Darcy Dang’s article is a worthy read. But since y’all are busy studying (right? right?), here’s an exclusive, tl;dr version.

Warning: contains loads of profanities, might sound condescending. Well advice is supposed to sound condescending, isn’t it?


For J1s:

  1. Start early, do work. You don’t *have* to go to lectures if you end up sleeping in them anyway, but set aside time every weekday at least to study. Emphasis (again) on “every”. Make studying a habit.
  2. Organise your shits. Get a concertina file to keep day-to-day stuffs (e.g handouts that you are still using, worksheets to be handed in,…) and a few D-ring files to archive the older stuffs by subjects.
  3. Scholars. If you can tank, don’t take naps. Don’t go back to boarding halfway through the day. Stay in the library, squeeze out a few productive hours, nap 20 mins on the table if you need to. You have more energy than you think you do. Then go to bed early at night. I find that much more efficient than trying to stay up late to study, in your room, with a soft, comfy bed. And Facebook.


For J2s:

  1. If you haven’t started… Whoa, a bit late now eh? But no worries (actually, worry a little bit). It can be done – it has been done. But you have to work hard and ask questions and not afraid to admit that you know jackshit.
  2. Study in groups. Preferably with people who have the same subject combis so you can ask questions and cross-check stuffs. Seriously, the answer keys they give out are sometimes a)wrong b)dense as fuck; and when you are tired, it always helps to have  a few other people to help figure out “Why issit D and not A??? I’m sure it’s A!!!”. Preferably have a few hardcore muggers in your group, so you’ll feel guilty and inadequate if you slack off too much.
  3. Try not to feel inadequate all the time though. That shit’s unhealthy yo. Go out once twice a week! Blow off some steam! Have a quiet day at the beach, have a busy day at USS, whatever. There will always be people who appear more intelligent and well-prepared than you (true in A-levels and true in life) and you need to accept that.
  4. Exercise! Mens sana in corpore sano and all that. But yeah it actually makes mugging much more effective. Trust me I was a Bio student.
  5. Timed drills. Don’t stop at reading notes and doing the revision questions. Do timed papers, do them soon, and do them often. Here’s a recommended progression: do past RJ prelims. Oh no jk you should have finished those already, before this year’s prelims. Ok for real now: do other schools’ current year’s prelims, start with like JJC and end with HCI or sth -> feel progressively shittier -> do past year A-levels in chronological order -> feel slightly less shitty -> you are ready.
  6. Keep your goal in mind. Remember why you are doing all this. Remember the past 4 years toiling away. It’s all for this one exam (well not really, but for our purpose, let’s think it is). Carpe fucking Diem.


Ok so that’s about it. 9 short(ish) tips to study for A-levels. Now get yo ass of Facebook and get working.

Nguyễn Hoàng Phong, Cornell University 2018


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