Revision tips for the final school year

For those students taking A-levels, Year 13 is your most important year at school. It is the year that you have to really knuckle down to ensure you get the best grades of which you are capable. Natalie Lancer from and MyUniApplication offers revision tips to help you on your way.

Year 13 revision is a marathon and not a sprint. In Year 12, you may have got away with cramming at the end of the year, and doing fairly well in your AS levels. However, this is because questions at this level are based on short answers. If you couldn’t do a question and you left it out, you probably wasted up to six marks. Depending on your subjects, at A2 level, leaving out a question might be worth 24 marks, which could cost you several grades. You are required to write long answers or perform multi-part calculations. You cannot rely on a basic knowledge of the subject.

So how do you approach this? Firstly, make sure you have a number of exam board-specific study guides/text books for you to consult at home. Some books will be more helpful than others for certain sections of your syllabus, or may explain something in a more meaningful way to you. It is important that you know where to look for information and to feel confident in using your books to help you understand your subject fully.

Secondly, download a syllabus from your exam board website and make sure you understand the structure of your exams. Ask your teacher which options they have decided to teach you, where options exist.  Each week, read the topic you are studying at school in advance so that you have an idea about what to expect. This means that when you are in the lesson, you do not come to the topic ‘cold’. You will be able to process what is being said at a higher level and you will be able to remember it more effectively.

Create a system of making notes in the lesson, abbreviating words to help you write faster. Leave enough space in the margins and between each section so that you can supplement it with information from your study guides at home. You may like to write your notes on a laptop if you are allowed, as this facilitates adding notes at a later stage.  At the end of each day, read your notes as this will help you learn them. If you do not understand something, look it up or ask your teacher. Make sure you understand everything as you go along – don’t leave it until the end of the course. The trick is to make your notes comprehensive and well-laid out at the point of writing them so that you do not have to spend time making new notes near the time of your exam.

Start learning the material when you have some bulk time – maybe in the holidays. When you are ready to learn the material, make sure you have no distractions – turn off your phone and your internet. You do not need the internet to revise! Work for forty minutes at a time and then have a ten minute break. During the forty minutes, focus all your attention on being able to recall the material, and understand key terms and concepts. There are a number of ways you can learn the material – write out points on flashcards, create mind maps, develop special phrases to help you remember a sequence of important words or record the notes onto your phone and listen to them wherever you go.

Once you have proved to yourself that you know your stuff, by writing it out or saying it out loud, do a past paper. You should know enough information so that you can write for the full amount of time. Ask your teachers to mark these and to give you detailed feedback. If possible, try to sit down with them outside of lesson time to tell you what worked well and how you can improve. Write the feedback down and next time you do a paper, check the items off the list to make sure you have addressed all points.

In the January before your exams, make a realistic revision timetable so you know how long you have to learn everything. In the weeks running up to the exam, all your energy must be spent on learning your notes and practising past papers. Avoid having late nights – it is important that you are totally fresh for each revision session.  There will be plenty of time to go out with your friends after your exams and your friends will be revising anyway.

Natalie is the founder of and MyUniApplication. She can discuss your university and career options in one-to-one sessions and give you expert guidance on your personal statement and revision techniques. For more information, contact Natalie Lancer on 01923 85 0781 , 07747 612 513 or at

Natalie’s top tips for Year 13 Revision

  • Buy a selection of study guides/text books for home use
  • Make sure your system of making notes is robust
  • Use different ways to learn the material
  • Practice applying your knowledge using past papers
  • Get and act on feedback from your teacher
  • Make a revision timetable
  • Focus on your end goal – getting the best grades you can
  • If you feel your revision techniques aren’t benefitting you, contact a professional for advice.