As you may have seen on social media recently, it has been results day for both A Level and GCSE students. In Wales, we sit some of our A Levels within year 12 (the first year) and then finish them off in the second whereas, as far as I’m aware, most schools in England tend to sit them all in year 13 (the second year).
I had always been told that going in to sixth form was going to be a big jump but never really believed it. It was about 4 weeks in that I then realised how much of a step up it was and from the very first assembly we were told to start thinking about university which at the time, I was clueless about.
At the beginning of the year, I started by taking 4 subjects plus Welsh Bacc (which is a qualification most schools have to do in Wales and counts as another A Level). These subjects were art, photography, IT and media studies. It took me just a few months to realise that these options were too much work for me and I hated art so made the decision to drop it, this is one of the best decisions that I made this year as it freed up so much time for my other subjects. Whilst completing this year, I also had a part time job which I also had to give up just before exams as it was all becoming too much to handle. This proved to me how much of a commitment A Levels are but going in to them I never expected them to take up so much time, so if in September you are going in to year 12, I’d say to not have any expectations of the workload and try your best to keep organised.
I was on holiday when my first year results got released but luckily my friend was able to get them for me and send me a picture. When first finding out what they were, I was a little dissapointed when seeing a C grade in IT, this is purely because I had put so much time and work in to this subject but felt it hadn’t fully paid off. However, I was happy with my 2 other grades which were an A in photography and a B in media studies. After taking time to reflect on these grades, I am now really pleased and it has made me want to work even harder next year to get my IT grade to a B. We were also informed at the beginning of the year that A Levels are twice as hard as GCSE’s so we should expect to go down 2 grades of what we got then, for example: an A in maths would drop to a C etc.
I understand that many people I know were also not pleased with their exams and unfortunately many people have now decided to drop out of sixth form or start completely new somewhere else. This is a real eye-opener and proves the point that so many people underestimate how hard A Levels are and how big of a commitment they are. At the same time, these grades aren’t the be-all or end-all, you can still be successful without A Levels!!
Personally, I found that the best ways of revising for me have been:
- Making notes and reading them over and over each night (media and IT)
- Colour coded mind maps stuck all over my walls so I can always read them (both)
- Making posters containing quotes (for media studies)
- Posters which contained key theories (media studies)
- Past paper questions (IT)
- Constantly practising how to create a website, database and spreadsheet (IT)
- Checking up with teachers to make sure you are doing the right things and getting them to mark answers (both)
I really hope that this post was useful and gave an honest insight in to what A Levels are really like and what my experience has been like. My intent was to not scare anyone but to make it more aware. Some people may have completely different experiences to me as everyone deals with things in different ways which I fully respect!
Thank you for reading! If you would like to follow me on Instagram or Twitter you can find me at @bethxkate.