Educational Advice

Getting into gear: 6 top takeaways from our “Stepping Up to A Level” webinar

by Tamara at MyTutor · July 16, 2021


At the end of June, we hosted a webinar for our teens and parents called “Stepping up to A Level”. We were joined by 2 great speakers – Maryam, one of our current tutors and Geography with Spanish graduate from London School of Economics, and Hannah Wallace, the Assistant Head of 6th Form at Ash Green School in Coventry. Missed the webinar? Not to worry! We have listed the key pieces of specialist advice on how to help your teen to transition from GCSE to A Level smoothly and help them (and you!) have a relaxing summer break.

1. Make the most of study periods (from the beginning)

One of the biggest challenges teens face whilst going from studying their GCSE’s to A Levels is time management and becoming more independent. During A Levels, you’re expected to do a lot of your own research to find answers so teens are given a lot more free time.

Unfortunately some find it hard to make the most of this and don’t know where to begin. Maryam says that getting your teen to stay in school during their free periods is super important as they can reach out to teachers when they need help and to also ask what your strengths and weaknesses are so they know exactly what they need to focus on. The school environment, she says, is great for studying as they’ll see other people working around you and this will increase motivation.

2. When the new term starts, find the revision methods that really work for them

Maryam says that one of the biggest challenges of A Levels is learning how to narrow all the information you’ve learned down to what’s most relevant when answering exam questions. Despite taking in so much during the course, with the limited time in exams, it’s unlikely your teen will be able to jot all this down.

A great revision technique is getting your teen to write down a lot of past paper questions on a word document, and work their way through them. As there are only so many ways they will rephrase the exam question, by the time it comes to your exam they should be in a much stronger position to be able to tackle what they ask.

3. Use the summer holidays to get into the right mindset

The summer holidays (especially this one) is definitely an important time to chill out after your GCSE’s. Just as Maryam did when she finished hers, she says teens should take care of their wellbeing by relaxing, spending time with family and friends and do the things you enjoy.

If your teen is feeling worried about what’s to come when they start their A Levels, Hannah also suggests going on the exam board site and reading through the course specification to get more of an understanding of what the course will entail and what kind or topics you will cover. If they’re going to study English next year and they’re feeling keen, they could read up on the set texts, or other books by the same authors.

They should also focus on the things that they enjoy! If they’re into subjects like crime and are studying Sociology etc, perhaps they can watch relevant documentaries and explore their interests to build wider knowledge in those areas. Ultimately, encourage your teen to have some fun and refresh themselves before the new term, they (and you) have earned it!

4. Know that schools and universities are aware of the pandemic too!

Lots of teens will be feeling that their GCSE’s didn’t go as planned as a result of, you know, the pandemic. They might not be feeling as prepared to do their A Levels as they might be had they had their full GCSE experience the year before. But, as Hannah says, they should remember that A Level teachers are fully prepared to help out as they understand that students’ performances might be lower than normal.

As well as that, UCAS and prospective universities are also fully aware of the situation teens have been in, so remind them to not panic! School teaching staff and guidance counsellors are equipped to support them throughout this time more than ever before. Your teen should remember that they’re not alone and they shouldn’t feel they need to suffer in silence.

If they’ve got some big learning gaps and would feel a lot better going over them, we’re offering a summer programme of 5-day group courses and drop-in tutorials to help teens do just that. As well as courses at GCSE level, they can also pick from 9 subjects from our Stepping up to A Level courses to help them get to the best starting point before the new term kicks off. Courses cost from just £12/tutorial and drop-in tutorials are free of charge. You can check out the full MyTutor Groups summer programme here.

5. Encourage them to ask for help when they need it

It’s a very big jump to A Level that can be overwhelming due to how different it is and the new found pressure of independent study. If it’s 1 subject you feel you’re not enjoying Maryam suggests getting your teen to review it after a while and see if it’s for them and most importantly talk to your teacher from the outset. Similarly, Hannah also reinforces how important it is to talk, talk, talk! Encourage your teen to talk to you, their tutors and their teacher at any point when they find things difficult. They are here to reassure you and also offer support. She also advises you to help your teen get organised, whether that’s writing to-do lists or planning ahead what they are going to study each day, whatever it is that will take away the feelings of stress/anxiety your teen may have and to put them in a format that they can deal with effectively. Focus on what they need to do first and carry them out in an organised way.

6. Prioritise their wellbeing

Make sure your teen doesn’t forget to look after themselves during their A Levels. Maryam suggests encouraging your teen to maintain their hobbies and to keep little traditions going, with friends and family etc so they still do have things to look forward to. What’s also important, according to Hannah, is basic things such as having a regular bedtime routine and eating healthily as well. She highly recommends regular exercise too and to put time aside to do this so that you’re not just continuously studying. Remember, a happy mind will also mean your teen will be in a happy place as they work through their A Levels, which will make them much more likely to do their best (and make it to the end of school in one piece).

Watch the full recording of the webinar below.

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