Study Techniques to help you ace your GCSE and A Levels

Are you struggling to stay focused and productive while preparing for your GCSE and A Level exams?

Do you feel like you're putting in a lot of effort but not getting the results you want?

If so, it might be time to try some new study techniques. Here are a few methods that can help you improve your concentration, retention, and performance. 

The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management method that can help you break down your study sessions into manageable intervals. 

Here's how it works:

  • Choose a task that you want to focus on, such as revising a specific topic or writing an essay. 
  • Set a timer for 25 minutes. 
  • Work on the task without any distractions until the timer goes off. 
  • Take a 5-minute break. 
  • Repeat the cycle four times, and then take a longer break of 20-30 minutes. 

This technique can help you stay motivated and avoid burnout by giving you frequent opportunities to rest and recharge. 

It can also help you build momentum and tackle more complex tasks more efficiently. 

Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a visual technique that can help you organise your thoughts and ideas in a non-linear way. 

Here's how to create a mind map:

  • Start with a central idea or topic that you want to explore.
  • Write it down in the middle of a blank sheet of paper and draw a circle around it.
  • Branch out from the central idea with sub-topics or related concepts. 
  • Use colours, images, and symbols to make the map more engaging and memorable. 
  • Keep refining and expanding the map as you learn more about the topic. 

This technique can help you understand more complex topics more deeply, make connections between different concepts, and remember information more effectively.

It can also help you be more creative and flexible in your thinking. 

Active recall

Active recall is exactly what it sounds like; it is the act of recalling information! However, it is done in such a way that allows you to move information from your short-term memory into your long-term memory. This is particularly useful for exam revision. There are two main active recall techniques you can use:

  • Blurting
  • Flashcards

Blurting is where you quickly read over a textbook or exam specification, close the book and write down as much as you know or can remember. Once you have done this, you reopen the book and compare your notes to the textbook to see what areas you know more about and what areas you need to revise more. When you have an exam coming up, you can do this two weeks before each day to make sure you are prepared.

Flashcards are something most students use but they are so underrated. You can write exam questions on one side of your flashcard and answers on the other to quiz myself. It is important to not just know an answer but be able to apply the information you learn to show your understanding.

Spaced repetition

Spaced repetition is a technique that involves reviewing material at increasingly longer intervals.

Here's how to use spaced repetition:

  • Divide the material you wnat to learn into smaller chunks, such as flashcards or summaries. 
  • Review the material shortly after you learn it, such as the same day or the next day. 
  • Review the material again after a few days, then after a week, then after two weeks, and so on. 
  • Focus more on the material that you find more challenging or that you're more likely to forget. 

This technique can help you consolidate your learning over time and avoid cramming before exams. It can also help you retain information for longer periods and avoid the 'forgetting curve'.


Mnemonics are memory aids that use associations or patterns to help you remember information. 

Here are a few examples of mnemonics:

  • Acronyms: creating a word or phase from the first letter of each item you want to remember, such as HOMES for the Great Lakes in America (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior).
  • Rhymes: creating a rhyme or jingle that incorporates the information you were trying to remember, such as "i before e, except after c".
  • Visualisation: creating mental images or stories that connect the information you want to remember, such as imagining a giant tree with branches that represent different topics.
  • Chunking: grouping related items into smaller, more manageable chunks, such as memorising a phone number in three sets of digits. 

Mnemonics can help you remember information more easily and creatively. They can also make studying more enjoyable and engaging by adding a fun and personal touch to your learning. 

There are many study techniques that can help you ace your GCSE and A Level exams. 

Whether you prefer a structured approach like the Pomodoro Technique, a creative approach like mind mapping, a testing approach like active recall, a spaced approach like spaced repetition, or a fun approach like mnemonics, there's a method out there that can suit your learning style and needs. 

Experiment with different techniques and see what works best for you. Good luck with your studies!

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Open Study College (OSC) have been leading the way in distance learning since 2007. Our team comprises of expert tutors, knowledgeable student advisers and a friendly student support team. Between us we have decades upon decades of experience in education and remote learning. Our blog is designed to help and guide you along the right path for you, by providing information, helpful tips and inspirational student success stories.

Study Techniques to help you ace your GCSE and A Levels