Five things you can do this summer to get a head start for your A levels

Yes, it's the summertime again, and time for a rest after all those GCSEs. But going by the discussions on TSR, a lot of students are already thinking about how to make a flying start to their A-levels. 

Here's five ways to get ahead, with some top tips from the TSR community.


1. Do any introductory work that’s been set

Were you set work over the summer? Maybe at an induction event or introductory lesson? Can’t remember? Time to rummage through all those bits of paper you were given at the time. After all, you don’t want to create a bad impression in the very first lesson.

2. Find out what your subjects are really like

You’ve read about them in glossy brochures, you may have talked to a few smiling teachers and enthusiastic students at an open evening. But do you really know what it’s actually like to study a subject at A-level?

What will the work be like? Which parts are the hardest? And which are the most interesting/boring? Talking to students who are already on the course or who’ve recently finished is probably the best way of finding out. 

Get onto the subject forums on TSR where you can see what other students think about subjects and ask as many questions as you want to the people who really know.

Find out what other students think. 

3. Have a look at the spec and past papers

Get a head start by familiarising yourself with the specification and some exam papers. You'll need to know which board and course you're going to be following as there are quite a few options out there.

Take a look at the specifications of your subjects. Just familiarise yourself with material so that it isn’t a massive shock come September; that happened to me and I really struggled during the first few months.


I would recommend knowing the first topic well before starting just so you're eased into the courses.

High Stakes

Find past papers here 

Pencil case

4. Get interested

You've chosen this subject so there will be some aspects of it that should really interest you. Follow up that interest by watching some videos and checking relevant TV programmes and magazines. 

For example, science A-level students could watch the BBC series ‘Forces of Nature’ and read some articles from ‘New Scientist’. Politics and social science students should keep an eye on the news and read some of the more in-depth background articles.

5. Rest and get into a positive frame of mind

It is the summer holiday after all. You need a break and you need to get mentally prepared to take a step up to your next level of education where you’ll need to be more independent and show more initiative.

Enjoy yourself and just make yourself familiar a few weeks before you begin. You can always just read through the books and syllabus at night or when you have nothing to do but when you are set to have fun, leave that day for your enjoyment solely. You will need all of the headspace and energy you can get for these courses.


Take a break! Trust me, you don't need to start now. The summer after I finished my GCSEs was the best holiday of my life.


Whether it’s going to be a complete break or a mix of work and play, have a great summer. 

Will you be doing any work over the summer, or will you just be enjoying your time off? What fun ways can you think of to get interested in your topics?