The jump between GCSE and A Levels is a big one. I remember it was a bit of a shock when I moved up myself. But there are definitely ways you can get ready and feel confident going into the new school term. To help make the change as smooth as possible, I’ve put together 5 tried and tested tips based on my own experiences (and those of my students). Let’s go!
- Hear about other teens’ experiences.
- Get organised!
- Make good use of your study breaks.
- Keep on top of the reading.
- Make time for self-care.
1. Hear about other teens’ experiences.
How will A-levels be different, I hear you asking? Well, one way to find out is by hearing what other students have to say about their own jump on YouTube. There are hundreds of videos out there with teens sharing stories about the change, and even showing a day in their life as an A-level student. Watching these clips can be a fun and pretty stress-free way of warming up to the idea. But remember that everyone is different. Some teens study all day while others only need a couple of hours of revision- so don’t get too hung up on the details.
2. Get organised!
Being organised is a lifeline when you’re moving from GCSE and A-level. I’m a personal fan of colour-coded stationery. Have a folder for each subject- maybe even a few. You never know how many handouts you’ll get! If you’ve already got your timetable, have a good look at it so you know how many hours a week you’ll have with each subject. Look over the course syllabus before and even get the books ahead of school, so you can get a head start on reading.
3. Make good use of your study breaks.
At A-level, you get study or free periods (yay!). It can be tempting to use this time to hang out with friends, or to go home and watch TV or just to procrastinate until the time is gone— but resist the temptation! You’ll thank yourself later when you’re not faced with a mountain of reading and deadlines. Some of my students actually have a buddy system with their friends who hold them accountable for studying by checking how much they’ve done.
4. Keep on top of the reading.
A-level courses come with loads of reading and it can pile up pretty fast. Make a daily reading schedule so that it’s all broken down into bite-sized chunks. And if you’re studying English literature, listen to audiobooks on your way home from school.
5. Make time for self-care.
The transition from GCSE to A-level can be scary, exciting and overwhelming. And if you’re moving to a new school on top of that, it’s even more stressful. Make sure to take care of yourself at this time. Eat healthy and filling meals, exercise when you can, and get outdoors for fresh air. If you’ve moved to a new school, stay in touch with your old friends too.
It’s a big life milestone– moving up from GCSE to A-levels. And with any big change, there are mixed feelings. The thing to remember is that you got through your GCSEs– did all that hard work revising so you’ve got a strong foundation to build on. Good luck!
Carys Scales is an English tutor and studies English Literature and Creative Writing at Cardiff University.