A Levels – a Student’s View

“Life in lower sixth is a big change from the rest of high school. After all the work leading up to GCSEs in year 11, it’s a relief to have them behind me. However, now in sixth form, there’s no let up on the work load. Teachers’ expectations have increased noticeably, the volume/time required for homework is greater, lessons are more intense and topics are much more complex and detailed. Despite the fact that I have no external exams this year, I still feel under a lot of pressure to achieve good grades throughout the year, even though it’s a supposedly stress free time academically.

When deciding what A levels to choose in year 11, I wasn’t sure what I would want to go on to study at university/ take further. So to keep my options open, I decided to choose a variety of A levels and am currently studying English Lit, Philosophy and Ethics, Biology and Geography AS. So far, I am enjoying my subjects although sometimes topics are particularly stretching and require extra work/ consolidation. Although the A Levels are still a long way off, I always try to stay on top of my homework (as I find this stops me feeling overly stressed) and complete it to a good standard – hopefully, I will progress to researching and learning topics outside of the syllabus once I feel more comfortable with them but know that this may be a challenge. I think it’s important to find the balance between work and play, but sometimes this is hard during term time.

In addition to school work, we are expected to do more extracurricular activities to help with employability skills, character and the “dreaded” UCAS personal statement! When you add in the push to become “independent learners” and to be proactive/knowledgeable about university options and career paths, I probably shouldn’t be surprised that I am feeling quite stressed!

My mum keeps talking to me about revision courses for extra support. Overall I think this is a good idea and hope that they may help relieve some of the pressure of revising independently. Being in a different environment with different teachers will also hopefully help to change things up when revision gets boring. I also think a course might help with topics I have found particularly challenging and that things may become clearer with a different teaching approach/ teaching method. However, I do have a few doubts too…. partly because I don’t have any major exams this year but also because I am worried that things covered by the course may not be relevant to my syllabus – its quite a big time commitment and I keep wondering if I would be better off sticking to my own notes/revision methods!

Right now, I feel that I don’t know enough about the courses to make a decision. When hearing what others have to say about the courses they all sound very constructive and a good use of revision time. My older sister has done a few of the Justin Craig courses and found them really good so I am thinking of trying one and seeing how it goes. I’ll let you know…..”