Making the transition from high school to sixth form/ college will be challenging and I’m sure you’ve already heard a lot of things from lots of different people. At the end of the day, we all experience A Levels differently whether that be the subjects we do, where we study or who we are surrounded by. However, in this post I wanted to bullet point 50 things that I think everyone should know before starting sixth form. These range from studying tips to pieces of advice to just little reminders, but I hope any of you making this jump can gain something from it.
I am hoping to do a couple of sixth form/ A Level related content so do let me know if you find this post useful and what else you would like to see!
- NO ONE REALLY CARES ABOUT WHAT YOU GOT IN YOUR GCSES
Doesn’t matter if you got all 9s or failed maths and English, you’re back in the same boat now.
- BE PREPARED TO PUT THE TIME AND WORK IN
Goes without saying, this is a step up from GCSEs.
- IT’S OKAY TO CHANGE YOU A LEVEL SUBJECTS A COUPLE OF WEEKS IN
I switched to Further Maths days before October half term, and look at me now. It’s never too late to change subjects as long as you’re willing to play catch up.
- DON’T JUST DO WHAT YOUR FRIENDS ARE DOING
It will come back to bite you.
- YOU NEED TO LIKE YOUR SUBJECTS
The subjects you study are in such depth, you need to like them, be interested in them and be pretty good at them too.
- YOUR TEACHERS WILL TREAT YOU DIFFERENTLY
It’s true, the respect your teachers gain for you reaches a whole other level.
- REACH OUT TO YOUR TEACHERS FOR GUIDANCE, HELP OR ADVICE
They act as your mentors, so reach out to them when you need them.
- YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO ASK FOR THEIR HELP AT SOME POINT
You will reach this point, so just bite the bullet and get into the habit of it early.
- PUT YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD AND IMPRESS YOUR TEACHERS
A good impression is always the best way to start your time at sixth form. Don’t forget that they’re writing your references.
- KEEP ON TOP OF YOUR NOTES FROM THE BEGINNING
Everyone says it and it’s true, I promise you’ll thank yourself later.
- PRINT OUT THOSE SPECIFICATIONS BEFORE YOU EVEN START
Know what you need to know before you even start.
- YOU REALLY DO NEED A PLANNER
Or anything to write stuff down, because you should write it all down!
- DON’T SET UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
You’re going to struggle and it will be hard, so don’t expect too much of yourself.
- TRY NOT TO BE DISAPPOINTED WITH YOUR FIRST FEW GRADES
The only way is up as they say.
- YOU DON’T DO THAT MUCH IN LESSONS
It’s more about the application in lessons, but it does mean you’re expected to do a lot in between lessons to learn the content, and the extra work.
- IT’S NOT AS HARD AS EVERYONE SAYS IT IS, AT THE BEGINNING
Maybe this was a personal discovery, but you don’t notice the difficulty at the start. It starts managable but you will struggle at one point.
- BUT YOU’RE ALSO GOING TO DO BETTER THAN YOU THINK
You learn and develop more with time, so don’t be so hard on yourself if you struggle at first. Give it some time, because you will be better than you think.
- WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN
Deadline, extra reading, extra information, tips and tricks. Anything that could be remotely useful, just make a note of it.
- EXTRA READING IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA
Obviously prioritise but it is a good idea, espeically for those essay subjects.
- KEEP ALL OF THOSE HANDOUTS
You never know when you might need them.
- KEEP YOUR FILES/ BOOKS ORGANISED FROM THE BEGINNING
Don’t let the organisation slip, always take the time to organise your work however best it works for you.
- DO REVISE FOR THOSE ‘POINTLESS’ EXAMS
Revise for those mocks and small exams, otherwise a global pandemic might hit and you won’t get the grades you wanted... It’s true though, they count towards your predicted grades, and it’s always good to stay on your teacher’s good side.
- YOUR FRIENDSHIPS ARE GOING TO CHANGE
It’s only natural. You lose contact with people, and you build relationships with new people.
- ALWAYS LOOK AT SAMPLE ANSWERS
Definitely the easiest way to adapt into A Level–style answers.
- THE INDEPENDENCE IS FUN, BUT SOON FADES
Free lessons, driving, responsibilty can all be fun but it doesn’t last forever.
- ALWAYS TRY TO MEET YOUR DEADLINES
You don’t want to owed work to be piling up, so meet your deadlines. Fight the perfectionism and just give it your best short under that time frame.
- ALEVEL-STYLE ANSWERS WILL COME WITH TIME
There will be a day when things will just click for you, it will come.
- REMEMBER TO WRITE DOWN YOUR WEAK POINTS ACADEMICALLY
Topics you’ve struggled with, criteria you haven’t met, key information you’re forgetting. Make a note of it.
- YOU NEED TO BE YOUR OWN MOTIVATOR
Only you can make the most out of your time at sixth form and the A Levels you achieve. You’re teachers aren’t going to motivate you, it’s up to you.
- BE OPEN TO MEETING NEW PEOPLE
Whether you are going to a school with all new people or just a few, try and meet some new friends, get out your comfort zone a bit.
- THE SOONER YOUR START LOOKING AT POST A LEVEL CHOICES THE BETTER
It can feel intense but definitely try to start researching.
- BUT TRY NOT TO FEEL OVERWHELMED IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO
So many other people feel exactly like this so don’t work yourself up over it. Not knowing is completely okay.
- STAY OPEN-MINDED
You never know what might come your way, people, future prospects, opporunities.
- DO AS MUCH EXTRACURRICULAR AS YOU CAN HANDLE
Think about that UCAS application. It could be anything from jobs, to duties, to hobbies, to extra reading.
- DRAMA IS GOING TO HAPPEN
You’d think we would all have grown up by then… no there is always going to be drama.
- YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO TO UNI AFTER A LEVELS
There are other options. Placements, gap years, apprenticeships, employment. Don’t feel restricted to university.
- YOUR TEACHERS ARE GOING TO BE TALKING ABOUT UCAS AND UNIVERSITY A LOT
It’s a huge part of your time at sixth form but do talk to your teachers for questions you have.
- THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING MORE TO DO
Extra revision, reading, note taking, sample answers. Once you start sixth form, your list will be never ending. Don’t let it frigten you but learn to prioritise.
- YOUR FRIENDS WILL NEED HELP SOMETIMES TOO
It could be to do with anything, but your friends will need you. It’s a stressful time for everyone and you will need someone to lean on at some stage as well.
- DON’T BOTTLE UP YOUR FEELINGS INSIDE, SOMEONE IS PROBABLY FEELING LIKE THAT TOO
I’ve been there, don’t let it get to the stage where you can’t contain it. Speak to someone.
- YOU’RE NOT GOING TO HAVE A LOT OF SPARE TIME
As I said earlier, you’re always going to be having extra stuff you could be doing so the spare time is limited. But do make time for the things important to you. Friends, family, hobbies.
- ALWAYS LOOK ONLINE FOR EXTRA REVISION RESOURCES
Someone has already done your same course, revised for it and passed it. The likelihood is someone has made their resources avaliable online, so have a little search for them.
- THE MORE PRACTISE PAPERS/ QUESTIONS YOU CAN DO, THE BETTER
If you finish a topic or chapter, practise questions. Have no homework? Practise questions. It really is the best way to revise and get better at your subject.
- KEEP YOUR REVISION SHORT AND CONDENSED
No babble, short and sweet because there will be a lot to learn.
- USE THOSE FREE PERIODS
They are for work and play. But use them to it’s fullest. It could be small productive jobs like organising your folders or printing out loads of past papers. Just make the most out of it.
- PLEASE GET SOME SLEEP
Sleepless nights will happen but do look after you health!
- REMEMBER THAT EVERYTHING WILL WORK ITSELF OUT
What will be, will be. Trust the process. I promise things will work out for you!
- DOCUMENT THE MEMORIES
Take pictures, funny videos, write them down. You’ll will you had done it more.
- BECAUSE IT’S GOING TO GO QUICK
You blink and it’s results day, I’m not even joking. It flys by.
- ENJOY IT
Don’t let the two years go to waste. Times will be difficult and stressful but you should also be able to look back at your time there to say that you enjoyed it.
I really hope that those of you making this jump can find something beneficial in this post. And if anyone else has advice as to what people should do before they start sixth form, then do leave it in the comments!
Lots of love,