Thoughts on & Tips for A-Levels:

28.8.14


I'll start with tips, and my first and most important one would be don't underestimate just how big a work load it's going to be! All my teachers and all the older students tried to warn me about just how huge the leap between GCSE's to A-Levels and I just didn't believe them I was sure that they'd phase us in slowly and we'd be used to the change but oh how wrong I was! There is no time for phasing in! Trust me when I say (depending on the style of subjects you take of course) that if you want to do well then you'll have to work hard and continue working hard from day one.

A tip to help with that would be stay organised! You can feel easily overwhelmed with the amount of work laid on you but try not to just look at that pile of reading and coursework etc. to do and think you'll leave it to tomorrow because by tomorrow you'll have even more to do. A tip that may seem to contradict this one however, is try to stay calm and relax as much as you can. Yes, do your homework and make sure your notes are in order and you're not missing anything important, but when you've done that take some time out. Catch up on Youtube, read some blogs whatever you fancy just do it. My friends and I cared a lot about our grades and I think put too much pressure on ourselves to the point were we were taking sick days because the thought of going back in made us want to cry.

I don't want to scare you if you're already worried but I feel I have to be honest and this is what my experience was like. I would also say make sure you take the first year as seriously as you can. Don't just tell yourself you'll catch up your grades next year because the better you do in the first year the better you'll do in the second year which is what will get you into University or not. Speaking of University, make sure you book plenty of open days, do your research into what you want to do and sort your UCAS out as soon as you possibly can, believe me I remember everyone telling me to do it and I just couldn't be bothered, but once you get started you can do it fairly quickly and it's a huge weight off your shoulders as well as the fact now you've applied to Universities you know what grades you've got to work towards. 

One thing I will say though is that don't let it get you down too much. Constantly remind yourself that it's  not life or death. If you don't understand something then it's your teachers job to help you. When it comes to results day if you don't get what you thought you would then I wouldn't let that upset you too much. That's what insurance offers are for! Or even clearing if you need it. There's no shame in it and I know of people who went through clearing and now couldn't imagine themselves anywhere else. 

In terms of my personal experience with A-Levels, I'd say in all honesty that it did nothing but bring me down and make me doubt my ability and intelligence. At the end of the day my grades were my own (I got a B in Psychology and 2 C's in Theology and English) and it was my responsibility to work towards what I wanted, but if I was to blame something in particular for my grades not being where I wanted them to be (2 A's and a B) then I have to say the teaching staff at my school was pretty shocking. In my first year I went through 3 English teachers, because 2 of them left to have children (of course not their fault), I then went through 3 Theology teachers because one of them had a serious illness and the other refused to teach us the new curriculum! Literally refused, he was determined on teaching us a course from the 90's. As for the third teacher he was new to the subject so he really shouldn't have been teaching A-Level, he didn't seem to know what was going on himself. As for the second year they bought back the teacher that was teaching the wrong curriculum and our other teacher was far more interested in telling us about his holidays and getting distracted (that was if he ever bothered showing up at all to teach us!). We had two new English teachers, the first was another fresh out of University who would there with her mouth hanging open, when she did talk to us it was (I kid you not) her going on about her ex-boyfriend. Whenever we tried to ask her a question we'd be met with a long gormless pause and then an "Ummm...I'll Google it". There was many a time we'd all walk in sit down and she wouldn't even have planned a lesson. She'd ask us what we thought she should do and sit there texting. Our other English teacher I have to say was a complete and utter ANGEL! She saved us all and taught us not only her side of the course but everything else we were missing out on in the other lessons. She was the kindest of women and became all of our shoulder's to cry on whether about our home lives or A-Levels. 

Personally, I think A-Levels are just a letter at the end of the day. They don't represent intelligence just ability to remember folders of information. They're also dependant on how you're feeling on that one day of your exam, what questions come up, how harshly they are being marked and so much more. I may have passed mine but even if I didn't I don't think that they would affect who I am as a person. I also think it's far too much pressure to be putting on a person who isn't even legally an adult yet to chose their future when all they should be worried about is having fun and being young. By putting kids through this they either have to sacrifice their youth or be called stupid and have to sacrifice their grades. I believe that our grades should be about how much effort we put in throughout the year, how well we have developed, how well we know the entire course not just the random questions put into the paper. 

If you're going through A-Levels then do take them seriously but please remember they aren't the end of the world! 

xxx