How to prepare for your A levels over the summer

So, you have either worked incredibly hard at GCSE’s or have just finished tackling Year 1 of your A-Level content. You’re most likely feeling pretty exhausted, but you are also aware that a big year lies ahead.

How can you best use your summer to prepare? The first thing you need to do is be sure you take some time to relax properly so that you truly rest this summer and you are refreshed and ready for the new year ahead.

But there’s also nothing wrong – and many things absolutely right – about scheduling some time to prepare yourself for your upcoming A-Level study, particularly as much has been made of the complexity of studying Maths and the Sciences at A Level1.

Whether you are entering Year 12 or Year 13, it is important to try to gain some clarity around the key concepts and ensure you have grasped the basics. You don’t need to worry too much about specifics – you are simply trying to prepare for your next year of study, while ensuring you do not forget valuable information over the summer. You’re not about to sit the exam – no cramming necessary here.

Quite a lot of research has recently also highlighted the issues of summer learning loss. It makes sense too – the longer you spend not learning, the more you forget what you have learned before.

An American study estimated that students there lost up to 40% of their total school year gains during each summer2. Imagine that! – you might have as well stopped attending lessons in March, as you will have forgotten this stuff over the summer anyway.

The long 6+ weeks summer break in the UK, as nice as that sounds, is of particular consternation to school staff on this side of the ocean, because so much information is forgotten and has to be retaught. However, the highest performing students take steps to alleviate this issue and keep their minds engaged.

What Exam Board is your school using? Have a look at the syllabus and see if there are any topics you’ve already touched on, but are finding difficult. Revisit them and try to improve your level of understanding. Those end of year exams, if you are about to enter Year 13, are a good indicator of where your weaknesses lie, even before an entire summer of forgetting happens.

Do something, as long as you keep things ticking over in your head – your brain will thank you for it! In quiet moments, pull out your textbooks or notes and have a read through. Watch explanatory videos or listen to relevant lectures. We have plenty of material that can help in the Rugby School Online self-paced content – explanatory videos, animations and even exam questions.

It can take a surprisingly small amount of effort to start feeling confident ahead of the new academic year. You wouldn’t turn up to your first lecture or lesson without a notebook and pen, so don’t arrive with an empty brain either!

Summer is yours to enjoy, and learning can also be enjoyable, especially if you know it will help you hit the ground running.

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