Former student Sophie shares her revision advice

As we enter exam season, Sophie, a former student of member college Lowestoft Sixth Form College tells us about her exam experience and gives her hints and tips for revision practice:

I revised poorly at A Levels; poor techniques, low self-esteem, unsure if it was all worth it – the lot. Since attending University I have shaken things up and I am more confident and doing very well on all my modules. I am on a University of East Anglia Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) Foundation Year program so in September I will be joining the first years on the MPharm course.

Here are some exam and revision tips that I wish I’d known back in school:

1. Teach someone else: I did not do this enough when I was at LSFC. I am not very good at reading textbooks however this was my main revision technique at A Level. So instead I now try to teach my friends. If you’re teaching someone and they have a question on the topic, you’ll either feel confident knowing the answer or you’ll work together to discover the answer. There is lots of evidence that teaching is one of the best ways to learn and revise!

2. Memory devices: For exams which require you to remember long processes/chains of events, memory devices or mnemonics can help with the retrieval of big chunks of information by using small clues as a guide.

Mnemonics help you remember minute details without taking up too much space eg, I used ‘Pyramids Teach Us Constellations’, to remember Pyrimidines = Thymine, Uracil and Cytosine during A Level biology.).

3. Do past paper questions in exam and timed conditions: Past paper questions are obviously a great way of testing your knowledge on the subject but it’s also important to know how many minutes you have to answer each question too. At A Level I lost many marks because I was too slow in my maths exams. I was slow because I didn’t like revising under timed conditions but at the end of the day the exam was timed, so I missed out by not doing so.

4. Stay motivated: Don’t worry about what happens after the exams until after the exams. Do your best and you’ll come to accept whatever happens in the future but right now, keep going! You can worry about the “what ifs” during summer and closer to results day. It sounds cheesy but your grades really don’t define you.

On results day I missed my biochemistry offer of BBB. I fully believe that everything happens for a reason because looking back I was unsure if I wanted to do biochemistry and it gave me a chance to think about my options.

Through clearing, my grades allowed me to join a pharmacy foundation year program at UEA and I couldn’t be more thankful for the experiences I gained. It’s an extra year, but for me it’s what I needed. I’ve learned so much about myself and I’m on a course that I love, had I have got BBB I would have had a totally different experience.


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