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Transitioning from GCSEs to A-levels? Tips and advice from Justin Craig Education

With the school year now in full swing, many Year 12 students may be struggling to come to terms with the differences and increased demands of being a Sixth Former. So, what’s so hard about being a Year 12 student? Despite studying fewer subjects, the subject content is significantly greater; it’s also much harder, requiring students to display new and enhanced exam and study skills. When combined with the need for students to work much more independently and deal with a multitude of demands on their time, it’s no surprise that so many students find the transition to A-level challenging.

As many schools let students change subjects during the first half term, this is also the time to double check that the subjects being studied are consistent with student aspirations, whether that be University, vocational careers or apprenticeships.

To help students settle in more quickly and get the best A-level results possible, our top 5 recommendations are:

  • Be mentally prepared by acknowledging that Year 12 is a big shift and being open to the changes that this shift will cause. It's important to ask for help if needed and to seek help sooner rather than later. For example, don't wait until revision time or homework deadline if having difficulty with a topic or question. 
  • Getting organised is crucial for successful A-level students. By using a diary/planner and getting into a good study routine, students can help make the most of their precious time and keep track of deadlines. Ensuring notes are complete and well organised will also make revision and homework easier and less time consuming. 
  • Revise throughout the year rather than just in the run up to exams. Revisiting information, even something as simple as going through notes at the end of the week, helps ensure students have a good understanding of areas covering and embed the information in their memory. Then, when it comes to more complex concepts and actual revision time, students will have a good foundation upon which to build, giving them more time for applying and testing their knowledge rather than just learning. 
  • Use 'free periods' wisely. For the first time, many students will have a significant amount of free time at school. Whilst tempting to chat with friends, free periods should be thought of as study time and planned ahead. Using a planner/diary to schedule subjects/task for each free period will help make the most of this time and mean there will be less to do when at home. 
  • Detailed curriculum and assessment objectives are available for every subject and are an invaluable tool for students as they set out exactly what and how they are going to be assessed. In addition to helping students tackle and answer questions effectively, they are also a really useful tool for tutors to explain what students need to improve upon.  

When it comes to revision techniques to achieve A-level exam success, there are many different methods and approaches. However, Dr Crouch from Justin Craig Education advises: ‘Whatever revision method you use, make sure it works for you and don’t leave preparation until the very last minute.’

Justin Craig is the UK's leading provider of GCSE and A-level revision courses for year 10-13 students, with over 35 years experience, and centres nationwide. Pioneering group tutoring and revision since 1981, Justin Craig has helped over 100,000 UK students secure their university place.

For further information visit www.justincraig.ac.uk