IGCSEs and IALs -The Best Approach for Preparation

There comes a time in a student’s life when they have to finish high school/college, and to do that they have to pass the final exams to successfully end their high school/college days. IGCSEs (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) and IALs(International Advanced Levels) are examples of such exams. Unfortunately, some of us have to stress a lot when it comes to these exams, as these are, nonetheless, exams, but unlike most exams we wrote before high school/college, our exam papers are checked by the examination boards (for example, Edexcel and Cambridge) rather than the teachers who taught us. Hence, this contributes as a stress factor when we want to revise for the exams.

Stressed that you cannot get your revision done optimally (or at all)? Well, not to worry! Here are tips and tricks that helped me get straight As in my IALs which might come in handy for you.

1. Make yourself a fixed schedule for all your subjects. A huge mistake I made as a student early in my high school days is that I did not have a fixed schedule for any of my subjects. Hence, I used to waste my time by studying one subject more than the other. So, having a balanced schedule is important, as if you have a fixed amount of time to study each of your subjects, you will be able to study each subject with optimum efficiency. That way, you’ll be more ready for the battles that people call ‘exams’ than anyone who doesn’t follow this tip.

2. Read your textbooks and revision guides thoroughly. Make sure that you understand the general ideas on the topics you study, which are more detailed in the textbooks. Read the revision guide only when you’re done reading the textbooks, as (the name tells it all) it is for ease of revising. That way, you won’t be surprised (most times) if any off-the-radar question pops up in your exams.

3. Don’t memorize everything. This is a common mistake that I’m pretty sure most of us do. The IGCSEs and IALs are not exams that test your memory power; they are exams that test your understanding on the subjects you take. Hence, it is advised to not memorize literally everything. Memorize what needs memorizing, like the formulae, values of constants, atomic numbers of elements in the periodic table etc. to name a few.

4. Get familiar with the pattern of questions from the past exams. One thing that the examination boards are good at doing is maintaining a pattern of questions every year. The way you can get familiar with the question pattern is by solving exam papers from the past years. There is no limit as to how many you should do, but it is preferable to do the last 10-15 years worth of exam papers. If you want to complete questions on one particular topic at a time, make a topic-based question bank of your own from papers of the last 10-15 years, or you can download readymade topic-based papers from different websites; PhysicsandMathsTutor, SaveMyExams and Shawon Notes to name a few.

5. Use markschemes and examiner reports minimally when practicing past papers. It may seem difficult to do so at first, but attempt to write past papers without using the markscheme. Finish an entire paper first, and then match your answers with the markscheme. By doing so, you’ll be able to understand what went wrong in your answers and rectify your mistakes and, if you use the examiner report to structure your answers properly, you’ll be able to write well-detailed answers during your final exams with much more confidence as you’ll understand the context of the question much more easily.

6. Take regular breaks during revision. After you finish studying a subject as per your schedule (see point 1), take a break; have a good ol’ cup of coffee or a glass of water, listen to some music, get some Vitamin D from sunshine (if it’s a sunny day), have a look at mother nature; do something that puts your mind at ease. Your brain will get some rest and will be up and running for more studying.

7. Lastly, say your prayers and have a good night’s sleep before the exams. You’d want to be calm and cool during the exams. You’ll be nervous during the exams, and that’s totally fine. Whenever you get nervous, take a deep breath and think about how smartly you prepared for the exams. Have a positive mindset. Be confident. Finish the exam and come back home, knowing that you nailed it.

Hope this helps you study as it helped me. If it doesn’t, I’m pretty sure you’ll find other ways to study for exams, as my way of studying may not be suitable for everyone. Cheerio!

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