How To Pass Your Cambridge A Level…In 9 Months

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The Cambridge A Level exams whether in the Sciences or Arts or Commercial subjects is boot camp, well, in an academic sense. My meaning here is that studying for your Advanced Level exams is equivalent to preparation for the rigors in the academia. If you successfully pass your A Level exams with three straight As, there should be no school anywhere in the world that should take you for granted. In fact, in some countries your A Level passes guarantee you a place either as a sophomore or a freshman in an Ivy League. But what we’ve experienced over the years is a situation where the candidates hardly have a jolly good idea what they’re up against, or that they know but bungle things up at the last minute.

Here’s how I think you could pass the Advanced level muster.

  • Go back to those old notes you took in High or secondary school and study them again thoroughly. They are the tools with which you need to build a rock-solid foundation for your A level.
  • Be sure you have the correct syllabi. Know the options for each paper and most of all, know the paper weightings. By this we mean that certain topics in certain subjects attract more marks than others. Concentrate on those areas. A certain year we had students scoring A in very lowly weighted options of a paper but had low scores in the areas that carried high marks.
  • Attend less and less of class and do more of research both on the internet and in the library. The student who scores the A is one who has gone beyond what the teacher says in class but adds what he knows to that that the teacher teaches. There was a candidate in my school who had made an A in Geography from another school – no mean feat, I must tell you. When I asked him how he managed to pull this off, this was what he told me: ‘If you woke me up from sleep at any point in the day and asked me any questions from any section of Geography, I could give you the answers’.
  • Make friends with the teachers, tutors or whatever they are called. Show them you got what it takes. Let them know you’re keen and they’ll break their backs trying to make sure you pass and pass very well.
  • Shut the world out. No phones. No parties. No girlfriends. No boyfriends. Slave driver I am, eh? But the A level is one that normally takes two whole years to complete and you want to do a crash programme and still carry on with all of the other extras? No, that wouldn’t do. If you have to complete your syllabi for three stiff papers, wouldn’t you rather shut the world out awhile for just 290 days of your entire life?
  • Write every test assignment you’re given. In some countries there is a cumulative record of all of your tests that could affect your overall grade.
  • If you’re in the Arts, let your handwriting be legible. The same goes for the Science and Commercial subjects. The answers are in English and the English are sometimes known to get upset with a shoddy handling of the language. Be neat in the presentation of your answers. Some of the exams state that neat and orderly presentations of answers are prerequisite for passing.
  • Read the questions very well and make sure you understand them. In most cases, the understanding of what is required of you is a clue to unraveling the import of the entire paper. For instance in the A Level Literature-in-English paper, we have discovered that one essay-based question could have as many as seven other questions embedded in that one question. So if you were to respond to only one or two of the questions in that one question, chances are there that you may not do very well.
  • Polish your essay-writing skills. Nearly every Cambridge exam question should be handled as if you were writing an essay. This presupposes that you must know that essays have four parts – the title (which may be optional) the introductory paragraph (consisting of the thesis and central idea), the body of the essay and its conclusion.
  • For the Options in the Sciences, if you look closely at the mark schemes you would discover that quite a lot of the answers required are to be given either in a sentence or a phrase rather than with single words. So if the answer were to be say, ‘long leg’ and you wrote ‘leg’ as your answer, oops!
  • Please do research past questions. They give you feel of what to expect and they get you familiar with the disposition of the entire exam.
  • If you were to take heed to all of these suggestions and you barely studied, you would waste everybody’s time as well as yours. You must study, study and study either by yourself or with friends and with a time-table.

Now that you know, go for it!

MajiriOghene Bob About MajiriOghene Bob
Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku, freelance journalist, runs a private media outfit, Bob MajiriOghene Communications, Abuja. He received training in ECOWAS institutions in Accra, Ghana and in environmental journalism by the International Institute for Journalism, IIJ of InWent, Berlin Germany all in 2008. Bob is the author of Deep Sighs, Tears for A Birthday & other poems, Secrets of a Diary, SAT/TOEFL Essays: lesson notes questions & answers, and has concluded the draft of a children's book, Mamud & the Moringa Tree in August 2013. Other manuscripts he is working on include HOLY LIES, (a play), Once upon a Dog and Other Stories, and I WANT TO LICK MY UKODO & OTHER POEMS. He lives in Abuja, Nigeria and is facilitator for the prose fiction module for the monthly writing workshops organised by the Abuja Writers Forum, AWF. His opinion pieces have been published by Nigerian newspapers like Vanguard, ThisDay, Daily Independent, The Guardian of Nigeria, and by international publications like Equatorial Press, YahooVoices and in a German periodical, KULTURAUSTAUSCH. He can be reached on 07031068186  -  majirioghene@yahoo.com. Visit his blog.

26 thoughts on “How To Pass Your Cambridge A Level…In 9 Months

  1. hello so i just received my AS exams results and i did so bad.the most disapponting thing is i studied and studied for so long yet i still fail.how does someone recover from such a shock and how do i better myself to get the As?and i do agree A level is no joke not one bit!lol

    Reply
  2. wow that was really motivating but, i already passed my A level with straight A’s (Thanks God). so could i have more tips for university.

    oh and a little note, getting straight A’s didn’t require shutting down from the universe totally, just try to be more controlled….thanks

    Reply
  3. Thanks, this is great, I even bookmarked it so I can come back later and remind myself of some of these things. Trying to get good results in A levels without the same amount of time people usually have is hard, but I guess it must be good preparation for Uni.

    Reply
  4. i have a brother who wants to take this exam and he wants to use it as a direct entry into medicine in a university in Nigeria.he is presently a final year student in the same school.my question to u is can he prepare on his own?

    Reply
  5. oh my god I’m really stresses about the A Levels, especially about history. How do you guys recommend to study for history( A level Modern European History)? My teacher always says structure is more important than factual knowledge, but I really don’t think so. Also I think people who study their buts off for 2 yeears might be able to get an A. If anyone is taking the BIO AS practical 2mrw, good luck or for English on Friday.

    Reply
  6. Hey!I really need help..im an AS level biz student and my teacher doesnt go into details..at all!!I mean when i opened Dave hall and Peter simpson there was so much that he hadnt done with us..if i rely on him ill et no more than an E on my finals..im giving my AS and even though iv taken to studying on my own n making my own notes im fairly sure that i wont go past a C..can you tell me a site where i can find the marking schemes i need pls?any other advice you can give me would be helpful aswell!!

    Reply
  7. majirioghene@yahoo.com · Edit

    Hi there Dotun, I would recommend that you attend a good A level school and try to use one stone to kill two birds. This is what I mean: that while preparing for the A levels, use the knowledge therein to apply for JAMB, but still keep the A levels firmly in mind. Most of the stuff in JAMB is usually A level stuff.

    You did not mention the universities you applied for but I would suggest you apply to either Unilag, Uniben, Ibadan, or Ife. In my opinion, these universities have a name, and academic standards that could help.

    Oxbridge College, I can’t say whether or not it is a good school. What I can say, however, is that they have the facilities in place that could help you if you work hard.

    All the best, Dotun

    Reply
  8. Hi there i have my cambridge O level exams and i am hoping to do the A level exam would you recommend Oxbridge tutorial college as a good school and if i start preparing from now for the exam which i hope to write in May/June do you believe i can pull through and come out successfully ,or should i retake the UME because i have also done the UME and even the postume and i also made my WAEC and NECO exams but i was not given admission due to the injustice at the University i chose please help me

    Reply
  9. majirioghene@yahoo.com · Edit

    Hi there Emmanuella, this is to wish you good luck in your A levels. You will need it in addition to some of the things I mentioned here…

    Reply
  10. Hello out there, If you need serious intensive coaching for the Cambridge A levels in Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics , Furthermaths, Sociology, Economics, Business studies, English languge and Biology. We have a formidable team of tutors here in Nigeria who are ready to even offer private classes. If Cambridge coughs or sneezes on any question, these tutors can tell you what Cambridge means. They can disect exam questions, impart understanding on how and why of different parts of the syllabus due to their experience with it. Various students who have passed through this team are now in the universities doing well. The name of the group is the WISDOMFIELD GROUP. You can reach us on 08032199322, 08052302412.

    Reply
  11. lmao, i can completely relate to this, a-levels is no joke especially when combining as and a level together. Every second counts. I am in my final yr of uni, and i still have not taken an exam as tedious as the a-level exam!!!! remember burning the candle at night, and reading on the way to college!, it pays off at the end trust me, however, I wouldnt personally reccomend doing the A levels in 9 months!!!!!!! it’s not worth the hassle!

    Reply
  12. Well, this is a good website for people doing A level. It has really motivate me. But it’s sometimes hard to get this grade, I mean A’s in all the three courses.

    Reply
  13. majirioghene@yahoo.com · Edit

    Azeez, I very much doubt it if you could make three As on your own, unless you must be some kind of nerd or a prodigy. Attend classes in a good school and apply some of the things we said in this essay.

    Good luck, Azzy.

    Reply

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