How to

ACE Your

A-Levels

Inspired by student success stories, we tell you what your teachers don’t

Updated for 2019-2021 Exams!

About The Book

How to ACE Your A-Levels contains a 3-step plan that shows you what, when and how to revise.

Step 1 is ‘Method’. We tell you what top students do to secure top marks in exams. Here we cover repetition theory, the most effective memorisation techniques and discuss how to tailor your learning technique to the subjects you are taking.

 

Step 2 is the ‘Study Cycle’. For years we’ve heard the term ‘work hard’ thrown around with no explanation. I believe ‘working hard’ is a skill in itself which must be understood and practiced as much as any A level subject. Here we provide case studies and examples of other students and their day to day habits during the academic year to help you gauge how much is enough.

Step 3 is ‘Motivation’. This section provides the fuel for the ‘Study Cycle’. We show you how to increase your attention span through simple and effective tricks. Furthermore, we discuss the damaging insecurities that hold you back from reaching your maximum potential and help you tackle them head on.

 

Read this book and arm yourself with techniques that will help you ACE any exam.

What’s inside

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Case based research

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3-step study strategy

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Focus hacks

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Learning psychology

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Memory techniques

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Revision planning tips

Introduction

You know those skinny Indian kids who look like they are too young to have a moustache? That was me in high school and unsurprisingly I didn’t sit too high up on the social food chain. This would have been ok if I was a top student because I’d only have toendure a few awkward years in high school. Then I could have a future filled with a great career, money and women. Unfortunately,I wasn’t good at exams either!

After waving goodbye to high school with pretty mediocre GCSEs, I started my AS levels at a new school with a new found determination. Achieving good grades and getting into university meant everything to me. So I made a real effort throughout the year. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough. Despite working hard and listening to my teachers, on AS level results day, I ended up with Ds and Us – Brilliant!

I joke about it now but those grades really hurt. After results day I went straight home, ran up to my room, sat on my bed, looked at the floor and whispered to myself… “What is wrong with me? Why am I so rubbish? I’m clearly not intelligent enough. It must be my genetics. Look at my Biology grade – do I even know what genetics means?!!”

To make matters worse, 70% of the grades achieved at my school were B or above and all of my friends did really well. Even the front pages of all the newspapers showed a nationwide improvement.

People kept asking me how my exams went and I felt so embarrassed about telling them. Others gave me sympathy and advice when I didn’t even ask for it. I knew they meant well but all it did was make me feel even worse!

What now?

There were a bunch of questions running through my head at the time. Should I give up and do a vocational course? Or get a job somewhere and work my way up? My teachers, some friends and even my own family were subtly encouraging me to consider these options too. It just didn’t feel right. I had to give it one more go.

My entire life I had held this belief that no matter how hard I tried, I just wasn’t capable at succeeding. Not only at school, but also everything else. Sports, music, art and pretty much everything I tried. Maybe I wasn’t as good as these A and A* students around me but I would never know for sure unless I really tried this time.

For the first time, it didn’t become about getting into university or my future career, just about proving it to myself. If I put all my energy and efforts into preparing for exams, and still didn’t achieve the grades I wanted then fair enough. Fine, then I’d lower my expectations and stop dreaming about becoming a doctor or successful businessman. However, if I did succeed, then I’d know for a fact that I was the issue and not my capabilities. I needed to find out for myself and that is what motivated me to retake almost all my first year exams in year 13 alongside all the rest of my exams.

The game plan

Over the next few weeks, I researched everything I could about studying and exams. From reading books about memory retention to speaking with successful and experienced students. From this I produced a set of goals and a written game plan.

Goals and plans were nothing new to me. I’d made plenty before without acting on them, but this time it was different. I believed in my plan and, as I started preparing for the next set of exams, I could see evidence that it was working. The sting of my previous results combined with the early signs of progress created momentum that stayed with me the entire year. By study leave the following year, I had executed my strategy and walked into most of my exams with much more confidence.

This time on results day I left with straight As with many module marks exceeding 90%. It was one of the biggest turn arounds some of my teachers had ever seen. My parents and friends were completely shocked!

At university, I used the same principles and techniques again, and it worked. I left UCL with a first-class honours in chemical engineering. My results were in the top 5 percent of the year and I was awarded with a certificate of academic excellence by the Dean of students.

Ever since completing my A-Levels countless students approached me for help. It started with friends and family, but as word spread, random people began contacting me for guidance. Everyone who used my approach improved their grades and future prospects.

As demand increased, it became obvious that schools were falling short when it came to study skills and motivating their students.

Eventually I decided to gather all the golden nuggets I had built up over the years and put them into one resource. How to ACE Your A-Levels was born!

Since publishing this book, it has been a consistent Amazon #1 best seller year on year and has sold thousands of copies. We have been inundated with messages from students across the globe thanking us for our help. It only takes a glance at our reviews on Amazon, testimonials on Facebook or comments on YouTube to realise how effective this approach is.

What’s in the book?

On the surface, How to ACE Your A-Levels is a strategy book that will show you how to achieve As and A*s in your exams. My 3-step plan will describe how to:

1. Plan your revision from now until exams

2. Use learning techniques that work

3. Choose the correct resources to learn from

4. Tailor your study technique to the subjects you are taking

5. Improve your daily routine and habits

6. Maintain your motivation right up till exams

Beneath the surface, this book is about how to bounce back from disappointment and create a winning attitude. Till this day, whenever I find myself in a deep hole (I’ve been in a fair few!), I still think back to my A-Levels. This is because it was the first time I took matters into my own hands, backed my ability and won. The experience left me with a tenacious personality and a pit-bull type resilience that I wouldn’t trade for any amount of intelligence.

That’s the real reason why all the late nights, hours of work and pressure of exams are worth it. Getting good grades, into a top university and securing a dream career are by-product of a winning mind set. This is what I hope you achieve after finishing this book!

My goal is to not only show you the door, but also inform and inspire you to a point that it’s almost impossible not to walk through it and achieve your dreams.

Thank you for reading How to ACE Your A-Levels and trusting my guidance!

Books sold

5* Amazon reviews

100% would recommend to anyone who is struggling with their A-Level studies. The book gives you great detail on how to succeed.

Andrew Sheppard

 

After reading this book I now find it so much easier to learn the content

Anneliese May

 

I collected my results last week and I achieved distinction *, A, A. I moved from an E at AS to an A at A2. Thanks to this book, it helped me change my whole mindset to my goals in life and also taught me how to revise.

Atiya Khan

106 Comments

  1. Somiya Shabir

    hi, i’ve tried to buy the book but when i go and click on the basket after it says its in there, it isn’t.
    I’ve tried it on 2 devices and still there is problem

    Reply
    • Shreena

      Hi Somiya,
      We’re having issues with the site at the moment. Please can you purchase on Amazon.
      Thanks

      Reply
  2. Somiya Shabir

    Hello, I’ve just started a levels in september and I want to buy this book.
    Does this book cover all the A level subjects that have changed?

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Somiya. Yes it does.

      Reply
      • Somiya Shabir

        I’ve tried to buy the book but when i go and click on the basket after it says its in there, it isn’t.
        I’ve tried it on 2 devices and still there is problem

        Reply
  3. Osman

    Hello. I Purchased this book.about a month ago, and I would like to ask you that.during Layer 1 Do we have to do Past Papers or only do we have to start doing them in Layer 2?
    BTW can we do Topical Past Papers in Layer 1 after finishing a topic per subject?

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Osman,
      If you are still on layer 1 you should start completing past papers from now. You can do questions related to the topics you covered in your first layer. However, keep 2 or 3 (2015/2016/2017) untouched past papers for when you finish your entire first layer.
      I hope that helps.
      Raja

      Reply
  4. Lewis

    Hello, lately I’ve been doing my layered revision for my subjects. I’m learning and absorbing information using the techniques just like I did for my GCSEs. In biology after each topic, we have tests to see how we’re going. I feel ok answering questions and usually get the answers right, however I answer it in a way that does not get me the marks. My teacher explained that I have to be really specific when writing down my answer. I’ve practiced at home but I’m still underachieving, I don’t what I’m doing wrong. Additionally we have mocks in January and they count for 30% of my predicted grade at the end of year 13 which determines whether universities will accept me or not.
    Thankyou

    Reply
  5. Billy

    Hi Raja,
    I’m a term into my AS and I’ve only just got your book and started to use the scribble technique. However when I scribble the information down, what should I do with these notes? Should I keep them for future revision or just throw them away?
    Thanks
    Billy

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Billy,
      Thanks for reading our book. After using the scribble technique, there is no need to keep the notes as you will be revising using your learning material/verified textbook in your next layer.
      I hope that helps.
      Thanks,
      Anshul

      Reply
  6. Sophie Evans

    Hi Raja,
    I have just started my first year of sixth form and I am a little confused on the details of the ‘power layer.’ Do I do this the same time as my other layers or take a break with my first to fit it in my timetable?
    Thank you

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Sophie,
      Thanks for reading my book and your question. Starting the layered learning time table during your first year will give you a big advantage. Most people complete their first year, underachieve, panic and then start using the techniques in the book. Well done for being proactive! The power layer is simply learning subject material before your teacher has taught it in class and is generally a term I use for those in year 13.
      If you create your layered learning timetable as I’ve showed, you will naturally complete a few power layers over the next few months.
      Say, for example, you are studying Biology and there are 20 bullet points in your syllabus. Your teacher has covered bullet points 1 and 2 out of 20 in the syllabus since the start of term. There are 18 left. In your free periods, evenings and weekends you will cover the all the bullet points (1-20) using the techniques in How to ACE Your A-Levels. By October, you would have covered all 20 bullet points while the teacher will still be on say bullet point 8. By finishing this first layer faster than your teacher, you will be walking into lessons already knowing most of the information being taught. Hearing your teacher explain the concepts out loud will reaffirm all the information you covered beforehand and help your understanding. Covering all the information on your own by reading/scribbling then going over it again by listening to your teacher (in that order) creates the power layer.
      Sounds difficult, but I managed to do 2 power layers in my second year and achieved 91% and 98% in the final exams. I’ve received a lot of good feedback from others who’ve completed power layers too.
      I hope that helps.
      Raja

      Reply
  7. Amy Green

    Hello,
    Just finished reading your book and I am planning out my layers. When would you advise to do end of chapter questions from the exam board text book. Would I do this in layer 1 or 2? I am in 2nd year so timing is key.
    Many thanks
    Amy

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Amy,
      Thanks for reading my book and for your question. End of chapter questions in your verified textbooks should be completed as part of all the layers especially for method & understanding subjects. Try and complete at least half of the textbook questions in the first layer.
      Raja

      Reply
  8. Lizzy Wood

    Hi Mr Raja,
    I am in exactly the same position that you were after your AS levels.
    Your book has really helped me and I am hoping to start my power layer next week.
    I have mock exams covering AS and A2 after the Christmas holidays and so I have worked out that I have 12 weeks for layer 1. I study chemistry and biology and don’t know how to split this up over the 12 weeks. I have 17 chapters of Biology and 19 chapters of chemistry to learn in this time. How would you recommend diving this up over the 12 weeks?
    Thank you, I would really appreciate your advice.
    Lizzy

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Lizzy,
      Thanks for reading my book and I’m glad it has helped you. Your question:
      I study chemistry and biology and don’t know how to split this up over the 12 weeks. I have 17 chapters of Biology and 19 chapters of chemistry to learn in this time. How would you recommend diving this up over the 12 weeks?
      The answer is to simply divide the number of subjects by weeks so that comes to 3. You should try to complete 3 chapters per week over that period (which is pretty doable).
      I hope that helps!
      Raja

      Reply
  9. Reema

    Hi,
    I want to take A Level Chemistry, Maths and Biology and I’m thinking of going into Chemical Engineering and I don’t want to take A Level Physics because I hate Physics and I know I won’t put the effort in. Will I be at a disadvantage when I go to Uni, and will Unis consider me as a suitable applicant even though I didn’t take Physics? How was A Level Physics for you? Did you use the scribble technique for Physics?

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Reema,
      Thanks for your question. I was in the same position as you! I wanted to do Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry and Maths. However, we weren’t allowed to do Human Biology and Biology so I reluctantly opted for Physics. During year 12, I was a little bitter about having to do it and wasn’t really taking it seriously. As a result, I got my worst grade in AS Physics out of all the subjects. However, in second year when I knuckled down and started using the 3 step plan, it became my favourite subject. Some of the highest marks I received were in Physics exams. Ever since then, I’ve developed an interest in that area.
      It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but even now I geek out and follow the latest developments in Physics. From finding the God particle using the Hadron Collider to everything Elon Musk is doing! Anyway my point is – give it a chance. You might surprise yourself!
      I hope that helps.
      Raja

      Reply
  10. Lily

    Hi Mr Raja,
    I have read your book and started my 1st layer. Hopefully I will be finished by the end of february or in the first week of march. I can recall you saying either in your book or in the comments that you could cover 20 pages per hour in your 1st layer so I wanted to ask how did you manage to do so? Because I can cover only 4 or 5 pages per hour which means I must be doing something wrong. Do you think I focus too much on the details? Also, my mock exams are coming up and I have done 1st layer for one of the exams but because it’s only 1st layer I’m scared that by the time the mock comes I will forget everything. Is it normal or again, I’m doing something wrong?
    I’m looking forward to your reply.

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Lily,
      Thanks for reading my book and for your question. I only managed to hit 20 sides after weeks and weeks of practice. 4 to 5 pages an hour is normal when you are starting out but try to push for 8 pages an hour. While scribbling, many people try to remember information exactly how they saw it in the textbook – this is incorrect and will waste time. When you close the book, try to remember the key points or anything that stood out to you. After starting this way, more and more pieces of the information you read will start appearing – almost snow-balling. Hopefully this should improve your retention and speed.
      I hope this helps!
      Raja

      Reply
  11. AehKay

    Hello,
    I know you most be very busy but I still thought to try and get your attention.
    I’m always running out of time when it comes to revision and so by the time it gets to the tests the school gives to assess, I am not prepared and get low marks. I know i am capable of doing it but my strategy seems to mean that i always am behind. This is something that is making my a levels very difficult.
    I don’t know how to make the best routine in terms of a time table. One that fits well with what i would have tomorrow in school, and where i am able to complete homework before class. I’m trying to create a time table for home which enables me to pre study what will be studied in class and complete homework and revision on time before the tests etc. That way when the topics are studied in class i would have already covered them at home and be at an advantage.
    Also i am organised but i dont feel peaceful in my mind as i’m always asking myself, hmm should i scrap this current technique and use this other technique. In terms of note taking, paper, exercise book, rewriting notes etc.
    I sent a message on your facebook page about this. I need some guidance on how to tackle all the issues. I really am sorry if its something you either keep hearing. I really want to feel like i’m on top of my work with a levels and progressing. Without always having the excuse i couldnt revise everything for this test etc.
    Regards

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi,
      Thanks for your question. When it comes to planning at this stage, you need to pick one strategy and stick to it without second guessing. Use the scribble technique for all your memory and learning subjects as shown in How to ACE Your A-Levels. If your school sets you a lot of homework, it can be difficult to fit in the layered learning timetable. However, at this stage, you simply have to make the time to ensure you complete at least 1 layer for each subject. This may mean working late or on weekends and squeezing work into all the nooks and crannies in the day. That’s what I had to do because of the sheer number of exams I had to take in A2 summer.
      I hope this helps!
      Raja

      Reply
    • Mike

      I have just received my AS results. and they were not looking too good. I received a B,D,D,E in psychology, physics, chemistry and math’s respectively. I am able to attend year 13 however it means I have to drop maths, as my school says that you should get a D in AS to continue learning it, but I want to apply for an engineering course for university where a high mathematics predicted grade is required. I am currently looking for methods to continue maths (most likely by changing schools). I might even retake the maths exams to see if it could boost my future predicted grade. I wanted to ask if there are any ways to persuade my current school into allowing me to continue maths and if resists affect the chance of you getting into your desired University for example Loughborough or UCL.

      Reply
      • academicunderdogs2

        Hi Mike,

        Thanks for your message. How far off were you from a D in maths? If I were you, I’d create a written plan outlining how you will improve all of your grades. This plan should have 3 sections:

        1. When you should revise? – layered learning timetable

        2. What you should revise? – List all revision material you’re going to learn from

        3. How you will prepare for exams going forward? – Scribble technique/picture association/mind mapping/distracking etc

        Go directly to your headmaster with this and show them that you’re organised/serious about improving. They will never have seen a student take this type of initiative before, and it might just be enough to change their mind.

        If they say no, get your parents involved and see if that works.

        If all of the above fails, take Maths at an independent college and learn it on your own (that’s what I’d do).

        If you need any help with the written plan, feel free to book a 10 minute slot with me here – https://10to8.com/book/bbisjezqyllahuvoob/

        Thanks,
        Raja

        Reply
  12. Hamza afzal

    Hello Mr Raja
    I have bought your book and have read it thoroughly. However I’m on my first layer and I have missed out u it’s because I do not have not time. As I work 6 days a week. Go to school come back at 4:00 and go straight to work which makes me have no time at all and I am starting to really stress out and I don’t know what to do. Also I have prelims coming up in January and I haven’t even finished the whole textbooks for any of the 5 subjects that I have done. I don’t know what to do could you please help me out because I don’t k ow if I should revise or should keep doing my layers because I have my practice exams which I need to set the actual exam.

    Reply
    • Raji

      Hi I am a gcse student and I am failing my exams
      Please could you put a free pdf link to your book
      I really need it

      Reply
      • Academic Underdogs

        Hi Raji,
        Thanks for your interest. Unfortunately, we don’t offer free versions of the book. However, you can download a free PDF containing interviews with students who turned their D’s into A’s on this page – http://www.AcademicUnderdogs.com/AceYourAlevels
        Thanks
        Raja

        Reply
  13. Sandra

    Hi
    I have read your previous comments and I saw that you recommend finishing 1st layer by the end of February. So does that mean I should know all the material before starting 1st layer or is it okay if I cover it for the very first time? I’m not quite sure if it makes sense to you.. I have actually planned my repetition revision timetable yesterday where I planned to start my 1st layer by the end of February but now having read the comments I should finish it by then. The reason why I have planned to do it by the end is because I thought you should cover all the material first by making notes etc. and then start 1st layer using ST. Hope I didn’t confuse you.
    Thanks,
    Sandra

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Sandra,
      Thanks for your question. I don’t recommend taking notes for subjects where exam board approved textbooks are available for any layer including the first one. So to answer your question, use the ST and not note-taking for the first layer.
      Raja

      Reply
  14. Sagar Joshi

    Hello, Raja
    I finished my AS and now I am in A2’s. I do Maths, Computer Science and IT, for Computer Science there aren’t any past papers. Also, I have to remember and understand many things from the book itself. It is taking me quite long to learn this. I read your Scribble Technique method but I am just not too sure on how to properly make use of it.What should I do ? Also, I got a B in Maths and I want my teachers to predict me an A but they think I can’t do it. I am still trying to convince them but it’s just getting too stressful now. If I want to go to a Uni with requirement grades AAB or ABB and if I do not get those grades is it even worth applying there? I m just not too sure on this and it’s getting very stressful to a point where I can’t think straight and study.
    Thanks
    Sagar

    Reply
  15. Mark James

    Hi,
    I just have a question, I seen your comments on here and created a revision timetable over the half term where I calculated the time I have between now and the end of Feb and created a revision timetable around it. I started this Monday but what I realised is in the first rep I haven’t given myself enough time, it feels like im rushing through everything and not processing it in and given myself too much time in the 2nd rep, more than in the first. If I was re starting now would this be okay:
    Complete all first reps by the end of March
    2nd repetitions to be done in the months April and May, roughly 60 days, 10 days per exam with 6 exams I have
    3rd rep to be done between exams
    Would this be okay? Just hope from next week I can stick to it

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Mark,
      Thanks for your question and reading my book. Ideally you want all first reps to be done by end of Feb. But given that you only have 6 exams the timetable you suggested should be OK.
      Thanks,
      Anshul

      Reply
  16. Hira Khawaja

    Hello Mr Raja
    I wanted to ask how can i revise for exams, when I have mock exam as well, wont I have to stop my layered revision plan to revise for upcoming mocks/assessments.
    And also how I should catch up with my revision and how do you incorporate the power layer because I have read the book but I got confused as how can I fit in the layer revision with revision for upcoming exams as every night I only have 4hours to spare to do.

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Hira,
      Thanks for reading my book and your question. Do your mock exams count for anything? Are they important? If not, my advice would be to continue your layered learning timetable and by then hopefully you should have finished a first layer for one or two subjects. You should see a significant difference between the marks of subjects you completed your first layer for and those you are still working through. That’s what happened to me and I found it very motivating to see that my plan was working.
      To incorporate the power layer, you simply complete the first layer on a topic or group of topics that haven’t yet been taught in class. Ask your teachers what they are going to teach next term and complete it now. Does that make sense?
      Raja

      Reply
  17. Charlotte Perry

    Hi raja
    I’ve just started A-Levels and I was wondering if because of the new two year course for A- Levels, that I might need to revise differently for the two years. Previously, I understand that I would have to revise fully the first year, for the AS exam and then again for the second year A2, with slightly different material. However now it is all the same material for one exam at the end of both years and I’m not sure if the same strategy applies.
    I hope you can understand my thoughts and would be grateful for any helpful suggestions.
    Thank you

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Charlotte,
      Thanks for your interest and reading my book. Waiting to start the layered learning time table in your A2 year is risky business and will make your life much harder. It’s best to start it from now and spread your revision over the 2 years. I recommend allocating approximately a month per exam and using the techniques in the book.
      Raja

      Reply
      • Charlotte Perry

        Thank you very much for your response! Your suggestions are very helpful and I will use this timing plan.

        Reply
      • Somiya

        Hi when I press the checkout button after putting my details in, it says there is an error. Please help

        Reply
        • academicunderdogs2

          Hi Somiya, Please try again. We now also have an offer on! Thanks

          Reply
  18. varun

    Hi, I have read your book and just have a couple of questions:
    1. If I was going to start now how would I structure the timetable? When do I need to finish the first rep by? My first exam is on the 7th of June and final one the 29th, I have 6 exams.
    2. When should I be doing practice questions and analysis? All my subjects are essay based (English Lang, Lit & sociology)
    3. For english language I have a text book but if I’m honest it seems like there’s too much information, should i persist with it?

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Varun,
      Thanks for reading my book and for your questions.
      1. Calculate the total number of days between now and end of February. Then divide that by the total number of exams you have. This will give you the number of days you have per subject for your first layer.
      2. Complete the practice questions in your verified textbooks/learning material as part of your first layer.
      3. The textbook only helps so much for English language. There is so much more to it. Which textbook is it?
      Raja

      Reply
      • varun

        Thanks for the reply. It’s the official textbook for AQA, the exam board I am doing. I thought I did a full repetition for it using the exam board but coming to do a mock paper didn’t do well, how else can I revise for it? I will have to re do the whole rep, I have my classroom book but bar that can’t think of anything else.
        Also for english language, I am in year 13 now, the year 13 paper is split into 2 parts, part 1 is all the work we covered in year 12 which is quite familiar to me now but as mentioned having trouble recapping it and part 2 is the year 13 work, is it best to split up the revision for this exam and don’t start revising the year 13 work until it’s actually been fully taught in class? Because teaching it to myself seems rather daunting.

        Reply
  19. Ahad Hameed

    Hi Raja,
    I sent you something on your email you gave us in the workshop have a look when you can 😀
    Thanks

    Reply
  20. Ahad Hameed

    Quick question raja, what time does the A level workshop start tomorrow?

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Ahad,
      Th workshop starts at 14:00 but please be there for 13:45. Does it state this time on your ticket?
      Thanks,
      Raja

      Reply
      • Ahad hameed

        I printed one a couple weeks back and it said time 14:00-17:00 but registration time was 9:45
        I printed one yesterday and it says registration 13:50
        Im quite confused

        Reply
  21. Moizz Ahmed

    Hi raja,
    I have read your book and it has inspired me to do well. I am just confused that when am I meant to use the sciribble technique? Is it for the different layers. Also how do I revise maths as the you can not use the scribble technique. So before I use the sciribble technique I need to understand everything.

    Reply
    • Moizz Ahmed

      When I use the scribble technique how often should I read the notes.

      Reply
      • Academic Underdogs

        After using the scribble technique, discard the notes and use the textbook again in your second layer

        Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Moizz,
      Did you come to the workshop?
      Raja

      Reply
  22. Raj

    Hey raja quick question, I am starting A2 with poor AS grade and I wanted to know I haven’t started an A2 power layer how can I incorporate this whilst revising for AS and A2 as my subjects are linear and have the synoptic paper style. Also I am studying biology, psychology and sociology. I am hoping to start this technique right away however I am confused as to how to incorporate the A2 power topics as I read your book like two days ago.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Raj,
      Thanks for reading my book. Ask your teacher for their teaching plan as soon as you can. This way you can do a power layer on the topics they start teaching around Jan/Feb.
      Thanks,
      Raja

      Reply
      • Raj

        Thanks raja for replying also when do you recommend after doing one rep of a module how long to revisit the same rep of module thanks

        Reply
  23. Aishah Rao

    Hi Raja,
    I’m just a little bit confused on how to make my timetable as I’m only doing the three subjects not the four like it says in your book. I figured out when my first exam is this academic year, 8th June my last one is the 22nd (I have the total of seven exams) and how many days from now until then (277 days) as I want to get straight into revision. I was confused on working out how many days I do for each layer and was wondering if you could explain to me on how to work it out? (I’ve read the book but I’m still confused)
    (When making the time table I wanted to re-learn all the work I did at AS for those three subjects, so I’m confused on how I’d fit it into my timetable, as this is my second year?). I would be ever so grateful for your help as I’m starting to stress out.
    Many Thanks
    Aishah

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Aishah,
      Thanks for reading my book and I’m happy to help. As you are starting now, aim to have your first layer completed by end of January. (End of December if you can)
      First layer – Calculate the total number of days between now and Jan 31st and divide that by the total number of exams you have (AS + A2). This will give you the number of days you should spend revising for each exam for the first layer.
      Second layer – Calculate the total number of days between start of Feb and end of May. Divide that by the total number of exams.
      Third/Fourth layers – Spread this through your exam period making adjustments for exam clusters as per the explanation in How to ACE Your A-Levels.
      Does this answer your question?
      Thanks,
      Raja

      Reply
      • Aishah Rao

        Hi Raja,
        Yes thank you that has helped tremendously! Even though I’m not re-taking my AS subjects, I want to go through it all again to reinforce it in my head, so would I for the first layer just divide the total number of days (between now and Jan 31st) by the total of A2 exams I have, and repeat that for the other layers? whilst additionally revising the content that I did for AS alongside/on-top of it?
        Many Thanks,
        Aishah

        Reply
        • Academic Underdogs

          Am I right to assume that the AS content will be examined alongside A2 this summer?

          Reply
          • Aishah Rao

            Yes I believe so

  24. Mark

    Hi Raja,
    First of all I just want to thank you, I read your book around March and it kick started me to revise for my AS Levels in which I got 2 C’s and B, I wish I just read it earlier and I could of bettered these.
    For the course I want to do at uni I could be looking at 3 A grades so I know I need to be on the ball straight away from September but I am confused with the rep timetable. In the book it is from 80 days but I want to start quite quickly, ideally a couple of weeks into the new school year once I’m settled in again so was wondering how you would adjust the timetable if you’re going to start straightaway? More reps or spend more time doing 3 layers?
    Also one more question, what is your advice on how to juggle coursework and revision? In all my 3 subjects this year I have coursework and I don’t want to fall behind in that or not get good marks but at the same time I don’t want to fall behind in my revision.
    Thanks again for all the help!

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Mark,
      Thanks for reading my book and your question. Sorry that you didn’t achieve what you wanted. Sometimes the sting of underperforming can push you to new heights so keep going! Anyway, to answer your question, aim to complete all your first layers by February next year. This gives you around 28 weeks – so just divide the total number of exams you have by 28 and you’ll get the total weeks you need to spend per subject. You don’t have to stick to this exactly – it is just a rough guide.
      Once you gather momentum with the scribble technique and as your attention span/stamina improves, you’ll be surprised how much extra energy you’ll have stored up. Managing your coursework alongside your layered learning timetable, may seem daunting now but after a few weeks of following the 3-step plan it will become feasible. Looking back at some high pressured moments during college and university, I don’t know how I got through them but somehow I found energy. Follow the plan and you’ll always find it too!
      I hope this helps.
      Raja

      Reply
  25. Felix Marshall

    Hi, I recently purchased your book after having failed my AS year with a U in Maths, E in physics and D in Geography and I was reading through the layered learning and was wondering how did you power through your AS level textbook work as well as keeping on top of your A2 work? I’m having a bit of a crisis right now and could really do with some advice. Thank you

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Felix,
      Thanks for reading my book and your question. So to keep on top of both my AS level work and A2 work I…
      1. Completed 1 ‘power layer’ per subject. A power layer is when you cover a subject/module/topic before the teacher has taught it using your core textbook (ideally) or other relevant learning material. To do this, I had to start revising for my A2 exams shortly after results day.
      2. Prioritised my layered learning timetable over school homework/lessons – this pissed off my teachers initially, but after explaining my plan, most of them stopped harassing me and let me got on with it. After I showed my improvement in class and mocks, no one bothered me.
      3. Squeezed work into all the nooks and crannies in the day. 30 minute journey on the train – I sat down, put my headphones on and my textbook/pad out immediately. If I was heading out on a Friday or Saturday night, I’d wake up earlier to complete my layer targets.
      4. Kept track of my work rate and always tried to beat the previous days performance. If I finished 15 textbook pages yesterday, I’d try and do 16 today. This significantly improved my stamina and attention span.
      I hope this helps!
      Raja

      Reply
  26. Ahad

    Hi raja,
    At your workshop this year will you be demonstrating how to use the ST technique with essay based subjects and fast recall subjects ETC

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Ahad,
      Yes, I’ll be dedicating 30 minutes to the scribble technique and it will be quite hands on. Step by step, I’ll demonstrate each part of the procedure and you will have the chance to practice it during the workshop. Of course, I’ll be happy to answer any questions if you have any.
      Raja

      Reply
      • Ahad hameed

        Great! Also will you also go through how to remember a process like diagrams that have step 1 and 2 and 3 etc & in my first layer how long should i spend on each page tops
        Also when i say finish a topic in my textbook which would be like 5 pages per topic and i forget 70% of it three, four topics later if i wait to revisit it in the second layer whats to say i would have forgotten it all, i mean how do i remember everything from each topic or am is it even possible to remember everything

        Reply
  27. Aishah Rao

    Hi,
    I’m considering to buy your book but I was wondering whether the book is targeted towards certain subjects? Mine are all essay based subjects (English Lit, Lang &Sociology) and I thought if it would make any difference?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Aishah,
      Thanks for your interest. The book provides strategies and techniques for all subjects, but they would be more helpful for Sociology than for English Lang/Lit. I must emphasise though, study techniques only form a small part of the value in the book. Steps 2 and 3 in our three step plan focus on motivation and self-discipline. These are the most valuable parts of the book in my opinion and many other readers agree with this.
      I hope that helps!
      Raja

      Reply
      • Aishah Rao

        Hi,
        Thank you that did help

        Reply
  28. ahad hameed

    Hi Raja,
    When i read a page and apply the ST i remember what is on the page but then 2-3 pages in i don’t remember as accurately what was on the first page i read, like the subheadings and stuff. I can still remember roughly whats on it but not as accurately, therefore i think i might be doing something wrong? Also with ‘reaffirming topics’ i drew out a mind map and followed your steps but if i think of a topic i cant remember all the subheadings in it i can roughly remember what its about but if i was to be tested on something in the topic i could remember it. I don’t know if i’m doing it right? What should i do Raja?

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Ahad,
      Thanks for your question and reading my book. If you can remember roughly what’s on there then that’s fine. As you do more layers, you will understand more and therefore remember more content. Well done!
      Raja

      Reply
      • Ahad hameed

        so i dont have to accurately remember exactly everything on the pages? am i only meant to do 3 layers?
        Also after doing like 3 pages of using the ST should i consistenly everyday go over it again or revisit it when i start my second layer, its just that i get fustrated that i cant remember very well what was on the first page when of when im 2-3 pages in and then i think the ST methods not working

        Reply
        • Academic Underdogs

          Hi Ahad,
          Yes, it’s very difficult to remember everything especially on your first layer. After you have completed a page using the scribble technique, move on from it and don’t revisit it until your 2nd layer. Make sure there is a decent time gap between your 1st and 2nd layer – at least a couple weeks. If it makes you feel more comfortable, quickly scribble down the key points from yesterday’s session before you start today’s session. This should take no longer than 5 minutes.
          I hope this helps,
          Raja

          Reply
  29. Emily Burns

    Will this help me for Scottish Highers? Very interested but not sure if it will do me any good.

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Emily,
      Our new book How to ACE Your National 5s will be useful for Highers – http://www.AcademicUnderdogs.com/shop . If you have any questions about any of the techniques described, feel free to ask on here and I’ll get back to you.
      Thanks,
      Raja

      Reply
  30. Bienhameen Hussain

    Hi I’ve already sat my AS level exams and I was worried about my grades not turning out the way I want them too. I’m an intelligent student it’s just that I left my revision too late and now I’ve gone from being predicted As too Ds. I was just wondering what I should do about applying to universities because I want to study law but I won’t be able to apply to good universities if my AS level grades are bad. How did you get into such a good uni with your AS grades like did your teachers predict you higher. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi,
      Thanks for your question! I pushed really hard for predicted grades. I’m talking letters from my parents and badgering teachers. This combined with a strong personal statement, reference and a bit of luck got me the offer I wanted. Eventually, I achieved grades that could have got me into a better university but decided to stick with UCL. I suggest you push for the best predicted grades possible. Look your teachers in the eye and tell them you are going to improve with conviction. If you’ve read my book, create a layer learning timetable and show it to them. Create a strong UCAS application, then completely forget about it and focus your exams in the summer.
      If you don’t get any offers but achieve good grades, take a stab at clearing or take a gap year and re-apply. I strongly recommend a gap year regardless because, if used properly, it will give you an edge when applying for jobs.
      Don’t be too hard on yourself if you receive low grades. Those who bounce back from a ‘rock bottom experience’ early in their life have a unique advantage over those who seamlessly excel without a hiccup. It develops a putbull type resilience which is way more valuable than a few letters on a piece of paper. Till this day, I’m thankful that I failed my AS levels. Turning my Ds and Us into As in one year felt like coming back from 6-0 down in the champions league final. It left me with an underlying confidence that with hard work, I could make a vodka lemonade out of any lemons I ever faced in life. This helped me succeed in university, my career and in business.
      Execute the 3-step plan in How to ACE Your A-levels, be consistent with your work and you’ll be fine!
      I hope this helps!
      Raja

      Reply
    • Olaitan

      Hi Raja, just wanted to know what A levels you studied?

      Reply
      • Academic Underdogs

        Hi Olaitan,
        I studied Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Maths.
        Thanks,
        Raja

        Reply
  31. Ahad Hameed

    Computer is lagging out i meant to post it on this one, yeah read the above comment i re-wrote it because i thought this post didnt upload

    Reply
  32. Toni

    I read the book, but I have started really late in revision there’s clearly not enough time for 3 layers because there’s too much content. I’m predicted 4 A’s at AS but have been underachieving and getting D’s since September. Exams begin in May and I’m panicking that I won’t get there in time. I’ve even tried all-nighters but still the work is way too much. I actually have no clue what to do anymore. Is there anything you think would help me get closer to my targets?

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Tony,
      Thank you for reading my book. If you’re starting now, as you said there probably isn’t enough time to complete 3 layers. You will have to focus on completing 1 strong layer with all past papers done before exams. Starting this late isn’t ideal but still doesn’t put you at a major disadvantage as long as you execute all of the techniques in my book.
      Raja

      Reply
    • Ahad Hameed

      Ignore this one Raja i thought it didnt upload then re-wrote it

      Reply
  33. Mia Morgan

    Hi, I’m coming to the end of my AS year but have got my mock results back U, U, D, C. I have worked ever so hard but 5 of my teachers so far have sighed off ‘ill’ and never returned. I love my subjects even though I have lost my teachers of 3 out of 4 subjects, some multiple times. I dream of going to a university and am convinced I can make the grades for A-level, but not AS. How did you manage to persuade UCL to give you an offer even though you have bad AS grades, especially as you did the same subjects as me. P.S I love the book, it has helped me so much. Thank you for reading my rant about teachers. ?

    Reply
  34. Cara

    I have 87 days before my first A Level and im half way through reading your book but im struggling to motivate myself to start revising and I’m really not sure how to start concentrating and taking it all in because I’ve a lot to learn for my 4 AS levels, lack of focus and constant distractions is my problem, any tips?

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Cara,
      Have you finished the book?
      Many thanks,
      Raja

      Reply
  35. Sash

    Hi,
    One way I revise is by reading the notes I have made over and over again and creating mind maps , so far this has worked for me as I achieved good grades in A2 mocks ( e.g. B in economics). So should I carry on with this method which is working for me, or start using the scribble technique to get higher marks?
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Sash,
      If something is already working for you then it’s best to stick to it. It’s best not to rock the boat at this stage.
      Raja

      Reply
  36. Sashika Liyanage

    Hi, is the scribble technique effective for everyone?

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Sashika,
      Thank you for your question. Yes, I do believe it is effective for everyone. I don’t buy the whole visual/auditory/kinesthetic learner stuff! The scribble technique simplifies the learning process down and it has proven itself to me and many others countless times.
      I hope this helps.
      Raja

      Reply
  37. Sagar Joshi

    Hello, Raja, I read your book, I do four subjects at AS Maths, IT, Computer Science and Economics. I really like your book, but the problem is I procrastinate so much I even deleted things which distracted me but somehow I still procrastinate. I always have like a break down every few days that I am going to fail. Now I started the first layer my first exam is 16th May I am so scared because if I keep on procrastinating like this I don’t know I will succeed. I have friends who are retaking AS and I don’t want to retake a whole A level I had mocks a few weeks back and I ended up with A in IT course work B, E and E. I have a problem with Time management I always seem to like look up videos on time management and procrastination. Moreover, I also feel like I just can’t focus I had Maths revision in the half term but half of the time I was there my mind was somewhere else. It is so annoying please help me, Raja.
    Thank you,
    Sagar

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Sagar,
      Thanks for your question. First off – you’re not alone. Everyone battles with procrastination. Instead of trying to eliminate procrastination we have to try and reduce its affect over days, weeks and months.
      When you ask others how to procrastinate less, they will probably throw a few hints at you like ‘set goals’ or ‘work in a quiet environment’. You’ll see a bunch of these hints towards the end of my book. Following 1 or 2 of these hints probably won’t help much because they have very little impact on their own. However, using many collectively can significantly improve your productivity in the run up to exams.
      I used to constantly talk to myself in the mirror and beat my fist before starting a revision session like I was about to enter a boxing match. Sounds a bit nerdy, but you’ve got to do what you need to do.
      I hope this helps.
      Raja

      Reply
      • Sagar J Joshi

        Thank you very much for your reply I am doing my best and I learned that people were not born intelligent through hard work and practice people have become intelligent so that’s exactly what I am going to do. Thank you again
        Sagar

        Reply
  38. Mark Scott

    How long would you advise to take on each side in the texbook during each rep? Because I’m sure in the 2nd and 3rd rep you will be able to do it quicker but how long for each? Just needing a rough estimate, some of my pages are quite detailed as this is for History.

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Mark,
      It shouldn’t take longer than 15 mins per page.
      Raja

      Reply
  39. Alika

    Hi,
    I have recently brought your book. I have noticed that it heavily depends on the scribble tecnique but I don’t have any text books because they’re change the specification, so bar french I have nothing to scribble from! How do you think I should approach this?

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Alika,
      If you don’t have textbooks for your subjects then you’ll have to piece together your learning information using your syllabus. Unfortunately this is going to make your life a little harder, but if you understand your syllabus inside out I guarantee you will be ahead of your peers.
      I hope that helps,
      Raja

      Reply
  40. Alika Lee

    HELP!! my courses don’t have text books because the spec has changed,I have one for French but not for English lit philosophy and classical civilisation… there is one for classics but it’s more than 200 pounds! I can’t use the scribble technique because I cannot get any books. After my mock results I have no idea how to approach this!!
    Stressing!!
    Alika
    ps your book is absolutely amazing

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Alika,
      If you don’t have textbooks for your subjects then you’ll have to piece together your learning information using your syllabus. Unfortunately this is going to make your life a little harder, but if you understand your syllabus inside out I guarantee you will be ahead of your peers.
      I hope that helps,
      Raja

      Reply
  41. Maryam Sohail

    Hi. I purchased your book a few days ago. And today we got our mock exam timetable. Exams are starting in three weeks (Monday 8 Feb to 11 Feb). How am I supposed to follow up with three layers on such a short time? I’m horrible with time management. Can you please help me manage my time. I take physics, chemistry and maths(mech).
    Thank you so much. :’)

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Maryam,
      Thanks for reading my book. I assume you are in 2nd year A-levels. Regardless, there is no way you can complete 3 layers in 3 weeks let alone 1. Are your mocks important? If not, in my honest opinion you should work towards performing your best in your actual exams. Best thing to do is start your first layer for your subjects. Either cover 1 subject at a time or all of them simultaneously – it’s your choice. Work towards completing one strong layer 3 – 4 weeks before your first real exam.
      I hope that helps.
      Raja

      Reply
  42. anonymous

    I have 13 exams in the summer, so far I’ve only got to doing a strong layer on my a2 modules as well as doing all the questions in the maths a2 books, but I still got a long way to go as I’m retaking 2 biology modules, 1 physics and 3 maths (AS). Layer 1 took much longer than I thought as it took me alot of time to understand the concepts in biology and physics. As you can see I got a packed exam time table and I just wanted advice on how you would timetable revision towards exams, when to start layer 2, should I start exam papers for the a2 modules I already learnt, I still need to learn 3 AS modules. ( I’m not too worried about the maths 3 AS modules).
    I know I should be confident but I’m feeling overwhelmed, I feel it’s in my nature to be pessimistic and there’s just a obstacle of not being confident going into exams I can’t yet overcome.

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi,
      You’re pretty much in the same position I was. Am I right in understanding that you’ve completed the first layer for all your A2 modules. How many modules in total do you have left for layer 1?
      Raja

      Reply
      • anonymous

        Yes I have completed the first layer for my a2 modules using the endorsed textbook. I’ve also realised this textbook doesnt contain the optional topic which is 4 chapters in my unit 5 physics which i have not covered. I think i could push to fully complete A2 layer 1 by the end of this month.

        Reply
  43. Emily Bannistet

    Hi How to ace your A-Levels, I have a quick question, in your book subjects are categorised into 3 sections: fact recall, method and understanding and written prose. Which category do you think Spanish would fall into?
    Thanks Emily

    Reply
    • Academic Underdogs

      Hi Emily,
      Thank you for your question. Spanish would fall into the written prose section and the scribble technique can be used to remember key words. However, with languages it’s important to practice through speaking as much as possible. Writing ability will follow. I hope this helps.
      Raja

      Reply
      • Emily Bannister

        Thanks!

        Reply

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