Monday 28 August 2017

How To: Wider Reading for A Level

Wider reading is a key part of A Levels and any education level beyond that. Your teachers will hound you about doing extra reading, reading around your subject, and that sounds really daunting at first. We’ve got enough work to do already without doing work that isn’t required, right? At first, I just put wrote wider reading off completely because of that reason, and, to be fair, I know people who have gotten through AS year with great grades and haven’t done any wider reading, but personally a little bit here and there has definitely helped me understand my subjects better. There are ways to do wider reading that doesn't add to your stress and it’s not necessarily just thick academic text books.

1. Documentaries are everything

Who doesn’t love a good documentary? Exactly. You could have it in the background while you get on with something else, even if it’s just something like tidying your room. I watched so many documentaries relating to Russian history before I started my History A Level and it definitely helped me understand the content once I was actually started being taught it. If you watch a documentary in class, then rewatch it again at home to reaffirm the information in your brain, or if you didn’t finish it in class, finish it at home.

2. Make use of podcasts

There are loads of academic (and not-so academic) podcasts out there that you can use to dig deeper into your subject. From the wealth of lectures available on iTunes U to book club podcasts, you can gain so much from podcasts and there are podcasts available for every subject you could possibly study. Seriously. Some podcasts I use for wider reading are What am politics? History Hit, The Guilty Feminist and the Banging Book Club (feminist literature pals, it counts). You just need to have a browse.

3. Use reading for leisure as a tool for learning

Reading books is something I’ll always be a huge advocate for, no matter what it is. If you’re reading for leisure you may as well make sure that what you’re reading in some way connected to your studies. For example, I read We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley-Wollstonecraft in relation to my English coursework, which was based on The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks, which is of the gothic genre. It was short and helped me get some background.

4. Only do as much as you feel possible.

A Levels are stressful as they are without wider reading. Your only priority is your mental wellbeing. Yes, your studies are important but they always come second to your mental health. Never compromise on that. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stop doing so much. It’s not always necessary. Only do a little if that’s what’s best for you.

5. Find your own way of doing things

Figure out what’s best for you. If podcasts or documentaries don’t work for you, then find another way of expanding your knowledge that suits you. There are loads of different ways of learning, you just have to figure out what works best for you.

If you liked this post you might like: My Advice to New A Level Students

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