Tips on Going Back to School and Study After the Summer Holidays

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Amy studied at the University of Bristol and is our revision blog guru. She only graduated recently so understands the pressures of being a student better than most, and is here to share her wisdom so that you revise effectively, smash your exams, succeed at school and write cracking university and job applications.

When the summer holidays come to a close, the summer sun may still be lingering but the summer holidays are not, so it’s often tricky to get the ball rolling again. Your hand might even have forgotten how to hold a pen! You’ll soon remember how it’s done, though, as you get back into the swing of things, learning new topics and maybe even taking on new subjects.

So, apart from stocking up on fresh sets of stationery, how can you prepare for what’s ahead? Read on to find out how to make the most of the new academic year that comes after a long summer holiday, including ideas on getting creative, learning from exam past papers, and setting goals.

1. Spend your evenings wisely

If you’re struggling to get your head in the game in lessons, why not try and spend your evenings doing some activities that will help get you engaged?

Brain puzzles like sudoku and crosswords are a great place to start, as they really give your brain a good stretch.

You could also try doing something productive and therapeutic like drawing, painting, or baking. All of these activities are methodical and enable you to produce something at the end, which will help you feel as though you’re creating and achieving something.

2. Set some objectives

We’d really recommend making a list of the things you want to achieve this year, whether it’s going up a grade boundary in a subject, learning more about a particular topic, or improving your French accent. This will help give you a sense of purpose as you stroll down the corridor to lessons this term.

It’s also important to remember that not all your goals have to be academic! Taking up a new hobby can be a fantastic way to let off some steam after a long school day. Not only this, but extra-curricular activities demonstrate to employers and admissions departments that you’re well-rounded and committed, and could become the basis of some fun social events should you wish to carry these activities on after you’ve finished school.

3. Start as you mean to go on

Think back to past Revision You and take pity on them. Remember the feelings of frustration when you couldn’t find certain notes, or your folders were out of order? Even if you’ve not been that organised before, the start of a new school term is the perfect time to hit reset and become the person you’ve always wanted to be!

Keeping your school notes neat, completed and in order from the very beginning of the year will make your revision life so much easier. Make sure you have a record of your GCSE past papers and A-Level past papers in terms of what and how you’ve practised with them. The effort you put in now will be worth ten times the amount when it comes to revising. So make sure you stay on top of things from the beginning, follow up anything you don’t understand, and give yourself the best chance of success right from the start.

4. Expect it to be hard

Expect the expected: the new school year is going to be harder than the one you just completed!

Everyone talks about the jump in difficulty between GCSEs and A-Levels but there’s also a jump between AS and A2 which should be appreciated. It’s never fun to feel like you’re not good at something or are struggling, but this doesn’t mean you’re not up to the challenge.

Finding something difficult shows that you’re taking on new skills and knowledge and adapting to the change. This is a process everyone has to go through, so keep at it, work hard, and soon you’ll wonder why you ever found that algebra problem so hard!


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5. Learn from the past

Don’t let this summer’s exam results throw you off course now, neither by being too complacent nor too despondent. If you were happy with your results, that’s fantastic, but there’s always room to improve and if you don’t keep your eye on the ball then this upward trajectory might take a turn.

Likewise, if you didn’t get what you were hoping for, don’t let that cast a cloud over this year. Exam mistakes happen and they don’t define your ability to succeed – or mean you’re destined to get the same grade again.

That said, it’s important to draw what lessons you can from the past. The best students are the ones who can take on constructive criticism and use it to shape their future work. Did you find a certain topic surprisingly difficult? Could you could improve your essay structure? Now is the perfect time to start working on these things so that when exams roll around again you’ll be ready to smash it.

6. Don’t be afraid to get extra help

No, it’s not a sign of weakness to get extra help and, yes, there are lots of options out there. Getting a tutor doesn’t mean you’re not intelligent enough to do it on your own, as they won’t be doing the work for you. Tutors merely make sure you fully understand the work and are equipped to do it!

It’s not too early to start getting help either, as you want to make sure you’re completely confident in each topic. In these first few weeks of term you’ll be given the foundations of knowledge which future lessons will build on, so you want to make sure they’re solid.

Getting extra help also doesn’t have to mean seeing a tutor, which can be expensive. Seeing your teacher after class, going to older students for advice or simply making the most of online resources are all great ways to shore up your knowledge.

7. Surprise yourself

Finally, being prepared for the new school year also means letting yourself be open to the unpredictable opportunities coming your way. It’s important to have goals and game plans but don’t let that stop you saying ‘yes’ to exciting new things that present themselves.

Some of the best experiences, which help you grow and develop as an individual, are those you couldn’t have planned for or didn’t know exist. So don’t be afraid to knock on doors of opportunity, because you never know which ones might open.

Readying yourself for OCR exams? Want to practice with Edexcel past papers? Sign up today and begin the best exam preparation possible now!

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