The jump from a good grade at GCSE to the higher expectations of A Level can be a large one.  Some students feel unprepared for the expectations of independent study and don’t know where to start, let alone how to structure their time efficiently.  If your school tells you to do 10 hours per week independent study on top of what they already set, where do you start?  This is especially true with a foreign language where it can be hard to know what to look at or which techniques to use to maximise the return on your time investment.

A good place to start is by going over your notes from the classes or lectures you have had that week.  Don’t leave it too long, or you will forget what was said and may struggle to make sense of your notes.  Re-write your notes if you need to add more details and get busy with highlighter pens and underlining so that you can easily see the key points.  If you have time, write yourself a quiz now, using the information in your notes to form the basis of the questions.  Put the quiz in a separate place for later use, so that you have a ready-made resource when it comes to revision time.

If you find that there was something you didn’t understand, ask NOW.  Ask a friend, look it up in a book or online (make sure your resources are good quality ones!) or even go back to the teacher/lecturer and ask for clarification.  Far better to do that within the fortnight, rather than waiting until exam time.

With specific regard to languages, it is important to get as much listening practice as possible.  Use online resources such as news websites to find articles that you can listen to as well as read. Euronews (, Deutsche Welle ( and 1jour1actu ( are all good examples.

Language Learners can help with the question of independent study and note-taking skills through our Study Skills tutoring sessions. These classes are ideal for those making the jump between GCSE and A Level or for those who are facing exams this year and aren’t sure how to manage their time in order to fit in revision as well as essays and other commitments.   We can help students to establish a regular schedule of personal study on top of their academic and social commitments, as well as giving a range of tips on independent research, essay planning and exam technique.