Student Blog

Advice on entering the Sixth Form

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The transition from GCSE to AS Level is tough and daunting – but you already know this. Secondary school teachers these days seem to do everything they can to prepare their students for the difficulty of AS levels – at the risk of completely putting them off. The first year of Sixth Form is a learning curve and, for most people, the disappointing grades students often receive at the end of the year is the wakeup call needed to change their attitude before things get serious at A Level. My AS year was typical of most, so I’ll share it with you and hopefully you can avoid making my mistakes.

I did pretty well at GCSE without having to try too hard. So when it came to AS levels, I saw no need to change the habits that had served me pretty well so far. I attended most lessons, did the occasional bit of homework and a couple of hours’ revision before each exam. I wasn’t that fussed about my grades to be honest, I’d spent a year believing the hype of ‘AS levels don’t count – universities only look at A Level grades’. I got AAB at AS Level and I was thrilled. That is, until I went back to school after the summer holidays and found out that I could no longer apply to the universities I had planned to, because they only considered students with an AAA prediction at A Level and my AS grades didn’t suggest that I would get that.

Being told that my college wasn’t going to help me apply to Oxford was gutting, but it got even worse. I applied to five universities, three required A*AA, two AAA and one AAB. Of these five, I only received offers from two – from the others I received emails informing me that my predicted grades were too low for it to be worth giving me an offer. Durham university took a chance on me, but that was pure luck; another day, another exams admission officer reading my application, and I may not have gone to university at all.

The lesson I learned was this: It’s not enough to know that you’re smart, that you deserve a place at a great university and that you’ll work really hard next year. You have to prove it, and the only way to do this is with good results. Universities will accept or reject you based on you AS grades. So get your head down and work like your future depends on it – because it probably does.

Written by Katya Sikuade

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