How do I achieve an A*?

How do I get better? How can I achieve an A or an A*? Why isn’t my hard work paying off?

These questions are commonly asked by students eager to improve. The fact is that hard work alone cannot guarantee top results. So, what’s going on?

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a grand name for a simple, but powerful, theory. A well-known paper on the topic has been cited almost 10,000 times by educational researchers. Essentially, there are different levels of hard work. The easiest and most basic is ‘remembering’. This is simply training your brain to recall facts and is where most students start. Examples include highlighting notes, rewriting notes, and using flash cards. The next level of hard work is ‘understanding’: can you follow the lesson and grasp why the facts make sense? Many students focus their work around these two skills, but these are basic skills. They might be sufficient for GCSE, but at A-level they’re not enough.

Bloom’s taxonomy identifies additional learning skills beyond remembering and understanding. These are what teachers call ‘higher order skills’, students might be more familiar with the term ‘problem solving’. These skills include applyinganalysing, and evaluating. To be an A/A* student at A-level, it is essential to practise higher order skills. Beyond school, these skills are valued by employers ranging from JPMorgan Chase to the British Army.

During the revision process, students normally start with class notes and simple recall. After these, it is essential to make the transition towards practice-based problem solving. Initially, students could try these problems with their notes, with teacher support, or with a friend. These study techniques make the transition easier. Past papers are a rich source of problem-solving questions, but many others are available in textbooks. The right type of hard work is one of the cornerstones of Rugby School Online. So, in summary, how do you move to the next level and reignite that GCSE flourish? Look inside ‘problem solve’ and the letters spell ‘reblooms’. Perhaps that’s no coincidence.