GCSE exam certificates and sixth form life

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ShazzA6
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#1
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Ok so that year 11 is basically over with (until August when we collect our results) I went on the AQA website and saw that exam certificates are usually sent to schools about three months after results day. My older sister did her GCSEs in 2010 and I remember going to school one evening during the dark nights for her rewards evening where she got given her GCSE exam certificates but from my liking I don't think schools do rewards nights anymore or get exam certificates from the exam boards. I will ask about this on results day in August but can anybody tell me if exam certificates still get given out from schools after they are sent to the school by exam boards as I am only aware of the December 2018 GCSE rewards night and I do not think there was a rewards night in 2019. I would email someone at school and ask but I do not want to pester when I am basically an ex student. I want to go to sixth form, my school does not have one so I've chose the closest school with one along with a college in case I don't get 5 GCSEs grade 4 or above but my parents said that because I did so much revision and stayed at school after exams to revise when the rest of the year group had gone home for the day, is sixth form more like school or college or is it a mix of both? The sixth form I am going to requires a uniform but I'm not bothered by that and do you still get homework and revision? I've heard you do mock exams but when do the real exams take place and are these A-Levels?
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Spelunker
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the exam certificates usually get mailed to you or you pick them up from school
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ShazzA6
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#3
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(Original post by Spelunker)
the exam certificates usually get mailed to you or you pick them up from school
I've just found this online, it was posted on 20/12/2020

Secondary schools will keep your GCSE certificates for 1 year after they have been issued. They are sent from exam boards to your school 2-3 months after GCSE results day in August, so will be received in November. If they are not collected within a year, schools will either send them back to the exam board or destroy them.

How am I supposed to know when my school have received them?
Last edited by ShazzA6; 1 month ago
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_gcx
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yes you will get issued certificates. As the thing you copied said, they are only obliged to retain these for a year and after that they may dispose of them, but they might hold them indefinitely. In my case the school reached out to us around Christmas to come to the office and collect them.

I would recommend creating another thread for your second question since it's a bit buried in the post. Yes you will still get set homework. If your school regimented GCSE revision with virtually-compulsory revision classes outside of school hours, then yes A-level might be a bit "looser" and less regimented. You are expected to take more responsibility for your learning. (though this occasionally used as an excuse for sloppier teaching)

You will probably have mock exams late in year 12 (which will form a lot of the predicted grades that you will need for either applying to universities or other post-18 things), which do not contribute to your overall A-level grade and are entirely internal (set and marked by your school) like GCSE mocks. A few schools do AS-levels which are external exams (set and marked by the exam board) sat around the same time GCSEs were. These are separate from the A-level qualification, and examine the first year of A-level content. They are falling out of favour since the school would have to pay for AS exams and most would rather set internal mocks. (also it affords you a bit less leeway with predictions, if you say get CDD AS but are predicted A*A*A* A-level, a university would probably want to know why, but with internal mocks they would not have access to the grades so would be none the wiser whether you got AAA or UUU in your y12 mocks)

A-levels are sat at around the same time as GCSEs. I'm not sure what you're asking with "are these A-levels". Now and then various Level 3 certificates (including BTECs) are "missold" as A-levels, (or have "equivalent" in small print) but often these subjects don't exist as A-levels (eg. IT, Criminology, Finance) so googling would clear up concerns.
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Muttley79
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#5
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(Original post by ShazzA6)
I've just found this online, it was posted on 20/12/2020

Secondary schools will keep your GCSE certificates for 1 year after they have been issued. They are sent from exam boards to your school 2-3 months after GCSE results day in August, so will be received in November. If they are not collected within a year, schools will either send them back to the exam board or destroy them.

How am I supposed to know when my school have received them?
Are you staying on at your school? We still have an event to hand them out - its very informal during one afternoon. We do keep certificates and won't post them as it's too expensive to insure them.
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ShazzA6
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#6
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#6
I am not staying at my school as they don't have a sixth form but they are aware as to the college and sixth form I've applied to but hoping to get into the sixth form as it seems a more pleasant environment and is more like school as I go in everyday at the same time
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Ira Acedia
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As a sixth former, I have no take on colleges but I can share a lot regarding Sixth Form -- granted the specifics will likely differ on a school by school basis, of course.

Sixth Form is a lot like school but with more privileges/lax rules compared to the rest of the school. It's split into two years, Year 12 and Year 13. If you take A-levels, this will typically be 3 or 4. Typically the 4th is Further Mathematics, some schools require you to start with 4 and drop one later on. I personally am an advocate for starting with 4, granted it wasn't compulsory for me.

While you're allowed to drop a subject at more or less any time in Year 12 (Year 13 is a lot more iffy because the subject may be down on your UCAS application and universities may have given offers regarding that subject or the like), you can also take up another subject if you feel like it. I personally took up an extra subject after a half-term, and I recommend doing it before holidays if you choose to take an additional one, as you can spend that holiday catching up so you don't fall further behind. There does reach a point where you won't be able to take another subject because you would be too far behind.

Timetables here work fortnightly, each subject you take being allocated a certain number of lessons fortnightly (9 periods/hours a fortnight per subject. There are 5 periods a day across a total of 10 days, so there are 50 periods in total). As we're also a school, we also have PSHE and PE/Games, PSHE taking up 2 periods a fortnight and PE/Games taking up 4. In year 13, Games is optional. So that's 6 periods from the 50 periods, leaving 44 periods left. Therefore a maximum of 4 "full" A-levels can be taken (9*4 = 36 periods). However, there's also Further Mathematics which takes 5 periods a fortnight, so you can take a maximum of 5 within school timetable (at least at my Sixth Form).

If you have 3 A-levels, you have 44-(9*3) = 17 periods remaining
4 A-levels (inc. Further Maths) give 12 periods remaining.
4 A-levels (excluding Further Maths) gives 8 periods remaining.
5 A-levels (inc. Further Maths) gives 3 periods remaining.

The remaining periods are a mixture of Study Periods and Free Periods. I personally have never had a study period as the lowest I've taken was 4 A-levels (exc. Further Maths), so I can only give second-hand information about those. As the year progressed, depending on performance, Frees were either replaced by Study periods, or were given in place of Study periods. Study periods are basically sitting in a room with others doing work (I believe you have computer and mobile phone access) which is partially supervised and registered. Free periods you can do what you want, for example going home, or staying in the common room/library or the like.

I think some Sixth Forms will allow you to come in whenever your first lesson starts (i.e. stay at home when you have frees), though this might only be a College thing. Here, you have to be in like you would if you weren't at a sixth form, and register (with a teacher) as normal. We also aren't allowed to leave school grounds before lunchtime, though it doesn't stop it from happening (typically when people have no lessons from period 3 onwards, they'll disregard the rules and leave). I haven't seen anyone get punished for this so far, though it's at threat of punishment (I believe removal of right to leave during frees). We also have to sign in/register (not with a teacher/staff) during pre-lunch free periods.

Homework is set like a normal school. It depends on your teachers. Personally I find that some teachers basically never give out homework and then start feeling bad about it, giving out homework for a few weeks and then digressing back to not doing so. Others hand out homework consistently (or inconsistently).

Lessons can get cancelled, which effectively gives you a free period, which is usually nice. It can get annoying if they get cancelled very frequently though, as it ends up wasting your time too -- I find it infinitely harder to do work in frees and as such have long since abandoned attempting to do work there. I do all my work either in lessons or at home, unless it's something I really need to do or really would like to get out of the way. Frees have a lot of distractions, personally.

In terms of assessments, you of course have the small class tests and whole year tests, which will have a role in informing your predicted grade should you do terrible in your Year 12 end of year exams/mocks/UCAS exams/AS exams. We don't do AS exams here. For subjects that typically large number of students participate in (e.g. Mathematics), the proportions of students that get specific grades in the school is relatively constant, so students can be ranked according to their exam grade, the proportion applied and a quick logic check of whether it makes sense for students to be given those grades based on their prior work (e.g. an A student suddenly getting a C), in which other evidence will be looked at. Typically predicted grades are slightly inflated. The highest grade in an AS exam is an A, the highest in a UCAS/mock exams (the exams are made by the school, not UCAS) depends on school and subject. We've had a lot with A* being the highest, while also others that have A like an AS. Predicted grades of course go up to an A*.

You sit A-levels at the end of Year 13. You apply for UCAS universities in October of Year 13 if early entry (e.g. Medicine/Dentistry, Oxbridge), and a couple months more if normal entry. School internal deadlines may be different.
Feel free to ask if you have any specific questions.
Last edited by Ira Acedia; 1 month ago
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ShazzA6
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#8
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#8
(Original post by Ira Acedia)
As a sixth former, I have no take on colleges but I can share a lot regarding Sixth Form -- granted the specifics will likely differ on a school by school basis, of course.

Sixth Form is a lot like school but with more privileges/lax rules compared to the rest of the school. It's split into two years, Year 12 and Year 13. If you take A-levels, this will typically be 3 or 4. Typically the 4th is Further Mathematics, some schools require you to start with 4 and drop one later on. I personally am an advocate for starting with 4, granted it wasn't compulsory for me.

While you're allowed to drop a subject at more or less any time in Year 12 (Year 13 is a lot more iffy because the subject may be down on your UCAS application and universities may have given offers regarding that subject or the like), you can also take up another subject if you feel like it. I personally took up an extra subject after a half-term, and I recommend doing it before holidays if you choose to take an additional one, as you can spend that holiday catching up so you don't fall further behind. There does reach a point where you won't be able to take another subject because you would be too far behind.

Timetables here work fortnightly, each subject you take being allocated a certain number of lessons fortnightly (9 periods/hours a fortnight per subject. There are 5 periods a day across a total of 10 days, so there are 50 periods in total). As we're also a school, we also have PSHE and PE/Games, PSHE taking up 2 periods a fortnight and PE/Games taking up 4. In year 13, Games is optional. So that's 6 periods from the 50 periods, leaving 44 periods left. Therefore a maximum of 4 "full" A-levels can be taken (9*4 = 36 periods). However, there's also Further Mathematics which takes 5 periods a fortnight, so you can take a maximum of 5 within school timetable (at least at my Sixth Form).

If you have 3 A-levels, you have 44-(9*3) = 17 periods remaining
4 A-levels (inc. Further Maths) give 12 periods remaining.
4 A-levels (excluding Further Maths) gives 8 periods remaining.
5 A-levels (inc. Further Maths) gives 3 periods remaining.

The remaining periods are a mixture of Study Periods and Free Periods. I personally have never had a study period as the lowest I've taken was 4 A-levels (exc. Further Maths), so I can only give second-hand information about those. As the year progressed, depending on performance, Frees were either replaced by Study periods, or were given in place of Study periods. Study periods are basically sitting in a room with others doing work (I believe you have computer and mobile phone access) which is partially supervised and registered. Free periods you can do what you want, for example going home, or staying in the common room/library or the like.

I think some Sixth Forms will allow you to come in whenever your first lesson starts (i.e. stay at home when you have frees), though this might only be a College thing. Here, you have to be in like you would if you weren't at a sixth form, and register (with a teacher) as normal. We also aren't allowed to leave school grounds before lunchtime, though it doesn't stop it from happening (typically when people have no lessons from period 3 onwards, they'll disregard the rules and leave). I haven't seen anyone get punished for this so far, though it's at threat of punishment (I believe removal of right to leave during frees). We also have to sign in/register (not with a teacher/staff) during pre-lunch free periods.

Homework is set like a normal school. It depends on your teachers. Personally I find that some teachers basically never give out homework and then start feeling bad about it, giving out homework for a few weeks and then digressing back to not doing so. Others hand out homework consistently (or inconsistently).

Lessons can get cancelled, which effectively gives you a free period, which is usually nice. It can get annoying if they get cancelled very frequently though, as it ends up wasting your time too -- I find it infinitely harder to do work in frees and as such have long since abandoned attempting to do work there. I do all my work either in lessons or at home, unless it's something I really need to do or really would like to get out of the way. Frees have a lot of distractions, personally.

In terms of assessments, you of course have the small class tests and whole year tests, which will have a role in informing your predicted grade should you do terrible in your Year 12 end of year exams/mocks/UCAS exams/AS exams. We don't do AS exams here. For subjects that typically large number of students participate in (e.g. Mathematics), the proportions of students that get specific grades in the school is relatively constant, so students can be ranked according to their exam grade, the proportion applied and a quick logic check of whether it makes sense for students to be given those grades based on their prior work (e.g. an A student suddenly getting a C), in which other evidence will be looked at. Typically predicted grades are slightly inflated. The highest grade in an AS exam is an A, the highest in a UCAS/mock exams (the exams are made by the school, not UCAS) depends on school and subject. We've had a lot with A* being the highest, while also others that have A like an AS. Predicted grades of course go up to an A*.

You sit A-levels at the end of Year 13. You apply for UCAS universities in October of Year 13 if early entry (e.g. Medicine/Dentistry, Oxbridge), and a couple months more if normal entry. School internal deadlines may be different.
Feel free to ask if you have any specific questions.
Hi, thanks for all the information. during my interview at the school with the sixth form before Christmas, I was told I had to stay on site for the study periods as it would cause an increase in price on my bus pass and I don't mind this, hence the reason why I stayed at school this year after exams to study in the study room as I knew I would have to get used to this, I walk to and from school but stayed all day until everyone else went home or sometimes when there was absolutely nothing else to do in regards to studying I would leave after my dinner. I was told I only have 10 lessons a week but 9 if you don't include pastoral and the rest of the periods being study periods, for these I can use my own laptop if I need to do computer work for the subject, but like you said it depends on the sixth form itself. I was told I only needed to do maths if I didn't get a grade 4 in GCSE. Do you have to do PE as the sixth form said to me I could choose what I want to study so I chose HSC Diploma and HSC BTEC Extended along with GCSE English Language? I also got told that I don't have to go to University which is great as I don't want to go. Is a lax rule just rules like a secondary school but less strict and treat the students more like adults?
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Ira Acedia
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(Original post by ShazzA6)
Hi, thanks for all the information. during my interview at the school with the sixth form before Christmas, I was told I had to stay on site for the study periods as it would cause an increase in price on my bus pass and I don't mind this, hence the reason why I stayed at school this year after exams to study in the study room as I knew I would have to get used to this, I walk to and from school but stayed all day until everyone else went home or sometimes when there was absolutely nothing else to do in regards to studying I would leave after my dinner. I was told I only have 10 lessons a week but 9 if you don't include pastoral and the rest of the periods being study periods, for these I can use my own laptop if I need to do computer work for the subject, but like you said it depends on the sixth form itself. I was told I only needed to do maths if I didn't get a grade 4 in GCSE. Do you have to do PE as the sixth form said to me I could choose what I want to study so I chose HSC Diploma and HSC BTEC Extended along with GCSE English Language? I also got told that I don't have to go to University which is great as I don't want to go. Is a lax rule just rules like a secondary school but less strict and treat the students more like adults?
Yes, study periods are (partially or fully, dependent on sixth form) supervised, so you need to be on site. I'm not sure if you're confusing this with Study Leave during exam period. You get study leave for GCSEs and A-levels, both during the exam period and should also have study leave beginning at least a week or more before the exam period begins. I believe it's ultimately up to the school how early they choose to start Study Leave. During Study Leave you don't need to be on school grounds or get registered at all. You only need to be present for your exams, and the onus is on you to be there at the correct stated time. You can leave after the exam. You could stay, the most common reasons for staying being either other exams or to talk about how the exam went with friends or peers.

You should never have to do maths at A-level. It seems you school forces people who are at least grade 5 GCSE maths to do A-level maths, from how your sentence read? I know people with grade 9 maths that don't take it for A-level, and I personally feel they shouldn't force you to take maths. Maybe clarify with the school -- maybe they meant resitting GCSE maths if you got grade 4 and wanted to go to their sixth form, or needing at least grade 5 if you want to do Maths A-level.

Some schools may be different, but here doing PE/Games for 2 hours a week is mandatory in Year 12 (but completely optional in Year 13). This is not an A-level. It's quite literally things like playing Rugby, Hockey, Badminton, Basketball, Football and other sports or fitness. You won't be assessed on anything.

I know nothing about the subjects you have chosen, so I can't help much regarding how many BTECs/Diplomas people choose and the like. Have you not already done GCSE English Language in year 11? I know Universities typically require somewhere between grade 4-6 (Uni and course dependent) for English Language to make sure you have adequate English ability to understand the course material, and I assume employers would also require some way to verify a decent level of literacy and speaking pre-interview.

Going to University is definitely not mandatory.

Yes, lax rules means less strict (or more relaxed) rules.
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ShazzA6
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#10
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(Original post by Ira Acedia)
Yes, study periods are (partially or fully, dependent on sixth form) supervised, so you need to be on site. I'm not sure if you're confusing this with Study Leave during exam period. You get study leave for GCSEs and A-levels, both during the exam period and should also have study leave beginning at least a week or more before the exam period begins. I believe it's ultimately up to the school how early they choose to start Study Leave. During Study Leave you don't need to be on school grounds or get registered at all. You only need to be present for your exams, and the onus is on you to be there at the correct stated time. You can leave after the exam. You could stay, the most common reasons for staying being either other exams or to talk about how the exam went with friends or peers.

You should never have to do maths at A-level. It seems you school forces people who are at least grade 5 GCSE maths to do A-level maths, from how your sentence read? I know people with grade 9 maths that don't take it for A-level, and I personally feel they shouldn't force you to take maths. Maybe clarify with the school -- maybe they meant resitting GCSE maths if you got grade 4 and wanted to go to their sixth form, or needing at least grade 5 if you want to do Maths A-level.

Some schools may be different, but here doing PE/Games for 2 hours a week is mandatory in Year 12 (but completely optional in Year 13). This is not an A-level. It's quite literally things like playing Rugby, Hockey, Badminton, Basketball, Football and other sports or fitness. You won't be assessed on anything.

I know nothing about the subjects you have chosen, so I can't help much regarding how many BTECs/Diplomas people choose and the like. Have you not already done GCSE English Language in year 11? I know Universities typically require somewhere between grade 4-6 (Uni and course dependent) for English Language to make sure you have adequate English ability to understand the course material, and I assume employers would also require some way to verify a decent level of literacy and speaking pre-interview.

Going to University is definitely not mandatory.

Yes, lax rules means less strict (or more relaxed) rules.
I was talking about study leave during exams - my school made us stay at school all day during the May exams but for the June GCSE exams we came in for revision sessions then went home at dinnertime then if anyone stayed (most of the time only I stayed) we studied independently but as the exams got closer to finishing we came in for 1-2 hours for exam revision then we went home at breaktime - I stayed in order to get used to independent study periods for sixth form. Yes I did do English Language as GCSE in year 11 but the course was on offer at sixth form as well as the HSC BTEC course which I also did in year 11 and so I took these courses as they were the main ones of interest, the BTEC Diploma HSC is just an extended BTEC course. No I didn't say I had to do A-Level maths, I was referring to your previous post about having to do 4 A-levels with the fourth being further maths, I only got asked to pick three courses to study and I only have to do maths if I didn't get a grade 4 in my GCSE maths.
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Ira Acedia
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(Original post by ShazzA6)
I was talking about study leave during exams - my school made us stay at school all day during the May exams but for the June GCSE exams we came in for revision sessions then went home at dinnertime then if anyone stayed (most of the time only I stayed) we studied independently but as the exams got closer to finishing we came in for 1-2 hours for exam revision then we went home at breaktime - I stayed in order to get used to independent study periods for sixth form. Yes I did do English Language as GCSE in year 11 but the course was on offer at sixth form as well as the HSC BTEC course which I also did in year 11 and so I took these courses as they were the main ones of interest, the BTEC Diploma HSC is just an extended BTEC course. No I didn't say I had to do A-Level maths, I was referring to your previous post about having to do 4 A-levels with the fourth being further maths, I only got asked to pick three courses to study and I only have to do maths if I didn't get a grade 4 in my GCSE maths.
I don't see a point in redoing GCSE English Language in Sixth Form if you've already done it in Year 11, unless dissatisfied with your grade and want to resit it.

I assume by "only have to do maths" that you are referring to GCSE maths, in which case it makes sense that you would have to resit it. I believe grade 4 is considered the lowest grade for a pass, and a 3 or lower is a fail. Sorry for the confusion regarding Further Maths, I was just saying that this is the typical fourth subject if anyone does take a fourth, and you can also take a 5th if you take Further Maths, due to the timetabling.
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