A-level Exam Help: How I Went From a C to an A*

Once upon a time, I was sat exactly where you are – first term of AS nearly over, sick of exam reminders and being asked my plans after college. Fast forward two years, two universities, two courses and two cities later, I am currently an LLB student at the University of Manchester.

I still vividly remember A-levels; the stress, the constant fear of failing and the frustrating attempts to beat procrastination. Despite the living nightmare (AKA A-levels), I managed to go from an AS-level grade that was a C to an A* in law at the end of A2 – it’s possible!

With mocks just around the corner, now is the prime time to get to grips with the foundations of knowledge you need (I assure you, you already have it) and really focus on exam technique. Get into good habits now and thank yourself in May!

A-level Exam Help: Get Organised

No, I don’t mean spend hours cleaning your room to avoid revision and I also don’t mean getting out your colours and spending an entire day making the prettiest revision timetable that you are never going to use. I’m talking lists.

A-level Exam Help: Get Focused

Now that you’re organised, it’s time to focus. You’ve probably been lectured about revision techniques since GCSEs and every time you roll your eyes and you think, ‘I already know this’. Fear not, I won’t be lecturing you, but I will tell you that it’s time to put your techniques to the test.

Using the technique that works for you, get to grips with the legal knowledge and learn the cases. The technique I used was pretending I was teaching the topics – talking it through aloud meant I was able to explain them using my own words which, funnily enough, is what you need to do in the exam.

Repetition was important for me – I would first ‘teach’ the topic using my notes and after doing this a few times whilst reducing my notes, I was able to speak about topics without any notes whatsoever.

If talking to yourself isn’t really your thing, then talk it through with your peers or impress someone else with your legal knowledge (note: I advise against bringing this up on a first date).

A-level Exam Help: Get Practising

Nothing said so far should be causing you stress, why? Because you already have the tools that you need, you just need to actually use them!

The best way to do this is exam practise and yes, I am aware that this seems extremely long and you can probably list 101 other things that you’d rather spend your time doing. But who said that you must spend hours upon hours writing up exemplar answers?

It’s all about gradual practise – start by just familiarising yourself with the types of questions that you can get asked. Once you’ve learnt a topic and feel confident about it, why not try to plan a relevant problem question? Or mind-map a plan for an essay question? By doing these steps, you and I both know that you won’t find writing an exam answer daunting, instead you’ll feel prepared and know that you can do it.  

A-level Exam Help: Get Prepared

You have to build exam confidence and that confidence comes from feeling prepared. You don’t want to be in a position where you go to sit your exam, open the paper, read the first question, and start panicking and planning how you’re going to tell your parents that you’ve failed and that you have to live with them for the rest of your life because you have nothing going for you.

Instead, you want to read the question and know that you are well-equipped to answer it.


It’s normal to feel nervous and go into panic mode whenever you think of exams but just remember, you have everything you need to succeed and if you don’t, there’s nothing stopping from getting whatever it may be. Good luck, you’ve got this!


Published: 20/12/17       Author: Sanjeeda Ahmed

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