We’ve all been there. The teacher hands out the marked papers and your heart drops. Faster than you can say ‘U’, you shove the marking sheet into the bottom of your crusty school bag never to be seen again.
Or maybe you’re one of the lucky ones: the mark comes back and it’s a happy surprise. You show your mum, try your best not to brag to your friends, crack and brag to your friends, and then eventually shove the paper into a folder, never to be thought of again 💁 .
We believe that one of the worst mistakes you can make during your A-Levels is ignoring these marks. No matter what the number or grade on the paper was, it is the best source you have for improving your marks. Every mark tells you something.
So, here are our tips on how to listen to your marks to ensure A-Level success!
1. If your marks are bad...
First things first, marks are pretty relative. So, unless your mark is far below what the people around you are getting, a ‘bad’ mark is just one that doesn’t meet your own expectations.
And getting a bad mark isn’t all bad, because bad marks tell you a lot more than good marks ever will. Yep, sometimes it’s good to be bad 😈 .
That’s because getting bad marks is a fast (albeit painful) way to discover your weaknesses. Bad marks slap you in the face, and it’s almost as if the exam is screaming ‘you need to study these topics more!’, or ‘you’re not good at long response answers, so fix it!’
Here’s the important bit: you must listen to your bad marks, because they’re great at pinpointing your areas of concern. That means you don’t have to do much more thinking about what you need to focus on more when you’re studying.
Also, bad marks are a pretty clear indication that whatever you did to prepare for your assessment did not work - or that you weren’t trying hard enough 👎 . Whether you decided to try some funky new learning technique where you listen to your notes while you sleep or whether you just thought you could get it all done in one weekend, you definitely need to rethink your approach and change up your study method before the next assessment.
But, getting things wrong is the best way to make sure you don’t get anything wrong next time, so don’t fret too much and instead listen to your bad mark!
2. If your marks are good...
On the other hand, if you’re one of the lucky ones that did really well in the assessment, you more or less know the opposite things.
You know that you’re confident with that type of assessment, that you know your content for those topics pretty well, and that you might not need to pay as much attention to those areas in future. I mean, you’ll want to make sure you’re still on top of these bits every so often, but you probably won’t need to devote loads more time. Save your breath because you got this 👏 .
Good marks also tell you that whatever prep you did this time worked. So, all you have to do next time is rinse and repeat. Maybe you can even apply the way you prepped to other assessments or subjects!
Anyway, it’s a pretty good place to be, but don’t let your smugness stop you from taking these things away from your mark.
3. Pick out the trends
Regardless of how you keep doing in your assessments, you should always try to learn from your results. By keeping tabs on how you are doing in each assessment and actually analysing how you got on, you can pick up on a lot of trends that inform how you study.
For example, you might notice that you keep running out of time in your Maths papers, or that you seem to do really well in the 5-6 marker but you always get killed in the 15 marker. You could notice that questions on fractional distillation in Chemistry always get you or that you always seem to be dropping your marks in multiple choice.
All these insights are gems 💎 . You can use these trends to see where you need to focus your energy and how you should be practising. If you’re losing marks on those 15 markers, guess what you should be doing for your study before the next exam…
4. It’s brutal and exposing
The best (and worst) thing about getting your marks back is that it’s brutal and it’s exposing. But there is nowhere to run and hide and there is no way you can afford to deny it. Like Phoebe in Friends says (watch from 0:55), you have to rip off the plaster and expose the wound.
There is nothing more motivating or clear than being shown exactly how well or badly you did. It straight up shows you whether you are on the track to get your desired mark, whether you’re going to blitz it, or whether you’ve got a lot more Atomi to be watching 💻 .
Long story short: don’t crawl up in the corner wanting to die when you see your teacher walk in with that stack of exam papers. Embrace it. Don’t let the paper fester in the bottom of your bag. Pull it out, open it up and start analysing it as much as possible. Trust us, you’ll thank yourself for it later on.
And don’t worry, all wounds eventually heal 🤕 .