Need comprehensive advice for starting Sixth Form!! - Textbooks, Organisation e.t.c

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maninblack00
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I'm a Yr 11 student about to enter sixth form doing the subjects:
Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths (with Further Maths but might drop this early on)
My exam boards are OCR A for Chemistry and Physics, OCR MEI for Maths and FM and SNAB for Biology.
Just so I know how to start off well, I would preferably like some advice from either Yr 12 or Yr 13 students but any help would be much appreciated.
Textbooks - Should I go out and buy fresh textbooks for all my subjects? They're quite pricey and my sixth form expect me to buy them myself (£40! each). Would you recommend me saving money by buying them second hand from eBay or Amazon or is it worth the investment?
Revision guides - should I get them this early on? Are CGP ones really that useful? For the sconces at GCSE I used the ones my school gave me that weren't CGP and they had all the content. Are there any subjects you would avoid me using CGP? Is revision mostly based around the CGP guises or the textbook? Sorry for so many questions lol I'm clueless.
Finally, how should I go about organising myself? Im hoping it's a good idea to get big arch lever folder thingies for each subject and then a smaller ring binder as a "day folder" containing 4 dividers for each of the subjects I do that day. Over time I'd transfer my notes from there into the arch lever ones to keep all the subjects in their own place. Bit of a long rant post but any help would be reeeeeaaaalllllly appreciated!
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Muttley79
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(Original post by maninblack00)
I'm a Yr 11 student about to enter sixth form doing the subjects:
Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths (with Further Maths but might drop this early on)
My exam boards are OCR A for Chemistry and Physics, OCR MEI for Maths and FM and SNAB for Biology.
Just so I know how to start off well, I would preferably like some advice from either Yr 12 or Yr 13 students but any help would be much appreciated.
Textbooks - Should I go out and buy fresh textbooks for all my subjects? They're quite pricey and my sixth form expect me to buy them myself (£40! each). Would you recommend me saving money by buying them second hand from eBay or Amazon or is it worth the investment?
Revision guides - should I get them this early on? Are CGP ones really that useful? For the sconces at GCSE I used the ones my school gave me that weren't CGP and they had all the content. Are there any subjects you would avoid me using CGP? Is revision mostly based around the CGP guises or the textbook? Sorry for so many questions lol I'm clueless.
Finally, how should I go about organising myself? Im hoping it's a good idea to get big arch lever folder thingies for each subject and then a smaller ring binder as a "day folder" containing 4 dividers for each of the subjects I do that day. Over time I'd transfer my notes from there into the arch lever ones to keep all the subjects in their own place. Bit of a long rant post but any help would be reeeeeaaaalllllly appreciated!
Why does school expect you to buy textbooks? If they do they could buy in bulk and sell them to you cheaper than you can buy them. I wouldn't get any Maths revision books as it is a new spec and they won't be updated yet. I doubt there are any secondhand that are correct versions [new specs]

Day folder is a good idea and transfer at the end of a topic.
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yusyus
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(Original post by maninblack00)
I'm a Yr 11 student about to enter sixth form doing the subjects:
Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths (with Further Maths but might drop this early on)
My exam boards are OCR A for Chemistry and Physics, OCR MEI for Maths and FM and SNAB for Biology.
Just so I know how to start off well, I would preferably like some advice from either Yr 12 or Yr 13 students but any help would be much appreciated.
Textbooks - Should I go out and buy fresh textbooks for all my subjects? They're quite pricey and my sixth form expect me to buy them myself (£40! each). Would you recommend me saving money by buying them second hand from eBay or Amazon or is it worth the investment?
Revision guides - should I get them this early on? Are CGP ones really that useful? For the sconces at GCSE I used the ones my school gave me that weren't CGP and they had all the content. Are there any subjects you would avoid me using CGP? Is revision mostly based around the CGP guises or the textbook? Sorry for so many questions lol I'm clueless.
Finally, how should I go about organising myself? Im hoping it's a good idea to get big arch lever folder thingies for each subject and then a smaller ring binder as a "day folder" containing 4 dividers for each of the subjects I do that day. Over time I'd transfer my notes from there into the arch lever ones to keep all the subjects in their own place. Bit of a long rant post but any help would be reeeeeaaaalllllly appreciated!
you could always look for pdfs and then print the books at school if you don't mind looking a little cheap
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maninblack00
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(Original post by Muttley79)
Why does school expect you to buy textbooks? If they do they could buy in bulk and sell them to you cheaper than you can buy them. I wouldn't get any Maths revision books as it is a new spec and they won't be updated yet. I doubt there are any secondhand that are correct versions [new specs]

Day folder is a good idea and transfer at the end of a topic.
Thank for the help, my school is honestly so budget asking us to buy our own books 🙄
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maninblack00
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(Original post by bruh2132)
you could always look for pdfs and then print the books at school if you don't mind looking a little cheap
I've had a look at the pdfs and it's something I'm seriously considering, thanks!
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Muttley79
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(Original post by maninblack00)
Thank for the help, my school is honestly so budget asking us to buy our own books 🙄
Is this a state school?
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maninblack00
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(Original post by Muttley79)
Is this a state school?
Yea
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Muttley79
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(Original post by maninblack00)
Yea
Then I'd get all parents to complain - how can they justify this? What about students who can't afford this?
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maninblack00
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(Original post by Muttley79)
Then I'd get all parents to complain - how can they justify this? What about students who can't afford this?
I really don't know which is what really annoys me. I thought it was always the school's responsibility to provide textbooks - I think those who really can't afford it will most likely have some given to them by the school.
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Muttley79
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(Original post by maninblack00)
I really don't know which is what really annoys me. I thought it was always the school's responsibility to provide textbooks - I think those who really can't afford it will most likely have some given to them by the school.
It is - sometimes schools ask for a 'book deposit' which is given back if books are returned but I've never heard of a state school asking for this.

It's different for a subject like English when students might want to annotate their own copy of a novel but the cost is usually under £5.
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maninblack00
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(Original post by Muttley79)
It is - sometimes schools ask for a 'book deposit' which is given back if books are returned but I've never heard of a state school asking for this.

It's different for a subject like English when students might want to annotate their own copy of a novel but the cost is usually under £5.
It's become an annoyance for myself and the other students but I think we may just have to get over it. I'll send an email to the sixth form administration asking them why we have to provide our own textbooks because those things don't come cheap.
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OwlOfFire
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(Original post by maninblack00)
I'm a Yr 11 student about to enter sixth form doing the subjects:
Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths (with Further Maths but might drop this early on)
My exam boards are OCR A for Chemistry and Physics, OCR MEI for Maths and FM and SNAB for Biology.
Just so I know how to start off well, I would preferably like some advice from either Yr 12 or Yr 13 students but any help would be much appreciated.
Textbooks - Should I go out and buy fresh textbooks for all my subjects? They're quite pricey and my sixth form expect me to buy them myself (£40! each). Would you recommend me saving money by buying them second hand from eBay or Amazon or is it worth the investment?
Revision guides - should I get them this early on? Are CGP ones really that useful? For the sconces at GCSE I used the ones my school gave me that weren't CGP and they had all the content. Are there any subjects you would avoid me using CGP? Is revision mostly based around the CGP guises or the textbook? Sorry for so many questions lol I'm clueless.
Finally, how should I go about organising myself? Im hoping it's a good idea to get big arch lever folder thingies for each subject and then a smaller ring binder as a "day folder" containing 4 dividers for each of the subjects I do that day. Over time I'd transfer my notes from there into the arch lever ones to keep all the subjects in their own place. Bit of a long rant post but any help would be reeeeeaaaalllllly appreciated!
I am Year 12 going into year 13 and did biology, chemistry and maths, but on different exam boards. I can't really say much about textbooks as we were given them on loan and returned them at the end of the year. Most of the textbooks we got were rubbish and I never used them anyway, so I wouldn't rush out to buy textbooks straight away. They should have a few copies in the library check them out first and if you think they are good then perhaps buy them. I would buy the CGP guides for biology and chemistry (I wish I bought mine sooner). They are very useful, but I don't recommend the CGP maths, I got one and never used it. Definitely get leaver arch folders, they are an essential. I would stock up on dividers to as I use them in the leaver arch folders to separate different topics. I also used plastic wallets a lot, especially when it came to taking in the work for that day. I didn't use a day ring binder just put the work in plastic wallets, then straight into my bag. Also make sure you get a hole-punch and a stapler.

Hope this helps and good luck with your studies!
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maninblack00
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(Original post by OwlOfFire)
I am Year 12 going into year 13 and did biology, chemistry and maths, but on different exam boards. I can't really say much about textbooks as we were given them on loan and returned them at the end of the year. Most of the textbooks we got were rubbish and I never used them anyway, so I wouldn't rush out to buy textbooks straight away. They should have a few copies in the library check them out first and if you think they are good then perhaps buy them. I would buy the CGP guides for biology and chemistry (I wish I bought mine sooner). They are very useful, but I don't recommend the CGP maths, I got one and never used it. Definitely get leaver arch folders, they are an essential. I would stock up on dividers to as I use them in the leaver arch folders to separate different topics. I also used plastic wallets a lot, especially when it came to taking in the work for that day. I didn't use a day ring binder just put the work in plastic wallets, then straight into my bag. Also make sure you get a hole-punch and a stapler.

Hope this helps and good luck with your studies!
Thank you so much!
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vicvic38
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(Original post by maninblack00)
I'm a Yr 11 student about to enter sixth form doing the subjects:
Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths (with Further Maths but might drop this early on)
My exam boards are OCR A for Chemistry and Physics, OCR MEI for Maths and FM and SNAB for Biology.
Just so I know how to start off well, I would preferably like some advice from either Yr 12 or Yr 13 students but any help would be much appreciated.
Textbooks - Should I go out and buy fresh textbooks for all my subjects? They're quite pricey and my sixth form expect me to buy them myself (£40! each). Would you recommend me saving money by buying them second hand from eBay or Amazon or is it worth the investment?
Revision guides - should I get them this early on? Are CGP ones really that useful? For the sconces at GCSE I used the ones my school gave me that weren't CGP and they had all the content. Are there any subjects you would avoid me using CGP? Is revision mostly based around the CGP guises or the textbook? Sorry for so many questions lol I'm clueless.
Finally, how should I go about organising myself? Im hoping it's a good idea to get big arch lever folder thingies for each subject and then a smaller ring binder as a "day folder" containing 4 dividers for each of the subjects I do that day. Over time I'd transfer my notes from there into the arch lever ones to keep all the subjects in their own place. Bit of a long rant post but any help would be reeeeeaaaalllllly appreciated!
Hey! Good to see you going on to such academic subjects, and I hope I can be of assistance. I currently study Maths, Further Maths, Physics and English Literature

Firstly, decide where you want to be at the end of year 13 NOW. Not necessarily what Unis you wish to apply to, but are you aiming all A*? All C? This will impact greatly how you approach your new school year. I'm going to assume you are aiming for ABB or above, as if you are asking around you are probably pretty smart.

For maths, don't bother with revision guides. The MEI textbooks are pretty good at explaining, and one would hope that you will be doing plenty of past papers! For the sciences (brave you for taking all 3) revision guides seem to be pretty useful.

It is odd that your school is expecting you to purchase all your own textbooks. I got my own maths ones, and only because I like to write and highlight in them. YES THEY ARE WORTH IT. I would buy them second hand. Can I just ask what your school expects you to do if you don't buy them? Just take notes? If cost is an issue, see if you can apply for the 16-19 bursary to help with cost.

I personally base my revision around the textbook and past papers. Past papers will be your best friend. For maths, which I have ended up studying completely independently aside from stats and FM topics, I went through the textbook, did a past paper, textbook, paper, textbook, paper, until I got over 90%. You will find a method that works for you I think.

In terms of "how to get through it" I have 3 main points. Turn up, Do the work, Summarize. Attendance is a good 50% of the work. Homework is another 25%. These two things will be your single best shot at doing well. The thing is, at A Level, the lessons are so dense with content, missing a single lesson will completely throw you and mess you up. Also, Homework is only set for your own benefit. Teachers don't do it because they like marking. Finally, at the beginning, in terms of self study, you can get by until about Christmas with a half hour summary each week per subject. I'm not going to preach about how you should do 25 hours of study a day or something, but definitely do something extra, even if it is just reviewing notes. After Christmas, you'll want to start on past paper questions if you haven't already. Use your study periods effectively for homework, that way you have less to do at home.

Filing! Your proposed system is quite similar to mine, but be wary, some teachers require a folder for their subject to be taken to each lesson,and won't like the one binder option. I personally have 1 lever arch for each subject, then I have a popper wallet for each lesson with the relevant notes and paperwork that I need. This is a very light way of doing things, and means you don't have to carry a hole punch around with you. However, both methods require you to be on top of your notes, and I've known people to carry around their lever arch files. You will find a method that works for you.

I probably don't need to mention this, but make sure you are prepared for each lesson with relevant materials. Black pen (get used to it for exams!) pencil, ruler, rubber, sharpener, etc. Coloured pens can be useful. You WILL need a scientific calculator, and if your school does Stats options for maths, a graphing calculator is indispensable. Make sure you have extra paper in a ruling width of your choice.

All in all however, have fun! Sixth form is great fun, and while A-Levels are tough, you'll get through OK!
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maninblack00
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(Original post by vicvic38)
Hey! Good to see you going on to such academic subjects, and I hope I can be of assistance. I currently study Maths, Further Maths, Physics and English Literature

Firstly, decide where you want to be at the end of year 13 NOW. Not necessarily what Unis you wish to apply to, but are you aiming all A*? All C? This will impact greatly how you approach your new school year. I'm going to assume you are aiming for ABB or above, as if you are asking around you are probably pretty smart.

For maths, don't bother with revision guides. The MEI textbooks are pretty good at explaining, and one would hope that you will be doing plenty of past papers! For the sciences (brave you for taking all 3) revision guides seem to be pretty useful.

It is odd that your school is expecting you to purchase all your own textbooks. I got my own maths ones, and only because I like to write and highlight in them. YES THEY ARE WORTH IT. I would buy them second hand. Can I just ask what your school expects you to do if you don't buy them? Just take notes? If cost is an issue, see if you can apply for the 16-19 bursary to help with cost.

I personally base my revision around the textbook and past papers. Past papers will be your best friend. For maths, which I have ended up studying completely independently aside from stats and FM topics, I went through the textbook, did a past paper, textbook, paper, textbook, paper, until I got over 90%. You will find a method that works for you I think.

In terms of "how to get through it" I have 3 main points. Turn up, Do the work, Summarize. Attendance is a good 50% of the work. Homework is another 25%. These two things will be your single best shot at doing well. The thing is, at A Level, the lessons are so dense with content, missing a single lesson will completely throw you and mess you up. Also, Homework is only set for your own benefit. Teachers don't do it because they like marking. Finally, at the beginning, in terms of self study, you can get by until about Christmas with a half hour summary each week per subject. I'm not going to preach about how you should do 25 hours of study a day or something, but definitely do something extra, even if it is just reviewing notes. After Christmas, you'll want to start on past paper questions if you haven't already. Use your study periods effectively for homework, that way you have less to do at home.

Filing! Your proposed system is quite similar to mine, but be wary, some teachers require a folder for their subject to be taken to each lesson,and won't like the one binder option. I personally have 1 lever arch for each subject, then I have a popper wallet for each lesson with the relevant notes and paperwork that I need. This is a very light way of doing things, and means you don't have to carry a hole punch around with you. However, both methods require you to be on top of your notes, and I've known people to carry around their lever arch files. You will find a method that works for you.

I probably don't need to mention this, but make sure you are prepared for each lesson with relevant materials. Black pen (get used to it for exams!) pencil, ruler, rubber, sharpener, etc. Coloured pens can be useful. You WILL need a scientific calculator, and if your school does Stats options for maths, a graphing calculator is indispensable. Make sure you have extra paper in a ruling width of your choice.

All in all however, have fun! Sixth form is great fun, and while A-Levels are tough, you'll get through OK!
Wow I can't thank you enough for this!! Your help is literally a godsend.

At the end of yr 13 I'd like to be at uni doing a medicine degree hopefully with 3 A*s at A Level.

For maths I won't be getting the revision guides then; our new textbooks haven't been released yet though so I'll just have to wait and then get them.

Science textbooks would have to be purchased second hand because although I have the money to get them, I don't really want to fork out £120 before term starts. In terms of what school expects students to do in case they can't afford them I really do not know but I hope there's a system in place to help them. As you rightly said past papers will be a main source but for the new spec it's gonna be harder to get fully relevant ones.

Your filing system seems to work so might try it out at the start of the year.

Again I CANNOT thank you enough for helping me out!!
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vicvic38
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(Original post by maninblack00)
Wow I can't thank you enough for this!! Your help is literally a godsend.

At the end of yr 13 I'd like to be at uni doing a medicine degree hopefully with 3 A*s at A Level.

For maths I won't be getting the revision guides then; our new textbooks haven't been released yet though so I'll just have to wait and then get them.

Science textbooks would have to be purchased second hand because although I have the money to get them, I don't really want to fork out £120 before term starts. In terms of what school expects students to do in case they can't afford them I really do not know but I hope there's a system in place to help them. As you rightly said past papers will be a main source but for the new spec it's gonna be harder to get fully relevant ones.

Your filing system seems to work so might try it out at the start of the year.

Again I CANNOT thank you enough for helping me out!!
That's fine! I was in your position at this point last year, and I know how daunting it can be.

About the textbook issue, what you could do, if you can find the CGP revision guides for each science specific to your exam board, you may be able to forgo the textbooks altogether, and just add notes to them when it is necessary. I'd only do this if it worked out cheaper however. The CGP exam board specific ones seem to be quite accurate and good. While you would miss some contextual info, you would have covered it in class, so it should work for jogging your memory.
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Loopy91
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(Original post by Muttley79)
Then I'd get all parents to complain - how can they justify this? What about students who can't afford this?
All state schools are like that these days and it's not really their fault. Our conservative government are making cuts to the education budget so schools are forced to cut corners in their spending.
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vicvic38
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(Original post by vicvic38)
That's fine! I was in your position at this point last year, and I know how daunting it can be.

About the textbook issue, what you could do, if you can find the CGP revision guides for each science specific to your exam board, you may be able to forgo the textbooks altogether, and just add notes to them when it is necessary. I'd only do this if it worked out cheaper however. The CGP exam board specific ones seem to be quite accurate and good. While you would miss some contextual info, you would have covered it in class, so it should work for jogging your memory.
Forgot to add, while there is a new spec, the old papers can still be useful!
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Muttley79
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(Original post by Loopy91)
All state schools are like that these days and it's not really their fault. Our conservative government are making cuts to the education budget so schools are forced to cut corners in their spending.
No they aren't - none of the schools I know [and I teach] charge students for books.
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Loopy91
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(Original post by Muttley79)
No they aren't - none of the schools I know [and I teach] charge students for books.
What about schools that ask students to buy their own, outside of school?
Maybe schools budget their money differently I dunno.
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