Student Blog

Coping With Change: from GCSEs to A Levels

When you move from Year 11 to Year 12, a lot more changes than your form tutor! Though you’re studying fewer subjects, your workload increases, and students you’ve spent the last five years with may no longer be with you – or you might be the one to leave! Whether you’re staying on at your secondary school for Sixth Form, or leaving to go elsewhere, you can expect big changes to come. Coping with change can be challenging, but always worthwhile. However, facing new classes and new classmates can be a daunting process, so here are our top tips for getting through the initial change-over process.

Make new friends, but keep the old

If you’re moving to a new sixth form or college, it’s important to make sure you stay in touch with friends from your old school, without letting this hinder you from making new friends. Making new friends doesn’t come easily to some people, so if this includes you, it’s time to start smiling at people! If you’re not confident, there’s a simple trick to overcome this: pretend to be! Channel your most outgoing friend or favourite actor, and do what they would do. Everyone’s going to be in the same boat, so you’ll have plenty to chat about. Joining new clubs, societies and sports’ teams is another way to make new friends.

Relish your newfound independence

As well as adjusting to new social circles, you’ll have a whole new way of studying and learning to get to grips with. After culling several subjects before GCSEs, you’ll lose even more when you do A Levels, so be prepared to dedicate an even larger amount of time to the courses you’ve chosen. Not only will you get to study these subjects in much more depth, but you can shape your own learning: many coursework assignments have greater freedom for you to choose the topic, and independent learning is favoured. Start out by learning to take notes on the go, rather than copying from a whiteboard or receiving handouts. Get familiar with the library – and start reading!

The library – your new best friend

You’re going to be given more freedom: this can be anything from signing yourself into class, to overseeing your own homework and coursework, as well as small changes like wearing your own clothes, or calling your teachers by their first names. It can be easy to fall into bad habits with a free rein, so the responsibility of being in class on time, dictating your own education and balancing your work and social life will be a big change! Make timetables, keep a list of your deadlines somewhere obvious, and manage your time in a way that means you can do your work, as well as seeing friends.

Plan for the future

Priorities change when you move from GCSEs to A Levels. As well as having your coursework and exam preparation to concentrate on, there’s the question of what you’re doing after your final A Level exams: will you go onto further education, look for a job, find an apprenticeship, or go travelling? While it’s not a decision you need to spend a long time thinking about at first, it’s a good idea to keep it in the back of your mind, so when the decisions need to be made, you aren’t feeling caught out and panicked. Once you’ve made up your mind, our tutors are always on hand to help you with personal statements for university, or interview preparation for Oxford, Cambridge, and medical school.

Change is good!

There are many changes and adaptations to make once you progress onto A Levels, but don’t let them scare you. It’s a brilliant two years, where academia becomes more personal and more interesting, and you can get a taste of adult life. Plus, if you ever feel like you need a boost, our brilliant tutors are always on hand to help you out. 

Written by JC (Guest Blogger)

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