I know that for many of you starting out with Cambridge IGCSE or AS studies for the first time can be a bit of a daunting experience. I shared some tips and motivation with one of your fellow-students a while ago who was experiencing some difficulty adjusting to CIE studies, so I think you all might benefit the discussion too:
I completely understand where you are coming from regards Business Studies, the workload and wanting to really understand the subject and ultimately earn a good mark. Cambridge is, in general, quite a step up for any student in terms of the amount of work to be covered, the depth and the overall standard required. There is a great deal of writing, learning and preparation required for every subject.
Speaking from experience though, it is a standard you can achieve! Yes, it takes hard work and perseverance, as well as a lot of dedication – but again, judging from my communication with many of you, I believe you are capable of making it and really performing to your best!
Some of us put a lot of pressure on ourselves; sometimes it’s really unnecessary, and other times it keeps us on our toes. What you must avoid, however, is letting your own expectations overwhelm you. This is when things become much more difficult than they seem, and your perception (a very powerful thing!) doesn’t work in your favour. To give you an example from my own CIE studies: I never enjoyed Maths (to say the least). In my final year, I remember writing the first paper and thought it went ok…I still doubted though, and thought that I would really have to try excel in the second paper if I was to earn at least a C. That second paper started pretty badly…the first two pages seemed like such a blur and so foreign to what I had learnt! Without exaggeration, I really thought I was going to either fail or receive a mark that meant I couldn’t pass with matric exemption. I though I would repeat the subject. I mentally prepared myself for this outcome.
As it turned out, I earned a B for Maths – a pleasant surprise, needless to say! Here’s my point: yes, set the bar high and expect a lot from yourself, but don’t be too hard on yourself. My problem – and something I still work on – is not getting too ahead of myself. Planning and preparation is important, just don’t let it be in control of you and don’t get ahead of yourself. Being nervous can be a good thing and work to your advantage, but it must not affect your every day life and your enjoyment of what you do.
Now to answer some questions and concerns:
– Not to worry if you experience a lack of time for revising your notes. This is not a rule that is set in stone. It’s good if you are making use of my tips and advice, but please remember to adapt them to suit your needs – no two students are completely alike. If you can only revise a certain amount of notes, that’s fine. If on occasion you can’t manage to revise your notes, that’s also fine – if you make use of our blog and/or do activities and assignments, you are still interacting with the work.
– You won’t get all the work entirely ‘in your head’ at an early stage or in ‘one go’. Rather focus on understanding what you read and being able to answer questions about it. For the moment, you need to be able to work through each unit with understanding; you will soon see how they fit together.
– If you’re following a study schedule, you will have sufficient time to revise for the exams. That is the time period you will use to get it all ‘in your head’ and ‘cement’ your understanding in preparation for the final exams. Right now, you should be exploring all this new information you are learning about.
– There will always be some areas that students don’t enjoy. You can do some extra research on your side to make things more interesting and fun. For instance, read the newspapers (even online) or check out The Economist magazine – it’s not really as difficult to follow as you might initially think. This way, you should start seeing how the theory works in reality.
– You need to consider every unit as important…I can’t say that some are more important than others, or that some sections can be left out. What you can do, though, is use the syllabus I uploaded to the blog as a checklist. This helps to make sure you are covering everything as necessary. It’s also kind of rewarding when you can ‘tick’ off a section. It means you’re one step closer!
– Again, speaking from experience, you should expect to make mistakes. Later on, you might find yourself say, “I should’ve been doing this from the start!”. Allow yourself to make those mistakes and – most importantly – to learn from them. That’s all part of life 🙂
– Don’t be scared about misunderstanding certain concepts or parts of the work. If there’s absolutely anything you have even just a bit of doubt about, contact me as soon as you can. Make a note of it to remind yourself, and then let me know.
Keep moving on and looking forward!