paper. The goal is for the A-Level exams to not be a national exam, but to be just like another practice for you.


Practice as if it were the GCE A Level Exam. 

brown wooden table and chairs

Beyond just doing practices in accordance with the timed conditions, it is also meritorious to do it as if it were the actual exam. This means delivering answers in full, to the same standard as if it were the exam, and approaching full paper practices the same way we would in the exam. This again calibrates our answering techniques and exam approach. This way, the A-Levels will again not seem as much a national examination as it is just another practice to you.


Time of day. 

This is a much-overlooked aspect of revision; the time of day revision is done, particularly leading up to the examination season. 


This principle advises that the time of day that a subject is revised should coincide with the time of day of the subject’s paper as much as possible. For example, if the GP exam is in the afternoon, then it should be revised for in the afternoons. 

If Chemistry MCQs are in the morning, then Chemistry MCQ Practice should be done in the morning. This trains your brain to think about the different subjects (and even the specific paper) at specific periods of the day, that coincide with the exam. 

Trivial as it may sound, it actually makes a difference with regard to mental sharpness and speed of thought to respond to exam questions. This is especially crucial to avoid running out of time and to ease exam panic.


8 Revision Strategies for GCE A level exam

woman in black long sleeve shirt using macbook air on brown wooden table

Having explored tips to make revision time more efficient, productive and prepare us better for the examination, let us now explore some general principles to guide your revision. These principles will definitely help to boost the quality of revision that you do!


person writing on a book

Note-Taking In Class Part 1. 

Avoid taking notes on your laptop. Similar to typing out revision notes and practices, your brain will not be fully engaged and hence retain less information for you.

Note-Taking In Class Part 2. 

While taking notes on paper, restrain from just copying down everything the teacher says. That precludes you from taking time to internalize the teacher’s comments and let it blend with your own understanding. Jot down key ideas the teacher references, and important bits of elaboration. The Key is to allow the content to be processed, not just written down. Consider using the Cornell Method to take notes. The usefulness of this is compounded when used in tandem with 17 – Pre-Reading Notes.


Pre-Reading Notes. 

gce a level

While this seems a mundane activity, active pre-reading of notes allows you to identify key concepts within the notes that you need to take note of. This allows you to focus your attention in class/lecture for when the teacher begins talking about those key concepts. Also, jot down questions you might have, so you can look out for answers to these questions in the lesson/lecture.


Concept Consolidations. 

gce a level

Concept consolidations are useful tools to help summarize the key concepts needed for the particular chapter being studied. Given the emphasis on application, conceptual mastery is key to being able to excel at the GCE A Levels. Thus, concept consolidations aid in reaching conceptual mastery. Furthermore, explaining concepts in your own words facilitates understanding.


Teach Others. 

gce a level

It is one thing to think that you fully understand a key concept or particular topic. It is another to know that you do. Another way to deepen conceptual mastery is to teach them to your peers and check for accuracy. If you can teach the concept such that others understand it, assuming that you have taught it correctly, you can be assured that you do truly understand the concept. 

Used in tandem with 22 – Work as a Team Part 2, it allows you to check the soundness of your conceptual understanding with a study group interested in collective academic success


Revising As Per The GCE A Level Exam. 

It is one thing to just read and revise content with summaries and consolidations. However, you will not be delivering consolidations of concepts and topic mind maps at the GCE A Level exam. You will be delivering responses to examination questions. As such, the main method of revision should place content and concepts in a format for a study that mirrors the way it is to be delivered in the exam. 


If certain Biology explanations require certain keywords, ensure they are included in revision material and all practices. 

Consider doing detailed essay outlines for History or Geography and study from them. This ensures that the way your brain has structured and retained information is similar to the way it is to be delivered in the paper. 

Thus, it eliminates the additional cumbersome step of mapping learned knowledge to the format of answers, allowing for better answers to be delivered.


gce a level

Work as a Team

The content dimensions of the GCE A Level are extremely wide and deep to be covered in ~18 months of school. Add to that the slew of extracurriculars and events that will sap your already limited time. Thus, form a study group and split up the work among yourselves. Then pool your resources together. This covers more ground in a shorter span of time, enabling you to cover the entire syllabus to a sufficient depth, in time.

Working in a study group

It also gives you more minds to bounce ideas off, discover memory tools to retain content and resolve doubts as they arise. It is a close intellectual and psychological support framework that will greatly ease and better the GCE A Level experience, and work towards collective academic success.


4 Revision Wellness Tips

gce a level

If you are hungry, Eat. 

There is no point studying on an empty stomach. You will just get distracted and lose focus. Forget the diet plan, you can always work it off after the A-Levels. The guys have an army to help them and the girls have 9 months before university. So do not starve yourself and your brain’s intellectual potential. Feed yourself well (avoid anything that you know makes you sick) and then return to your revision.


If you are sleepy, Sleep. 

There is no point in trying to go on studying if your eyes keep closing. Caffeine may keep your eyes open but it does not keep your brain refreshed to understand and retain content. Sleep well, and if the Z-monster strikes, give in once it is acceptable to do so.


If you are sick, See a Doctor

Do not try to study while sick; again, you will not be effective. Take the hour to see a doctor, and maximize the rest of the time you have for revision after feeling better.


Lastly, seek help early.

 If you know you are struggling with a subject, do not waste time and believe you will eventually understand it. Given the conceptual nature of the GCE A Level, every single topic builds upon the last. 


Thus, misunderstandings from earlier tend to snowball into grave conceptual misunderstandings that are often difficult to correct. As such, consider seeking help early when signs of misunderstanding arise. 


Tutopiya offers online tutoring services for various GCE A Level subjects. They are flexible in timing and can take place at a location convenient for you! Thus, it can be a solution to help remedy your doubts before they compound and to assist you to ace your GCE A Level examinations.

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