My name is Hariya Dulai, and I am currently studying Biology, Chemistry and French for my A levels. I’m in year 12, and the start of sixth form has already gone so fast. Moving from year 11 to sixth form has been amazing, and starting the A levels that I enjoy so much makes going to school even better. It’s currently coming up to the end of September, and most of my free time is already taken up by revision. Of course, A levels will be the years that you work your hardest, and to do that… Well, I’m here to share how I’m coping with my transition and more!
Transitioning from being a year 11 student to a year 12 one must be the best thing ever! Being a sixth former has its many perks, and that’s what I love so much - the ID badges, free periods, wearing your own clothes etc. Adjusting to becoming a sixth form student has been very smooth, mainly due to my organisation and punctuality. One essential tip I would highly recommend is organising your notes and classwork in a folder right from the beginning. By keeping all your work in the same wallet or just folded in your bag will make life much harder than things need to be. Use dividers in your folder to separate work from each subject in the beginning. As your notes increase, you can transfer your notes, homework and classwork into an individual folder.
Another piece of advice is to utilise your free periods wisely. By wisely, I don’t mean to use all your free periods and free time at home studying, revising, and working. Your brain won’t retain so much information all at once. Utilise your free time by completing homework tasks and condensing notes made in class- if you have nothing to do in your free period, don’t hesitate just to relax and talk to your friends (research shows that talking to your friends about classwork is more likely to be remembered than learning from a teacher or by yourself).
If you just want to talk to your friends about anything other than work that’s perfectly fine. Although your teachers will push you to work hard and use all your time to revise, sometimes this is inefficient. Let’s be honest, revising after studying for six or more hours becomes boring and is, essentially, ineffective. Your brain needs rest, and so do you, so take care of yourself first before attempting to work ahead.
Eating well is also a very important factor throughout your time in sixth form. Many students will prioritise work over food during break and lunchtimes; however, if you aren’t feeding your body, then there is no energy to keep you active. Alongside working on some homework or extra notes, make sure to eat (healthy, may I also say)!
Choosing what A levels you want to do can be very difficult. Personally, picking my A levels were relatively easy for me as I know what career I want to pursue and which courses I also enjoy. The main questions to ask yourself are:
- Did I do well in this subject for GCSE?
- Did I enjoy this course at GCSE?
- Is this an A level I need for the career I want to do? If not, are there any other careers that interest me and link with this course I want to choose?
By asking yourself these questions, you won’t have to worry about anything else. Do NOT pick an A level just because your friends are doing it! I have seen so many students in my year change their subjects because they found the work tough and unenjoyable. Why did they pick it in the first place? Because their friend chose it. Your future does not depend on the fact that your friends are or aren’t in your lessons but depends on the courses you are studying - which are different to everyone.
Studying an A level course that you enjoy is extremely important as the workload will be much greater than in year 11. Not to frighten anyone, but most teachers will expect homework tasks to be completed and notes to be made by your next lesson. Time management is not a problem here (only if you utilise your free time efficiently). Still, it’s mainly how interesting the work is. Teachers will move on swiftly from each sub-topic to another, and next thing you know, you’ve completed the first chapter of you’re course in a matter of days!
Let me introduce Steve. Steve has been attending all his lessons and is attentive during class. Within two weeks, he has completed the first chapter in his Chemistry A level course and will have an exam next lesson. Steve’s next lesson is in three days. On top of work from his other subjects, he must make keynotes and revise the whole of chapter one in three days. Realistically, Steve isn’t going to be able to make notes on and remember all the key information, definition, and equations before the exam. Don’t be like Steve; write out the relevant information into shorter notes after every lesson!
Becoming a sixth form student will be such an exciting and thrilling experience. By shifting to independence and being an efficient student, life in sixth form will be the most amazing two years ever! Remember, don’t overwork but also keep on top of everything and attempt to read ahead if you feel like you are coping well.
Thanks for reading!