How to clear the jump from GCSE to AS level

Forget everything you know about exams and revision: if you're taking AS exams this year, it's time to break those bad habits you picked up at GCSE. 

“In GCSE, I could mess around, not study at home - yet I got 7 passes including English and Maths,” says Whatsmyusername. At AS level things are different, and if you don’t work hard you may get a disappointing surprise on results day. 

So what do you need to change? Here are three things you need to do to make the jump and ace your AS level exams. 

Be independent

“In my experience, at GCSE, the teachers really push you and get annoyed if you don't come to class, don't do classwork or homework and all that,” says megadon 073. 

This changes at sixth form, as you have a lot more freedom. “At A-level, the onus/responsibility is on you,” continues megadon073. Having more independence is great, but it’s all too easy to slack off now you don’t have outside pressure of school and teachers to keep you motivated. Don’t fall into the trap. “If you don’t want to do homework or go to class it's your choice, it's your life and your grades.” Says megdon073. 

“In A levels you REALLY have to study at home, and focus. Otherwise there is no way you'll be able to do well like you did in GCSE,” Whatsmyusername warns. 

Your revision is your responsibility - so make sure you've got a plan and are ready to roll. Get your friends on side to encourage each other, and make sure you take charge of your own learning. 

More on TSR: 
How much revision will you do this Easter? 
Great revision methods and tips 
Find TSR's past paper bank here
Reward yourself

Manage other commitments


As well as having more independence at college, you also have more responsibility outside the classroom. Meguana points out that “part-time jobs, driving lessons, relationships, extracurriculars you're doing to 'pimp' out your UCAS,” will all eat into your time. 

“It's life's surroundings that makes things more complex,” agrees DanielWhit. “You go from ‘everyone is there, all the time, you all study’ to ‘most people are there, most of the time, most of you study’ - there are more distractions in life.”

You’ll need to make sure you’re balancing your studies and enjoying your free time. Burning the candle at both ends will only lead to burn out, so look after yourself, especially during the revision season.

More on TSR: 
How confident are you feeling about your exams? 
57 revision habits of A* students 
The current year 12 chat and advice thread
Guy at PC

Be prepared

“The reason why I found the jump to AS difficult was because we'd never been told what to do, as in how to study or how much work we needed to put in,” says Blues Clues. At AS level the standard expected goes up – you can’t get by any more with little or no revision. “My brother never studied at GCSE, but still did well. Then he did the same thing at A levels and was devestated when he got terrible grades,” says amamsy. 

“There is the shock of 'I'm doing less subjects! This is great!” says Fawkedgirl33, who goes on to say that this is soon followed by the realisation that the courses are more in depth and difficult. This is particularly true as the year goes on. So don’t be fooled, there’s more work than you think. 

“As for the content it is not normally the content which is hard, it is learning it all and then applying it in the exams” says kingdoo. “In the exams they normally get you to apply the knowledge to new situations which can throw people off.” 

“What really caught me out was the exam jump. Knowing the content isn't enough, you need to know the exams,” confirms loperdoper. 

You need to be aware of this and make sure that you revise properly for you exams and keep on top of your studies. Attend all your lessons, and go to revision sessions so you understand the exam technique. Don’t be fooled by ‘free periods’. They aren’t actually free – make the most of them to crack on with revision so that you have more time outside of sixth form to focus on relaxing and re-energising. 

More on TSR: 
Great big exam discussion thread list 
Should you be studying? Here's how to stop wasting time 
How to use past papers

Have you changed your revision habits for AS level? Let us know in the comments below.