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What a year 11 pupil can expect from A levels

The summer after my GCSE’s was by far, one of the best summers of my life. Stress free, no homework, no coursework, no exams to prepare for. I was, as you would say, chilling.

The end of August is when the anxiousness properly started hitting. Am I really going to be doing my A levels? Me? The one who not long ago was just in year 7, thinking it was ages left for me to be in year 12. The time really had come for my grown up self to take on one of the hardest challenges and I was feeling a mix of emotions. Part of me was excited don’t get me wrong. It was like a fresh start. New subjects to explore. New people to talk to. New opportunities. It was finally time for me to experience it all for myself. But there were still parts of me that questioned how A levels would really be like, if I needed help I knew I could work with tutoring in Batley.

My sister used to always tell me about A levels and how they were extremely difficult. The workload, how much you have to revise and prepare for exams, the amount of homework. I was taking 3 essay based subjects so writing would be a skill I would definitely have to be an expert on. But I would learn as the year went on right? Or did they expect me to know it all beforehand? Support is always on hand from online tutors.

Despite all the questions I had and you may have too, the truth is that A level experiences are different for everyone. For some people, it was the most difficult thing they ever had to do whereas for others, it wasn’t as bad as they thought. As someone who has finally completed my course, I would say that as long as you have a 70:30 ratio for working and ‘chilling’, it won’t be all that bad.

Your work should take up most of your time, with free periods used wisely to catch up on any homework or incomplete classwork. This will mean you’ll have less to do on the weekend and can spend that time to yourself. Sometimes you might be afraid to ask questions in class, especially if no one else has put their hand up for the same thing you don’t understand. My advice to you: go for it. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions you have, even if they sound silly. Others around you probably feel the exact same way and don’t put their hand up for the exact same reason. If you really don’t have the confidence to put your hand up in front of the whole class, ask the teacher at the end of the lesson, break time or lunch time. But don’t make the mistake of not asking at all. Break through the fear and ask yourself: how will I know if I don’t ask?

To be engaged with your subjects will also help you to excel in them. Don’t restrict yourself to just the classwork but also do your own independent learning. Read subject specific books or books written by specific theorists. Use the internet to research in further depth so that you can add context to your learning. You’ll find that your college or sixth form will require a lot of independence from you, so don’t be afraid to show it off. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to learn more and more, even if you are labelled a ‘nerd’.

The final thing I would say is organisation is key. You might only be doing 3 subjects, but if you’re not organised, it will be very difficult. A lever arch file for each subject will be a good place to start, with a few plastic wallets inside. I would get sticky labels and write on ‘classwork’ ‘independent work’ ‘notes’ ‘worksheets’ ‘homework’ on the wallets so that you can place everything you need in a manner that makes it easily accessible. You’ll never know when you’ll need a particular sheet so it’s always best to keep it somewhere you can get it without having to search for it.

The two years won’t be easy, but you can find methods and techniques to make it easier for you. You’ll pick up what works best for you throughout your course and if you do struggle, always seek help. It might get overwhelming but try to remain positive. Keep in mind the 70:30 ratio.