GCSE exams can seem daunting for many young students, but A-levels present further challenges. The expectations at GCSE level are relatively uniform, and for the most part students can simply memorise a lot of required information. A-levels may involve fewer subjects, but the understanding required of students is much deeper. Consequently, many students enter A-levels without being fully prepared for either the transition or the changes involved.
Advice on Preparing
Though A-levels may seem daunting, there is a lot that can be gained from good preparation. Here’s some advice on how to prepare for them:
- Subject decisions: It is important that you identify which of the A-level subjects you will take. Every subject at this level requires more work, more reading, and deeper understanding and comprehension. There is simply no point in choosing an A-level subject with which you will not engage. A-levels are tough enough without the added pressure of studying a subject that does not engage you!
- Relationships: Because A-levels involve fewer students, the class sizes are smaller. This also means that you will have a much closer relationship with each subject teacher. This is part of the transition that many students are simply not prepared for, and the shock of dealing with smaller class sizes and a more intimate setting for learning can intimidate many students who are used to being a number at the back of the class. When doing A-levels, expect to have a close relationship with your teachers and your subject tutors. It’s not bad news though. A stronger relationship with your teachers will ensure that you get more attention and experience more learning!
- Subject difficulty: Even though you should always try to study subjects that will engage you, it is also true that some A-level subjects demand a lot more from students. Subjects like history, chemistry, and maths are especially tough, but organisation is the key to doing well in any A-level subject.
- Freedom: GCSE is highly structured, and many students come to depend on the guidance and handholding that goes along with it. A-levels, by contrast, allow much more personal freedom. Not only will you be in much smaller classes, but more will be expected of you in terms of your comprehension and deeper understanding of a subject. You may not even need to wear a uniform. Some students thrive in this type of environment, where others find it frightening because they have become used to the rigid structure of GCSE studies.
- Tutoring: Never be afraid to take advantage of the services of specialised subject tutors at A-level. The more you learn, the better you will do, and the more you will achieve. In fact, many A-level students themselves seek a tutor job in London as a good way to earn extra income.
Take the Leap
Even though there is a significant leap in terms of difficulty and expectation between GCSE level studies and A-level studies, a student can do a lot to prepare for the transition. Understanding the differences and the expectations involved is key to preparing well.