A Level Business – all specifications
Our expert tutor, Chris, explains how students can improve their study, revision, and, ultimately, exam grades with the approaches below. In this case, A Level Business, but the approaches remain the same for most subjects.
The choice of A Level Business requires students to have an active interest in the world surrounding business and the economy. Having chosen this subject, students should consider what is needed to ensure a successful and enjoyable two years of study.
A Good Textbook
- This is likely to be provided or recommended by the school and is a key component in study.
- This book will be used for introducing new topics, as a source for note taking and to use for exercises to test knowledge and understanding.
Making Study Notes
- Work on an approximate ratio of one side of notes for every four pages of the textbook.
- Use colours to highlight specific areas e.g. facts, theories etc and use numbers or letters to help remember the quantity of key points.
- At the end of each section, add current examples linked to the area of study e.g. the energy price cap as an example of Government intervention.
- Examples can be readily obtained from such sites as Tutor for You and City AM (free to sign up).
- National news broadcasts also provide regular updates on key events e.g. drought and the wider implications of climate change.
Ideally, notes should be prepared in advance of your next classes. Ask your teachers to tell you what will be studied next week so that you have a foundation of knowledge and can more easily move to the higher order skills of analysis and evaluation (which are critical for achieving an A/A*).
Additional Study Resources
Students may also consider the purchase of a revision guide as they progress through the course. These texts are very useful but are not a substitute for thorough preparation and the regular use of the primary source (textbook) – they are an additional resource at best.
Start to use examination past papers as soon as possible. Your school is likely to have them available on an intranet – also look at mark schemes and examiner reports to gain an understanding of what examiners want. You are also likely to find a scheme of work and other useful documents on the intranet and resources are likely to be updated regularly.
How to learn & study actively
Go back over answers which have been marked and add additional points if there have been gaps in your answers.
Do engage actively in class discussions and investigate what constitutes a ‘model’ answer – the structure of answers is critical to communicating the correct responses to examiners. Both your teachers and fellow student will contribute to this process and learning from your fellow students is a valuable activity.
If you are struggling with a particular area, ask for additional exercises – the practice of applying knowledge to specific problems will often overcome subject area difficulties.
It is also worth remarking that excellent attendance and punctuality are a key component of success in many aspects of life and particularly in A Level study where time is of a premium.
The Year-Round Study Plan
As part of the study regime, it is important to set adequate time aside. For every hour ‘in class’, consider a minimum of two hours as being necessary for ‘homework, which will consist of reading, note taking, set questions etc. This amount will increase as examinations become imminent.
It is also good practice to go over the topics studied at the end of each week as a mini revision exercise. This will enable students (and your teachers) to deal promptly with any difficulties/areas of concern – this is critical to ensure regular and sustained progress and helps avoid the likelihood of struggling with your studies.
Finance and Accounting are often viewed as ‘difficult’ areas, therefore it is important to be well prepared, be willing to ask questions and if necessary, devote extra time to master topics which are a little harder.
The Study of Business
Business requires the study of a number of areas eg Finance, Human Resources and the ability to integrate areas in longer answers is a key skill.
Consider financial and human consequences of actions by a business and also which of the factors is likely to be regarded as the most important by management. This is particularly important in the higher marked essay questions (20/25).
The Exam Specification & Progression
Most schools will teach the specification in the order in which it is written as this represents a logical approach to building knowledge and understanding. This will help students to see progression and will help to develop the all-important subject knowledge links.
As you progress and your confidence builds, you may find yourself questioning certain theories or approaches by management for example. A critical approach sits well with examiners. However, such criticism must be well founded:
- What are the specific weaknesses in a theory or management style and what could be done better?
- Would a specific approach be better suited to a particular situation but not another?
- Has the short term versus long term time period been considered?
- What is the power structure in a business e.g. are shareholders seen as more important than customers?
There is no perfect or indeed absolutely correct answer – the ability to see opposite arguments and deconstruct them whilst recognising their validity is key for examination success.
Onto The Future
The study of A Level Business will open up a number of areas such as University, Apprenticeships and employment. Achieving well is obviously self-interest since good grades will unlock future opportunities.
It is important however that the two years of study are enjoyable and stimulating; taking a positive and pro-active attitude will reap dividends in the weekly study of Business as well as in final examination success.