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How Chloe managed the leap from GCSE to A-levels

Fresh from completing Year 12, Chloe gives us the lowdown on transitioning from GCSEs to A-levels, choosing subjects and what's surprised her most.

Did you stay on at your school for Year 12 or switch to another school or college? 

Chloe: After a lot of consideration, I decided to stay on at my school for Year 12. I wanted to stay with my friends, plus I knew my teachers and the school well. 

I'm glad I stayed as I did struggle at first with the transition from GCSE to A-level. Luckily my teachers helped support me during this period.

How did you choose your A-levels?

Chloe: The A-levels I picked were English Literature, business studies, Spanish and sociology.

English literature was a natural fit; I thoroughly enjoyed it at GCSE and loved being creative with my ideas in essays. 

Spanish is still a favourite and I love learning the language. At AS-level I've expanded my vocabulary and also learned about the country's culture and history. This has been my favourite part of the course this year. 

I decided to take up sociology, as I had never studied anything like it before; luckily I've found it really compelling. 

Finally, I picked business studies as it was something that interested me at GCSE. But I'll be looking to drop this coming year, to focus more on my other subjects.  

Choosing A-levels? Our tool can reveal what different subjects could lead to at uni.

How did you feel at the start of Year 12?

Chloe: I was both excited and nervous. I had a lot more freedom at school, and my A-levels felt like a new journey in my learning.

But I felt nervous too. I didn't really know what to expect, and I was worried about finding my subjects difficult. 

But now I've finished the year, I can say that although A-levels can be stressful, if you manage your time correctly and keep on top of all your work, things do get a little bit easier... 

What was the switch from GCSE to A-level like? 

Chloe: Drastic! There is a lot more focus and work required. I have learned to manage my time more effectively, which has helped me to complete my work. 

A-levels are about learning to study independently. Now I use free periods on my timetable to get my work done, which reduces my stress levels too.

Did anything surprise you about Year 12?

Chloe: One thing that really surprised me about Year 12 was how much my relationships with my teachers changed.

I feel like now they treat me like an adult and I have more freedom to make my own decisions. When I'm set work, it really is up to me to do it - it's only going to be me who benefits from it.

Another thing that surprised me was the amount of work. I was told to expect a lot of work, but I never really believed quite how much there would be! 

I quickly learned to complete work when it was given to me as soon as possible; otherwise it just piles up and becomes unmanageable. 

What was your Year 12 highlight?

Chloe: Actually, my highlight was developing new relationships with teachers and making new friends. This has helped me throughout Year 12, especially as a few of my friends do similar subjects to me. It makes it easier as we're all in the same position and can relate to each other.

Until A-levels, I had the same form tutor throughout secondary school, and she knew me very well. So when I found out I would have a new form tutor in Year 12, I was worried. However, she has got to know me really well, and supported me throughout the year; so this change wasn't so bad after all.


How do you feel about going into Year 13? 

Chloe: I'm excited to learn more about my subjects. Because I get to drop the subject I'm not as keen on, I think it will be more enjoyable.

However, I'm nervous about taking my A-level exams at the end of Year 13, as the results will determine whether I can go to university or not.

What would your top tips be for students about to start Year 12? 

Chloe: Pick the subjects you enjoy, are good at and go well together! Also, try not to get too stressed! It's not worth it, as stress just makes everything seem worse.  

Finally, make sure you don't leave revision until the last minute - this really won't help those stress levels. Try and do it as you go along!

You've begun looking at universities now. Is there anything you would have done differently to help?

Chloe: I would strongly recommend thinking about things to put on your personal statement.

I didn't really have anything to put on my personal statement apart from completing the Duke of Edinburgh's Award. So I decided to put myself forward to become Deputy Head Girl. It's important to do this sort of thing to help you stand out from other university applicants, over and above your academic achievements.


About Chloe

Chloe is heading into Year 13 and beginning to research universities. Her top choice currently is the University of Kent, to study English and American Literature and Hispanic Studies. In the future, she wants to work with languages, either becoming a translator or teaching English as a foreign language. 


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