Hey there! Sign in to join this conversationNew here? Join for free

What Are A Levels Actually Like? Watch

Announcements
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    4
    ReputationRep:
    [Not sure if this is in the right thread, please move it if it isn't]I am currently in year 11 and have been wondering about the gap between GCSE and A Level, how teachers treat sixth formers and basically what it is like to be on Sixth Form. I've asked people at open days but obviously they have been biased and all said it's a great experience. Would any current Sixth Formers/ people who have finished Sixth Form be able to tell me what it is actually like ?
    • Official TSR Representative
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    Sorry you've not had any responses about this. Are you sure you've posted in the right place? Here's a link to our subject forum which should help get you more responses if you post there.


    Just quoting in Danny Dorito so she can move the thread if needed :wizard:
    Spoiler:
    Show
    (Original post by Danny Dorito)
    x
    Offline

    5
    ReputationRep:
    I'm not going to lie about it, the general opinion when I was at Sixth Form is it's hard. It is a massive step up from GCSE, meaning that the amount of work you have to do, goes up a lot. You spend a significant amount of time in the library/study zones, not just around exams. Many subjects have coursework deadlines to meet, which requires constant redrafting and checking by teachers, meaning that it is constant work and assessment throughout the year.

    A sixth form is essentially an add-on from mainstream school, meaning that you still abide by the same rules as what you would have done lower down the school, however you may get certain privileges. However, in my experience, the teachers do tend to be a lot more laid back, and do tend to treat you with a little bit more respect, but at the end of the day, you're still in school, therefore there isn't much difference in the way that rules are followed and the general way that they treat you.

    The social side of sixth form is probably one of the main reasons why I went to sixth form. You meet so many new people, as well as maintaining the old friends that you originally had from school. We had organised events which included dress up days, sports days and Halloween themed days all in aid of charity, which the whole of the sixth form seemed to engage in. We also had a volunteering programme which set aside a whole afternoon allowing us to volunteer in whatever way we wanted. There's also the chances for house captains and peer mentors, which allows to act as a role model for younger students. You also have numerous free periods, which can work in your favour if you use them properly, as we often spent ours going to the local shops, instead of working in the library in first year.
    If you have any other questions, feel free to ask
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    I think it really depends on you as a person, as well as which subjects you're doing, and what kind of HE institution you go to. If you go to a school sixth form, it's a lot more like school. In the school I used to go to, the sixth formers have to be in from 8:45-3:00 every day even if they only have one lesson, and if they're not in a lesson they have to be in the silent, supervised study area.

    I go to a sixth form college, which is a mix of academic and vocational subjects. In general it's very chilled out here, a bunch of people skip lessons regularly (though I know people who have been kicked out due to this). Academic achievement is, in general, a lot lower, as is pressure to succeed, so at times it can feel as if there's an atmosphere of failure where it's seen as completely okay to fail. On the other hand, it's been a really clean break from my previous school, which I hated, and people are, in general, more accepting. We call our teachers by their first names and they're very encouraging towards people who really want to succeed.

    In terms of subject difficulty: it is much harder than GCSE, but if you're a very talented person in a couple of subjects then you'll find it easier than other things. For example, I got 8 A*s and 2 As at GCSE, so I'm taking four subjects at the moment. The subjects I have been able to actually succeed in are either AS subjects (Ancient History and Classics, considerably easier than linear subjects) or History, which I like to think I'm very good at. English Literature is something I have really struggled with, partially due to poor teaching but also because I've struggled so much I've found it hard to motivate myself.

    My biggest tip for managing the step up in difficulty is doing lots of work. It's very very very tempting to use all your free time to just hang around with friends, but if you actually work your hardest you'll find A-Levels a lot easier to manage.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    4
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by StevetheIcecube)

    In terms of subject difficulty: it is much harder than GCSE, but if you're a very talented person in a couple of subjects then you'll find it easier than other things. For example, I got 8 A*s and 2 As at GCSE, so I'm taking four subjects at the moment. The subjects I have been able to actually succeed in are either AS subjects (Ancient History and Classics, considerably easier than linear subjects) or History, which I like to think I'm very good at. English Literature is something I have really struggled with, partially due to poor teaching but also because I've struggled so much I've found it hard to motivate myself.

    My biggest tip for managing the step up in difficulty is doing lots of work. It's very very very tempting to use all your free time to just hang around with friends, but if you actually work your hardest you'll find A-Levels a lot easier to manage.
    Yeah I'm expecting and dreading the jump from GCSE. I'm going to be doing History and English Lit for A Level too and I know its a lot of work and reading but they are my favourite subjects and I don't mind putting the work in for school seeing as if I'm not doing schoolwork I'll probably just be wasting time anyway. I also made sure to check that the History and English teachers at the school I'm moving too know what they are talking about and actually like their subject and to ask current students at the school as well because I don't want to risk my education because of poor teaching.
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by aloue1)
    [Not sure if this is in the right thread, please move it if it isn't]I am currently in year 11 and have been wondering about the gap between GCSE and A Level, how teachers treat sixth formers and basically what it is like to be on Sixth Form. I've asked people at open days but obviously they have been biased and all said it's a great experience. Would any current Sixth Formers/ people who have finished Sixth Form be able to tell me what it is actually like ?
    The gap is Huuuuuggggeee. Everyone tells you this, and you go 'yeah right...' a few months into the course, you think 'crap, why didn't i believe them'. half a year in you're desperately trying to save your grades, wondering what all the fuss about gcses was...
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    4
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by arichards_)
    I'm not going to lie about it, the general opinion when I was at Sixth Form is it's hard. It is a massive step up from GCSE, meaning that the amount of work you have to do, goes up a lot. You spend a significant amount of time in the library/study zones, not just around exams. Many subjects have coursework deadlines to meet, which requires constant redrafting and checking by teachers, meaning that it is constant work and assessment throughout the year.

    A sixth form is essentially an add-on from mainstream school, meaning that you still abide by the same rules as what you would have done lower down the school, however you may get certain privileges. However, in my experience, the teachers do tend to be a lot more laid back, and do tend to treat you with a little bit more respect, but at the end of the day, you're still in school, therefore there isn't much difference in the way that rules are followed and the general way that they treat you.

    The social side of sixth form is probably one of the main reasons why I went to sixth form. You meet so many new people, as well as maintaining the old friends that you originally had from school. We had organised events which included dress up days, sports days and Halloween themed days all in aid of charity, which the whole of the sixth form seemed to engage in. We also had a volunteering programme which set aside a whole afternoon allowing us to volunteer in whatever way we wanted. There's also the chances for house captains and peer mentors, which allows to act as a role model for younger students. You also have numerous free periods, which can work in your favour if you use them properly, as we often spent ours going to the local shops, instead of working in the library in first year.
    If you have any other questions, feel free to ask
    Thanks
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    4
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Sweetpeasw)
    The gap is Huuuuuggggeee. Everyone tells you this, and you go 'yeah right...' a few months into the course, you think 'crap, why didn't i believe them'. half a year in you're desperately trying to save your grades, wondering what all the fuss about gcses was...
    Nah after looking through the threads on here I believe them lol. GCSEs seem hard at the moment but i bet i'll miss them next year when I'm neck deep in A level work
    Offline

    11
    ReputationRep:
    It's hard you'll have several mental breakdowns, you won't sleep and you won't even know what life is. You can be organised and you'll still get stressed. You can study and still fail. It's a joke but it's worth it in the end.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    When you're doing a levels, gcse's seem easy. Just make notes as you go along and make you sure understand everything when you are being taught it
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    4
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by physicsamor)
    It's hard you'll have several mental breakdowns, you won't sleep and you won't even know what life is. You can be organised and you'll still get stressed. You can study and still fail. It's a joke but it's worth it in the end.
    sounds like fun
    Offline

    11
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by aloue1)
    sounds like fun
    The propsect of going to uni, is all worth it though I can't wait to finish my exams and start uni in September.

    Just don't ever leave things last minute and balance your time well
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    fam its bare hard like be ready to work your socks off and still flop tbh

    (Serious answer: it is hard but just work hard and keep at it, choose subjects you enjoy)
    Offline

    18
    ReputationRep:
    rly hard.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    4
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by cmoore44)
    When you're doing a levels, gcse's seem easy. Just make notes as you go along and make you sure understand everything when you are being taught it
    yh i definitely plan to make my class notes be good enough to be my actual revision notes because it would save so much time to be able to revise straight from them instead of making revision notes AND class notes
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by aloue1)
    yh i definitely plan to make my class notes be good enough to be my actual revision notes because it would save so much time to be able to revise straight from them instead of making revision notes AND class notes
    yaaaa, and use youtube and online resources bc u can find soo much useful stuff Honestly, don't worry about it now, good luck w ur gcses have an amazing summer and then be motivated to do well next year))
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    It is very different. I go to a school sixth form and we are allowed to leave in our study periods in the afternoon which does give you more freedom. The teachers generally treat you more like adults, so since I started in September I haven't known a teacher actually raise their voice at a class. So it is nicer in that way. However, the workload is massively increased, like pretty soon after you start. I wouldn't say its something to worry about though because as long as you stay organised and on top of things you will adjust fine. I would recommend making your notes as you go because despite doing fewer subjects there is loads more content to learn at a level! Lessons will most likely be different too. In my experience, lessons at a level mostly consist of making notes (if content heavy subject) or just practice exam questions, and this is the case right from the start. So at A level you will rarely find yourself doing things like 'fun activities' or making posters in lessons. Also teachers are pretty chill about how you make your notes so just find what way works best for you (this might be different from GCSE). I made revision cards from notes in my class book at the start but soon realized that i couldn't keep so many revision cards organised so I now have all my notes in folders!
    Offline

    19
    ReputationRep:
    Critically, they're hard for someone who hasn't experienced that kind of academic pressure before, but it's like anything in life. You find GCSEs easy when you do A levels, you find A levels easy when you do undergrad, undergrad easy when you're in postgrad... the transition is hard but ultimately they only feel hard because the exposure is new. The material itself, relative to what exists, isn't.

    Mitigate the significance of the transition by being a little proactive over summer and you'll adjust more nicely.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    4
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by cmoore44)
    yaaaa, and use youtube and online resources bc u can find soo much useful stuff Honestly, don't worry about it now, good luck w ur gcses have an amazing summer and then be motivated to do well next year))
    thanks! only five weeks to go until that 9 week summer i cant wait
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    This is really useful!! Thanks~

    For anyone doing science A levels, how does the work load and lesson structure feel?
 
 
 
  • See more of what you like on The Student Room

    You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

  • Poll
    How are your GCSEs going so far?
    Help with your A-levels

    All the essentials

    The adventure begins mug

    Student life: what to expect

    What it's really like going to uni

    Rosette

    Essay expert

    Learn to write like a pro with our ultimate essay guide.

    Uni match

    Uni match

    Our tool will help you find the perfect course for you

    Study planner

    Create a study plan

    Get your head around what you need to do and when with the study planner tool.

    Study planner

    Resources by subject

    Everything from mind maps to class notes.

    Hands typing

    Degrees without fees

    Discover more about degree-level apprenticeships.

    A student doing homework

    Study tips from A* students

    Students who got top grades in their A-levels share their secrets

    Study help links and info

    Can you help? Study help unanswered threadsRules and posting guidelines

    Sponsored content:

    HEAR

    HEAR

    Find out how a Higher Education Achievement Report can help you prove your achievements.

    Groups associated with this forum:

    View associated groups
  • See more of what you like on The Student Room

    You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

  • The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

    Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

    Quick reply
    Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.