Tis’ the season to be jolly, but you don’t want to be so caught up in fun and games that you throw everything that you’ve learnt the past year down the drain (especially when they’re things that are still going to be tested at your O Level or A Level examinations)! In this article, discover the best methods for studying during the holidays with Zenith. With these ten tips, you will definitely be ready to bring your A-game when preparing for the O Level or A Level examinations during the school year!
Tip #1: Get organised and create a study plan for the holidays.
Making study part of your regular routine helps to ensure that you don’t lose the momentum that you’ve built up over the past academic year. Especially for students who are taking their O Level or A Level examinations in the upcoming year, staying in the groove of studying will make picking up your books when school reopens less of a hefty task. Your study plan does not have to be jam-packed, nor do you have to spend 3 days a week buried in your textbooks at the library.
Instead, you simply have to set aside an hour or two each day. Cut out all distractions for that protected period of time and apply yourself diligently to the revision or lesson preparation you’ve planned for. You might be surprised at how much you can achieve in a span of two hours! It is completely possible to tick multiple things off your to-do list if you study smart and stay focused.
Rest is still part of the holiday agenda, and you should definitely spend the time to recharge. Your rest time will feel better and you’ll be more relaxed if you are assured that you’ve done the work you’re supposed to do in preparation for the O or A Level examinations. For early risers, you can get your two hours of study out of the way every morning. For night owls, you might want to hunker down and get the time in every night. Either way, commit to your plan, and study when you know you are most productive! Over a month, you’d have accumulated 60 hours of study towards your O or A Levels examinations just by spending 2 hours at your study table daily.
Tip #2: Make a checklist of the things you have to cover.
Make a list of the topics for each subject that you want to cover during the holidays. Create checkboxes beside each of these topics. You can also prioritise the topics that you want to cover first by colour-coding your list. Put high-priority topics, such as those you find more challenging, in red. Less urgent topics can be categorised in yellow and those that are optional can be put in green. This way, you won’t be overwhelmed with the number of things you have to do, which can be a lot when you’re preparing for the O Level or A Level examinations. Do what is the most urgent first, and then slowly work down the list.
Checklists are an effective study tool because they help you to stay organised, productive and motivated. It tells you what exactly you need to do, and because many people find it so irksome to leave their lists unticked, this can help you to stay on track. If you love bullet journalling and jazzing up your lists, feel free to indulge in that––it can be very therapeutic for some to make aesthetic-looking checklists! However, if you’re not one for crafting, a simple list can do the job just as well. Making a habit of list-making (and abiding by your lists) is a lifesaver for many students at the O Levels and A Level examinations as it helps you to stay absolutely sure that you’re not missing out on that one crucial topic from your revision plan. Take note not to cram your lists with too many things! It defeats the purpose of resting and getting yourself well geared for the O Level or A Level examinations.
Tip #3: Revise material from the past academic year.
Over the course of the year, across all your subjects, students would have learnt a lot of new material. Your end-of-year examinations might not have tested you on all the topics that you’ve studied but the O Level and A Level examinations will definitely test you on everything that’s listed as examinable in the syllabus. Zenith advocates building a strong foundation in Secondary 3 and JC1 such that students have an easier time when they finally encounter the O Level and A Level examinations respectively. This is especially important as many topics in Secondary 4 and JC2 are built on concepts taught in the previous year. For instance, Matter is the central theme of A Level H2 Chemistry, whereas both H1 and H2 A Level Economics are founded on Scarcity as the Central Economic Problem. Having a strong foundation is thus imperative to students’ performance in the year leading up to their O Level or A Level examinations. Taking the time during your holidays to ensure your understanding of key concepts will make life much easier in the coming academic year. Consistent revision also prevents you from becoming “rusty” or forgetting important theories. With so little time in your O Level or A Level year, you don’t want to have to re-learn anything from scratch.
Tip #4: Focus more effort on your weaker topics.
It is normal that, among the countless topics and subtopics that you’ve encountered in a year, students feel more confident in some more than others. As Singapore’s top JC and secondary tuition center, Zenith has had countless students pass through our doors. While all of them are sitting for the same O Level or A Level examination, most of them feel differently about what they’re studying. You might just love Electrolysis, your friend might detest it while having a burning passion for Organic Chemistry, which just isn’t up your alley. That’s completely normal––all of us have our own preferences.
However, perhaps much to your dismay, the O Level and A Level examinations are still going to test you on the topics that you do not like. Zenith knows that it can be difficult and dreadful to work on topics that you’re weaker in or have no affinity with, but the holidays can be a great time for you to strengthen your understanding of your weaker topics. Becoming more adept at a topic can also engender a greater liking towards it. You’ll also have more time during the holidays, and less of that added stress that comes from knowing that you are having an examination in 3 days. It is important that you utilise the time that you have to clarify any existing misunderstandings that you have, as you don’t want to bring your doubts into the new academic year. School material typically gets harder each year; you are not going to have the time to grapple with the previous year’s work when the new school year starts. Left piling up, your doubts will only come to haunt you the next time your assessments roll around.
Tip #5: Set goals for the upcoming academic year.
“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” —Pablo Picasso
Goal-setting is crucial to success at the O Level and A Level examinations; you want to be marching towards success, not away from it! Knowing exactly which subjects you need to invest more time in, and how you can improve your studying methods, will allow you to walk into your classroom with the right mindset and purpose. For example, if you know that you need to brush up your command of the English language, you might want to start a word bank and actively take down any new words your teacher introduces in class.
Remember that your goals should be quantifiable. Admittedly, this can create some pressure, but Africa’s first female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was quoted as saying, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.” You should be pushing your boundaries to secure that highly coveted ‘A’ during the O Level and A Level examinations! For instance, if I’m struggling with the A Level H2 Chemistry MCQ, my goal might be to get 25 out of 30 questions right for the second assessment of the year. Simply saying “I want to improve” won’t cut it. In the long run, it may become antithetical to the progress you are seeking to achieve.
Tip #6: Get a head start by reviewing material for the upcoming academic year.
It is often difficult to jump headfirst into the deep end. This is even more so for things you have to master for the O Level or A Level examinations, which can be quite complex. Most students struggle at the start of the new year when they realise that they have no idea what they’re in for during the upcoming term. Your brain is more well-situated to absorb information when it is primed and knows what to expect. This is exactly why Zenith finds it is so important for you to at least look through the syllabus for each of your subjects during the holidays. You can and should mentally prepare yourself for what is to come in the next year.
Tip #7: Work with others.
Friends are for having fun with… but they’re also for hustling hard with! It can be incredibly difficult to study alone during the holidays if you just know that all your friends are hanging out at the movies or rollerblading at the park. While it is important to spend quality time with your friends, it is also extremely important to motivate each other to study in the year leading up to your O Level or A Level examinations. Form study groups with one another! Since all of Zenith’s locations in Singapore have dedicated study areas with snack bars, students can feel free to camp at our centers to study and do their revision. For the homebodies, Zoom’s also a trend now! You can get online, hop on a call with your friends, and study virtually with one another. If you are looking for more help, you can also book a consultation with your dedicated Zenith tutor, either online or in person.
Tip #8: Declutter your space and mind.
Removing distractions often does a world of wonders to an individual’s productivity level. Your environment can either positively or negatively impact your productivity. You should make sure that your table is not littered with snacks and that you’re not studying with your favourite Netflix show playing in the background. That being said, you can still listen to some music that enhances focus. Spotify has a whole genre of music categorised under “Study”. Playlists such as this one, with nearly 17 hours of Lofi music, are sure to help you stay focused. For those who prefer quiet environments, camping out at Zenith, your community club’s study room, or even in school might be good options. The key is that your mind should be focused on the task at hand.
Tip #9: Attend useful tuition and enrichment classes.
Many students might dread the idea of going for extra classes during their holidays, but the truth is that those extra two hours of class can be both extremely helpful and really fun! At Zenith, our classes are designed to be engaging, palatable and interesting for all our students. Our classrooms are a safe space for conducive learning, productive discussion and the sharing of knowledge. Moreover, our young and engaging tutors make it a point to make their lessons relevant to your daily life. Our students have great things to say about how our meticulously curated lessons have helped them improve by leaps and bounds (Figs 1 and 2). Zenith boasts an A rate almost 2x the national average, with our JC students collectively achieving a 70+% distinction rate and 95+% A/B rate. See also how our awesome welfare (Fig 3.) makes coming to classes less of a chore! With Zenith, it doesn’t have to be dull or boring at all to spend your time productively during the holidays.
Fig 1. Zenith’s testimonials from students who have benefitted from our lessons
Fig 2. Our students’ Promo/Prelim results for 2021
Fig 3. Zenith’s Sept/Oct Welfare Report––See more on and follow our Instagram @learnatzenith today!
Tip #10: Cultivate a good balance of study and play.
This is important because you don’t want to be losing your mojo before the new academic year has even started! Here are 10 study hacks for you to boost your productivity. At Zenith, we believe in working smart. Utilising your time more effectively means that you are able to complete all the work that you have to do in a shorter period of time, leaving more time for rest and recreation. It isn’t rocket science, everyone only has 24 hours a day; everything is about how you use the time you have. The students who end up acing the O Level and A Level examinations are typically also those who are able to manage their time well, such that they can still indulge in their hobbies, spend time with their loved ones and never burn the midnight oil the night before their examinations. This is as nobody can study for days on end for the last two months leading up to their examinations without feeling some sort of burnout––pacing yourself well, getting into the game early, and going for an “early bird catches the worm” mentality can help you to be in your best condition during the O Level or A Level examinations. Learn how to manage your stress with Zenith here.
In sum, here are 10 tried-and-tested tips from Zenith which will set you up for success at the O Level and A Level examinations:
- Create a bulletproof study plan
- Find out how to plan your revision plan for the A Level examinations here
- Find out what you should do the week before your O Level or A Level examinations here
- Make a checklist of the things you have to cover
- Revise material from the past academic year
- Focus more effort on your weaker topics
- Set goals for the upcoming academic year
- Get a head start by reviewing material for the upcoming academic year
- Work with others
- Declutter your space and mind
- Attend useful tuition and enrichment classes
- Cultivate a good balance of study and play
Want to be part of the fun-loving Zenith family? We are more than happy to have you (and your friends) be part of our warm and friendly community of students who work hard, play hard and laugh a lot in class! Find out more about our top secondary and JC tuition programmes, and sign up for a free trial lesson today.