When you start a new lesson, take a few minutes to get everything ready before you dive in! If you have a textbook, have it open at the relevant pages listed on the front sheet of the lesson. You will certainly need a pen; a calculator, lined paper, pencil and ruler might also come in useful, depending on which subject you are studying.
The front page is very useful: the Aims section should be read through before you start, as it lets you know what is coming up. The Context section tells you where this work fits in with your specification. You can tick off the part listed in the Context on your specification either now, when you work through it for the first time, or at the end of the course when you are revising. You can download a copy of the specification from the exam board’s website – your tutor can help you with this and you will find details are in the introduction at the start of your folder. You also have textbook reference page numbers listed on the front page.
The information in the folder is set out with good, wide margins down the side. Use these margins to make notes as you read. Underline or highlight important points. Make a note about a tricky bit that you might want to speak to your tutor about. Read your textbook to help explain things in an alternative way. If you find you need to make more notes than you have space for, then interleaf a lined page to keep all your work together.
When you get to an activity, take time to consider it carefully. Go back over the notes leading up to it to make sure you are getting the answer correct. Give it your best shot before checking and marking your answer from the information at the end of the lesson. One of the ways to make sure you improve quickly is to follow up any problems you had with the activities. If you didn’t get the answer correct, or if you did but it was a bit of a guess, then don’t move on until you have tried to sort it out. Look back over the notes in the folder and see if you can work out which part you haven’t been able to apply to the activity. See if the textbook helps. Then bring in your tutor. Phone or email – even if you think it is a minor point – a quick five minute communication will normally sort out a problem with an activity.
By working carefully through the information sections and activities, and following up any areas where you feel unsure, you will gain a good understanding of the work as you go along. This will stand you in very good stead as the course builds and develops, and gives you an excellent foundation in the study skills you will need if you continue your education in future.