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Stepping up from GCSE to A-Level

It is important that you recognise that the step up from GCSE to Level 3 /A-Level is a big one.

A-Level students talk about:
  • Increased independence and organization

You’ll be more independent and responsible for your own learning. This is a good thing, as it helps get you ready for the next steps for study or work, but can take some getting used to. Maybe you’ll need to be organized in a way you haven’t thought about before.

  • Understanding deeper concepts

In general A-Levels have more content to learn than GCSEs. Not only that, the subjects will be covered in more depth.

  • Different dynamic with teachers

At Sixth Form, your relationship with teachers will be different. You’ll be treated as more of an adult – and no more Sir or Miss! You’ll also get to work closely with your teachers (or tutors as we tend to call them) to work on making your studies as personalized for you as possible.

First of all, let’s look at some study basics

Study Basics checklist

What things might you need to do at the start of the year to ensure you succeed?

  • Have you got the basics – pens etc.?
  • Have you got your timetable? It is best to take a picture on your phone when you receive this
  • Get folders for each subject
  • Make sure you create virtual folders on your school drive
  • Have you got the textbooks you need?
  • Make sure you know how to access lessons and sources on the Sixth Form system
  • Make sure you know how to contact school and your teachers
Top tips for Sixth Form

1. Get in the right frame of mind

Make sure that you understand you’ll have to be open to new ways of working and maybe, working harder – you may have to put in extra hours as compared to GCSEs.

2. Attend, Attend, Attend!

Attendance is key – missing classes means that you miss important content and class interaction.

3. Get organized

  • As we’ve already mentioned, being organized – in terms of practical things such as pens, notepads, folders, timetable etc. is very important
  • Take notes – and keeping notes organized is right at the very top of your list of things to do – and you need to make the best-possible start with it – from day one
  • Schedule, schedule, schedule – in terms of stepping up to A-Level, you need to plan early what you’re going to do and when. Use your timetable and get started with this planning early
  • Hand in dates – try to map any dates to your timetable- including assignment /homework dates etc.
  • One thing at a time – teachers say that it is more useful to allocate home study sessions by subject- give these slots each week

4. That’s deep, man

The ideas and concepts you’re going to be thinking about are going to be more complex and it might take a while to get used to this way of working.

5. There’s no such thing as a ‘free’ period

You will have free periods of time in your timetable. Don’t take that as an excuse to spend all day relaxing. There is a reason why you’ve got that time to yourself – it’s so you can sit down and take some time to ensure that everything is up to date.

6. Talk to your teachers

  • Ask them if there is anything you don’t understand, or are having difficulty grasping
  • Keep communication open

7. Revise as you learn

The number 1 tip from A-Level students was that they wished they had gone over or revised topics as soon as they had done them. This keeps the content fresh in your mind and you can address any gaps or lack of understanding promptly.

8. Work well with others

  • Share knowledge with other students – they may have grasped ideas that you haven’t and vice versa. They say that you know when you have learned a concept when you can explain it to another person.

9. Ask for support – whether this be academic or personal, our staff will be here to help.

10. Get goals

Strangely, you may need to get thinking about what you want to do when you leave Sixth Form. Many people choose A-Levels based on something they want to do in the future, so the best course of action is to get researching and setting yourself some goals.

Taking a careers quiz can be a way to get some inspiration. This can be a fun way to get some pointers in the right direction based on your personality and skills.


Finally – enjoy it!