If you’re studying A or AS levels at the moment, chances are you’re in the middle of your exams right now. Be they first tries of the AS year, retakes from the last year when you couldn’t quite muster the motivation to revise so soon after GCSEs, or the beginnings of the scary A2 modules, January exams are a really great opportunity to either bump up your overall grade or just have a go at this A-level exam lark. It can feel quite a jump from the old parrot learning GCSE-style exams so it’s best to treat them as a bit of an experiment rather than a test which will decide your future.


If you’re in year 12 and this is your first go then the great thing is to know that, whatever your teachers might say, there’s no real need to panic. You can re-take these modules again, and again, and even, if you’re really desperate, again until you get it right. Obviously it’s a really good idea to get them out of the way and get really good grades because these are going to be the easiest exams out of all of the exams you’ll take over the next two years and you don’t really want to have to be thinking about re-takes when you’ve got much harder exams to worry about next year. However, for those of you who feel that the jump from GCSE to AS level was quite a shock, you might find that the grades you come out with in the Spring are a little disappointing. The good news is that by the time you come to cover the A2 material, this AS stuff will feel like a doddle. Some schools don’t even have January exams for this very reason, because learning is cumulative and if you don’t quite get it now, chances are, when you’ve covered a bit more material, you’ll find that it clicks into place further along the line.

For those of you who are using January as an opportunity to re-take you’ll be feeling more of the pressure because you’ll know that if you can’t get the grades you want in the AS exams, it’s very unlikely that your A2 exams will be a fall back option to boost your overall mark. If you’ve got a mixture of retakes and new A2 exams, make sure that you really nail the AS stuff because, guess what, you can always re-take the A2 exams in the summer with your other modules but you don’t really want to be worrying about AS material when it comes to the final year 13 exams.

The other thing to be aware of is that, just like the jump from GCSE to AS, the jump from AS to A2 can feel like a mammoth leap so it’s best to maximise your AS grades in order to make your final exams in the summer of year 13 feel a little less pressured, and to have a good idea of what grades you can expect to come out with at the end and therefore which university course you’ll get on to.

So just think of the January exams as a great opportunity – an opportunity to dip your toe in the water with the new material to know what’s expected of you, or a great opportunity to boost your AS grade with that wise A2 brain of yours.

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