So, you’ve finished your GCSE’s, what next? What is Sixth Form like? What are the tips to success?
The moment I marched out of my final GCSE exam was somewhat of a relief to say the least after all that studying, and the prospect of a ten-week summer holiday seemed like a fair reward for enduring two years of GCSE’s.
It really weird, for your whole school life you have been told about those elusive and mysterious things called GCSEs and now they are all over. Now you have your eyes set upon a whole new world that is A-levels, something that you need to be prepared for.
These are my top five tips for Sixth Form:
1. Hit the ground running – At the beginning of every new academic year you didn’t do a lot of work – did you? The School gave you time to settle into a new year with new teachers and new classes. In Sixth Form you really haven’t go time to do this because you have far more work to cover.
The biggest mistake thousands of year 12’s make every year is taking it too easy in September. The sooner you start getting to grips with the coursework, and start revising the less stressful it will get later on in the year, when you have AS level exams to contend with.
2. Get organised – This is really easy, just make a study timetable in your first week. The best way to do it is by ensuring you cover the subjects you did that day the same day because that is the time the information you learned in class will be at its freshest.
Make a realistic timetable because lets face it, nobody is going to able to study five hours a night every weekday. My Sixth Form recommended a minimum of 4 hours a subject per week, so if you are doing four AS-levels that’s 16 hours a week, or 2 hours a weekday and 3 hours a weekend. I think you should try to complete between 3 to 4 hours of study / revision on a weekday, and about five hours in a weekend.
3. Use your free lessons wisely – As tempting as it might be to have fun and socialise during school time, try not to get too carried away. You get free lessons so you can get on with your own private study. In Sixth Form you are treated like an adult, so it is important that you act like one too.
Make a To Do List for your free lessons on a post-it note and stick it at the front of your school diary. You will know what needs to be done and how long it will take. But like I said about your study timetable – make sure your goals are realistic. Allow yourself to take a five or ten minute break though, otherwise after the first hour you won’t take in as much. Do allow yourself to take some time out if you are have a rough day and you don’t feel like you can commit yourself to much or any revision.
4. Stay in control of your new independence – In Sixth Form you are responsible for your own education. This is both good and bad. If it’s not possible to study one evening you will have to catch up another time. You don’t want your teachers or parents nagging you because you are falling behind; if you do badly you have probably got yourself to blame. Throughout GCSE your teacher is there to hold your hand through up until the exams, now you have a bit of experience on exams under your belt you are expected to study for them them independently.
5. Do not accept unsatisfactory teaching – During my A-levels my teachers were all very good with exception of just one. There were lots of problems, including having to wait months before my coursework was marked – this had a negative effect on my final grade.
If you are not happy with the efforts of a particular teacher ask your class mates if they feel the same and tell your tutor. Raise your concerns together as a unit and see if you can resolve the problems together. If this doesn’t work out turn to a senior member of staff e.g. head of department. If this is unsuccessful then get your parents to write a letter to your head of Sixth Form.
Remember the qualifications you are working for are your own, and you don’t want to risk them due to no fault of your own. It is important that if you do find yourself in this rare situation to get it sorted out fast.
All that is left to be said is to also have fun. Sixth Form is great as you will (finally) be treated as an adult by the teachers, and have the opportunity to learn more about subjects you like. My best advice is to make the most of it, as soon enough your exams will be over and it will off to the world of work or to University, when everything changes again.