My thoughts on A Levels

Like many students in England, before I came to university I studied A Levels at my local college. I saw this as the best way for me to gain a place at university and to learn the skills required to proceed into further education. Like many students however, I underestimated how hard A Levels are and thus, questioned whether I would make it to university or not.

As you may know from previous blog posts, I studied French, English, History and Performing Arts at AS and  A Level and I have to say they were the hardest academic years of my journey so far. Not only are A Levels vastly different from GCSE but the workload increases tenfold and I found it hard to keep up. At GCSE you are taught what you need to pass, essentially being guided through your exam process, learning little tricks to help you. At A Level you are left to your own devices. Yes, you are taught the information necessary to pass but you are expected to go away and research topics you wish to know more about. You have to put in a lot more work outside of college by researching and using your own initiative to pass your course. If you fall behind you are expected to catch up in your own time - there aren't special revision classes put on that specifically target the gaps in your knowledge. If your tutor tells you to research/learn something, I'll give you some advice, do it. I made this mistake in French where I didn't keep up with my vocabulary and it got harder for me to catch up. They're not telling you to learn it for fun, chances are you'll need this information to pass but they aren't about to spoon feed you the information - A Levels are all about gaining transferable skills that you take with you to uni or a job.

Make sure you're organised 
Organisation is something you'll have to keep up with, I was absoultely shocking at organising my work and by the time I came to do it around exam season, it was too late. I wish I had kept all my work organised but I didn't, so I had a year's worth of handouts shoved randomly into a folder - it was chaos. That's why I am so organised with my work at uni as I don't want to end up in the mess I was in at A Levels.

Looking back, I hated A Levels but I am glad I took them. The jump from GCSE to A Level is hell - you'll not know what you're doing for a bit but if you decide to go to university, you'll be thankful for them. I think A Levels exist to show you what not to do, to tell you to be organised and to do the required reading - skills I have definitely brought with me to university. One thing I would say though is do the A Levels you want to do, not the ones that will look the best on an application. The workload is going to get harder and you need to love the subject in order to get on with the work - don't pick it because you're trying to impress universities. I don't know if anyone else has had similar experiences or whether these were just personal to me but A Levels were very academically trying - but the jump from College to university is nowhere near as big.

To those currently studying A Levels: You might hate it now, but think of your end goal. Do you want to go to university? Get a specific job? Focus on your goal rather than where you are now. All the stress will be worth it when you get your results and you can move onto the next chapter in your life. Stick at it! :)

Lottie :)

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