Starting a new chapter of your education can be daunting. A lot of us ponder around in the summer wondering what to expect, and how we can prepare for the transition.
Here’s a few things that you can do over the summer to ensure you’re as prepared as possible to begin your A-Level studies!
The majority of people have chosen their subjects at the end of the academic year, ready to start in September. However, if you haven’t then it’s time to start weighing up your options in regards to what you want to study. Think of the pros and cons of each subject, and how they’re assessed (exams or coursework)!
Don’t pick a subject just because your friends are picking it, or because you think it’s going to be easy. Pick things that you’re going to enjoy studying, and will benefit your future. Your A-Levels are basically the starting point to carving out your career path.
Remember that most schools and colleges have a few weeks at the start to allow for any subject changes. If you’re scared you won’t be happy with what you’ve chosen, you will have the option to change them if you speak to your tutor.
Print the Specification
The specification for each subject is basically a long list of everything you’ll cover and be expected to know by the end of your studies. It’s a great thing to have a look over, so you understand what to expect from the subject.
If you’re unsure of what exam board you’re on for each subject, email a tutor at your school/college to find out! Once you’ve found that out, you can google your subject and exam board followed by ‘specification’ to find it on their website.
I’d advise you to print it out, or even create a checklist from it to use when you start studying. It’ll be a lifesaver when it comes to revision to ensure you’ve covered everything that could possibly be on the exam.
Textbooks are an essential when it comes to studying A-Levels. As we’ve just come to the end of the academic year, a lot of people who are progressing to the next stage of their education will be flogging their textbooks online.
Use sites such as eBay, Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree to purchase second hand textbooks. They’ll save you an absolute fortune and you’ll be able to resell these when you’re done with them.
I used eBay to purchase all of my textbooks for A-Levels! Make sure that you know what exam board you’re on, so you purchase the right textbook.
Past Exam Papers
Past papers are absolute life savers, as most people probably know. Due to COVID-19 cancelling GCSE’s, a lot of people may be starting A-Levels never having sat an actual exam paper under exam conditions in their life.
When searching for your specification for each subject, you’ll also find past exam papers on the exam boards website too. I understand a lot of people have anxiety surrounding exams, so this is the best way to ensure you’re as prepared as possible.
Have a read over the papers so that you understand how the exam will be carried out, how much time you’ll have, what the format is like and to prepare you for what to expect in regards to them. Remember to bookmark these pages and save them for future revision. It’s so important to do practice questions often!
If you’re taking a subject at A-Level that you’ve also done at GCSE, then recap the content. It’s the foundation of your knowledge and most content taught at A-Level will simply be elaborated on from what you should know from GCSE.
If there’s any content that wasn’t covered due to COVID-19, ensure you go back over that, make notes and briefly test your understanding. Of course content will be recapped, but only very quickly.
Recapping content will save you so much time. It’ll allow you to take in the new A-Level content there and then, and build on your understanding, in oppose to you having to come home and reteach yourself it all. It’ll also establish some sort of routine in regards to recapping content, which is what you’ll need to be doing frequently at A-Level.
Have a look at the specification and use the textbooks to start reading over some content. It’ll prepare you for what you’re going to be taught, and will allow you to have a head start over the summer.
Aim to do at least an hour a week over the summer!
You’ve progressed into the next stage of your education, so if you’ve just finished your GCSE’s then obviously things are going to be different. It’s important to prepare yourself for change when it comes to your A-Levels.
You may need to do things differently, and this is something I struggled with when I started. I tried to use the exact same method I used for GCSE’s, for A-Levels, and it just didn’t work. Be prepared to switch things up and have resources and ideas ready to apply them.
You may also need to spend more time on your studies, at A-Level it’s almost impossible to go into an exam and ‘wing it’. Prepare to set aside some time each week for your studies, and factor it around other things such as socialising and part-time work.
Enjoy your Summer
This is the most important thing you can do to prepare, enjoy your summer. Spend time relaxing with your friends and family, doing things you enjoy and making memories.
You won’t have long summers like you do between each academic year forever, so make the most of them while you do!
Good luck to everyone starting their A-Levels in September, or even continuing their A-Level studies. Keep positive and remember you can do anything you put your mind to!