A Level

New Year’s Work Resolutions

Freshly arisen from a Christmas pudding and mulled wine stupor, you might reappraise how your Christmas work-schedule went. Perhaps you didn’t quite stick to that regimented revision timetable. Maybe you didn’t get round to doing as many past papers as you’d hoped. But this needn’t be a bad thing. The Christmas break is a time for rest, relaxation and recreation. Revision is important; but, as Victorian Poet Laureate Alfred Tennyson reminded us, ‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world’. With a new year and new determination, you can start 2017 refreshed and ready to succeed.

There is a time for mulled wine, and a time to mull over work. We all love rocking around the Christmas tree, so what lessons might we be able to take from all the fun of the festive season? Turkey isn’t nice when dry, and neither is revision. So what aspects of the festive period can we incorporate into our New Year’s work resolution? 

Tinsel and Christmas Lights. Christmas is bright and so should revision notes be. Want to emulate the star at the top of your Christmas tree? Apply the principles of your tree decorating to your revision notes: bright, but not garish; colourful, but with method. Nowadays, moreover, you can get different coloured Christmas trees, as you can with paper. Some students are said to follow text more easily when it is on yellow paper. And just as we don’t (yet) have machines to decorate our Christmas trees, it is a good idea to write by hand. Scanning revision notes can avoid a crisis if you misplace them but – unless you’ll be using a computer for the exam – compose your notes by hand.

The Twelve Days of Christmas
In the traditional festive song, there are different gifts on different days. Revision, too, thrives on variety. Mix up your learning to make sure your mind doesn’t get bored by the same information, or that you don’t start glazing over facts. And just as there are never more than two dozen gifts at a time, divide your revision into sensibly-sized chunks.

Dashing through the Snow and Rocking around the Christmas Tree. Fear not, kinaesthetic learners, the dashing and dancing can remain! Even when your Christmas tree has been taken down, Christmas jingles and boogying won’t go to waste if you ingeniously re-craft the lyrics. For every dance move, relate it to a fact you just can’t get your head around. The more you dance, the dizzier you might feel, but the less dizzying those facts will become. Craft a whole a routine, and you’ll rock through the exam paper. It is the same with songs. It is an eternal truth that it is easier to learn song lyrics than pages of writing. Songs are catchy, songs rhyme, and songs are fun to sing. So now is the time to discover your inner lyricist.

Gravy. This goes for essays in particular. Loosen up meaty layers of text with intermediate conclusions, connectives and stylistic elements to make your answer flow well. Gravy brings together disparate elements in the Christmas roast. Likewise, be sure to link paragraphs together, adding phrases like ‘on the other hand’, ‘alongside this’, ‘by contrast’ and so forth to create a strong argument that is easy to swallow.

Fun. Again, this goes for essay-subjects. If you are enjoying the question, it will show in your answer. And it will make the marking experience more fun for the examiner, too. This is not to say that the exam is the time to bring out your best party jokes. Stay clear of humour in that sense. But enjoyment – interpreting and answering a question creatively – will bring a smile to the examiner and bonus marks to you.


Brussel Sprouts. With revision, there will always be things we don’t want to learn, facts we particularly struggle with, and subjects we would rather not have on our plate. But as with a Christmas roast, our studying would not be complete without them. Perseverance is key. It is no surprise that it tends to be adults who are adamant about sprouts: things get better over time. The more you come back to tricky areas, the easier they’ll become. Try, try and try again. And because pudding comes after the Christmas roast, reward yourself for your revision in order to leave a sweeter taste that might even make you crave more.

Christmas Cracker Trivia. Go into an exam equipped with a cracker-worthy array of facts. Learning numerous nuggets of information will mean that, even if a particular question is tough, you will be able to ground your answer in solid facts. Little facts signal to the examiner that you know your stuff. There is a reason Christmas crackers come with crowns: those who know little gems of information will be crowned with equally supreme exam results.

The festive season might be over, but the New Year brings its own sense of energy and enthusiasm. Work hard, and there will be even more reason to celebrate this year. Revising with a little sugar-coated wisdom will mean that sitting at your desk won’t feel dull. Who knows, 2017 might even be the year you become a fan of brussel sprouts.

Written by Alice Theobald, English tutor with MyTutor.

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