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I used the CGP AS and A2 level Biology AQA revision guides when studying for my A-levels. The books usually cost around £10, but seeing as my school had bought them in bulk and was selling them off for £3 each, I figured I'd give it a go. I was never very good at revising, but figured I should probably make an effort for my A-levels and the CGP books did look nice and user friendly. They aren't ridiculously thick either.
I think the layout of the AS & A2 biology revision guides was brilliant. The pages were colourful (without being over the top or too distracting) and there were no large blocks of intimidating text. Key points are written in a larger font and key words are underlined and in bold, followed by bullet pointed lists which explains the point in slightly more detail. This layout worked very well for me because I do find large amounts of text a bit daunting and somewhat off putting so I tend to not absorb the information. However, with this revision guide I found
the information really rather inviting. There were also diagrams included which I think is essential in biology and the diagrams were always well drawn and never overly complicated. The topics are nicely and logically split up into different sections. In most cases, a topic would be covered in one double page spread.
The content of these books is very good. CGP like to throw in a lot of humour to keep us entertained. Yes, most of it is very silly, but I think it's nice they make the effort and a lot of the time I did actually find it quite amusing. It makes the whole experience a bit more light hearted. Some of my friends thought the humour wasn't funny or completely ridiculous, but I found it helped me remember things.
All the topics I needed to learn for my AQA A-level biology were covered, also obviously you would expect that seeing as this guide is for people studying A level biology with AQA. CGP had managed to condense the vast amount we needed to know into smaller, more manageable sections. This was definitely very useful to me as I found my school text book just too big and too full of text that I just couldn't face reading through. Everything in the CGP book is explained extremely well. There were so many things I didn't understand in lessons that I understood immediately after a look over my CGP revision guide.
At the end of each topic, there are a few summary questions and exam questions. The exam questions are past exam questions so are representative of the style of questions that are likely to come up. It's definitely worth testing yourself after looking over a topic.
There are also little boxes with little hints about what the examiners expect from you on this topic, common mistakes or little ways to remember things which I thought were pretty useful.
The best way to learn from this
So you have this supposedly brilliant revision guide, but how do you actually learn from it? Well, I have a few suggestions on how to use your guide. This is how I revised from my CGP guide and it worked for me.
Firstly I would read over a double page spread ( or however long a topic was). Then I would write notes from it. I would highlight key words, key phrases, anything I thought was really important or something I thought I might have trouble remembering. Then I would do a mind map of that topic. Then I would try and answer the exam questions from the guide and maybe some questions from my text book or get tested by a friend. Don't try and learn everything in one go though. Just do it topic by topic and take it steadily.
An excellent revision guide. They made revision far easier. I've looked at other revision guides and they just don't compare, many of them are dull and boring. CGP definitely worked for me, I gained a grade A on every module I did and so received an A in A-level biology. There were a few topics that I had difficultly understanding in lessons, but were made so much simpler and easier to understand by CGP. The only problem I can think of is that they are very expensive brand new (about £10 I think). However, you can get them much more cheaply second hand.