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Making the jump from GCSEs to A-levels

So you get your GCSE results and the results you needed to progress on to your chosen A-levels. Terrific! But are you ready for what comes next?

You might find the transition from GCSEs to A-levels a tricky one to adjust to and you won't be the only one if you do! Your teachers will understand that it takes some getting used to, and you should find that your courses have a settling-in period.

So while you won’t be dropped in the deep end straight away, there's still a lot to get used to when making the leap.

Unhappy with your GCSE results? Take a look at our guide on appealing GCSE grades.

Teaching style and workload

You’ll find yourself in smaller classes at A-level or other advanced-level qualifications such as Btecs, which most universities now accept, meaning your contribution to group activities and discussions is far more valued. Therefore preparation for classes will be key, revising notes from the previous class to refresh your mind, and without being prompted to do so.

Prepping for these classes is one worthwhile way to use those new free periods which you'll have. Rather than sitting on YouTube in the common room, make the most of all this newfound time.

Because you'll be studying fewer subjects, you need to be fully engaged with each of them. This is why it’s so important to choose A-levels you'll enjoy and find interesting.

Assignments will generally have higher word counts, too. While you might feel the air taken out of you at first as you see word counts for essays steadily increase, you will grow accustomed to this.

To really succeed, you’ll have to sharpen your ability to form well-structured arguments by drawing on further examples to support your case, meaning extra reading will also be required of you outside of class.

There will be more of an onus on you to manage your own workload and proactively seek out advice from your tutor when you need it. This is all preparation for independent study at university.

Pick up revision tips and hacks in our special advice section

College culture

You might also be starting at a new college or sixth form, which will bring with it its own challenges as you adjust to a new location, new friends and new classmates (even more so if you go from a boys- or girls-only school to a mixed one!).

The general culture will probably be more relaxed no uniforms, perhaps not having to address teachers as 'Mr' or 'Miss' and free periods as part of your timetable. The looser rules put more emphasis on you to manage your time and studies effectively, and more independently. 

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University looming

Whether university is your chosen path or not, you might find those big questions about your future looming ever present throughout your sixth form years. You'll need to juggle these from choosing a degree subject and completing your Ucas application, to going to open days or university interviews  alongside your studies.

Your college or school will provide support to ensure you’re on track to get to where you want to be. Don't lose sight of those A-level exams and grades you need to work towards to get to that end goal.

See where your A-levels will take you, enter them into our Explorer tool

Managing responsibilities

You're also probably starting to take on further responsibilities beyond your studies and it's your job to balance these responsibilities with your studies.

Perhaps that includes a part-time job – so you can begin to build a CV  driving lessons, hobbies and clubs – which might contribute towards your personal statement  as well as spending time with your friends.

Watch now: How to choose your A-levels


Where could your A-levels take you?

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