Taking control of Year 12: tips from students to help you make the most of your first year of A-levels

happy student concept art

Sixth form life is a step-up from school, so how can you adjust?

Starting your A-levels can be overwhelming – you're expected to be a lot more independent and self-motivated than you were at school. 

Here are some simple ways to regain control, with tips from other students who've been through it before. 

More like this: 11 things A-level students wish they'd known

Take control of your work

This doesn’t mean studying every hour of the day – it means studying smarter.

Get yourself a decent way of organising your time and logging homework so you don’t miss any deadlines.

Use your teachers – ask them questions, read their comments, find out where you need to improve and make those improvements.

Don’t brush topics you don’t understand under the carpet – get to grips with them now so they don't come back to bite you in the exam.

Purchase a folder for each of your classes and keep your work organised – this will will save a lot of time and help when it comes to revision.

For the workload, I suggest you go through your notes and work between classes. When it comes to revision, look at past papers and mark schemes.


More like this: five ways to impress your new teachers

Take control of your social life

You don’t have to be friends with everybody, but sixth form is a great time for making new connections.

Socialising is a scary thing, but you can make some great friends.

When you're sitting by someone say hi and introduce yourself. Maybe ask about how their summer went. Do this with anyone you sit next to [and] you are bound to find someone you get on with and hopefully become friends with.


Take control of your body

There’s often a lot of sitting down in sixth form so it’s really important for your health and wellbeing to get a bit of exercise, even if it’s as simple as walking home more quickly or choosing stairs rather than a lift.

Keep a healthy bedtime routine so you don't burn out. Eating well and having enough sleep helps concentration so much so your class time will be more effective and stay in your memory better. Also if you're in better health, you're less likely to get ill and miss class.


Read more: your guide to handling revision and exam stress

Take control of your opportunities

Sixth form isn’t just about academic work – there will be loads of activities and opportunities that you can get involved in if you want. Make time to follow up your interests, learn new skills and meet new people.

Clubs are great for CVs for jobs and personal statement as they can be easy to talk about in interviews because you can link it to leadership skills, communication, team-work, empathy and time-management.

Just make sure you enjoy it! It is not only about CVs, personal statements, jobs, and applications. We all deserve breaks from studies and work, so also use them as an opportunity to relax.


Take control of your future

You may be just getting used to sixth form life, but you'll be thinking about uni applications and careers before you know it.

No-one expects you to be certain about any of this at the moment but any decisions you make down the line should be based on solid evidence.

Use the facilities and tutors at your sixth form or college to research your options and find out and as much as you can.

Read more on The Uni Guide: where to start with applying to uni

Ask a question in the A-levels forum
Your question will be posted in the A-levels forum
Awesome! Your question has now been posted. View your post here
  1. Please choose where you want to post your question.
    Please choose your study level.
    Please enter what your question is about.
    Please enter your question.
    Your message must have two characters or more.
People are talking about this article Have your say