Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Re-sitting your A-Levels & A-Level Tips

I first went in to Sixth Form September 2012.  I did well in my GCSE's however it took a lot of hard work.  I am the type of student who doesn't get everything straight away, I have to be told it over and over again before it sinks in.  In my GCSE's I got 8 C's two B's and 1 A.  I was very very pleased with these results as firstly I was only predicted D's, so I worked my but off to not allow that to happen and secondly because I didn't fail one subject.

I then decided I wanted to go on to do my A-levels.  I chose Biology, History, Business Studies and Performing Arts.  Most teachers said these were a very random pick of subjects but I didn't know what I wanted to be when I was older so I just picked subjects I enjoyed at GCSE and ones I knew would be good to get employment with.  I didn't except the jump from GCSE's to A-levels to be as difficult as it was, A-levels are a completely different ball game and all need a lot of attention from you.  That whole year I discovered I loved acting, however this came at a cost.  I put all my effort in to drama and I left the other subjects untouched, just doing enough school work to get by, and I focused all of my attention on to Drama.  When results day came I wasn't too happy.  I came out with an A* in Performing Arts but an E in all my other subjects.  My head of sixth then suggested it wasn't good for me to go through to year 13, as I would have to do all my A2 exams whilst re-sitting some AS exams, it would have been far too much work.  So I resat.

I wasn't too happy at first but re-sitting turned out to be great for me.  I got to change Biology to ICT and I improved my grade is History from an E to a B.  I made lots of new friends and got an extra year to think about what I wanted to do in life.  Or at least after Sixth Form.  

If you are like me and did not get the results you wanted try not to worry, if you know why you didn't pass and in your next year you're going to try extra hard to pass then re-sitting isn't too bad.  Some people that re-sit the year come out with grades better than anyone in the year group as they know what is excepted of A-Level students.

If you have just done your GCSE's and are going on to do you A-Levels here are some tips from someone who has done the first year twice hehe. 

1) Don't prioritise one subject 
Don't be like me in my first year.  I was going to after school drama rehearsals three - four times a week, I was always in school doing drama in the holidays, and I focused on my lines and log book way too much.  I did improve my drama massively but it came at a cost.  You need to give each A Level the same amount of time.  Teachers suggest three hours a day of study.  Use the website www.getrevising.com to make yourself a study timetable and stick to it giving each subject the same amount of time.  Don't just always do your favourite and say you're "studying"  

2) Plan your studies 
Don't just say:  Monday = History.  Say in your timetable exactly what you're going to do, and slot yourself some breaks in to your timetable, every 30 minutes or so.

3) Pick subjects you enjoy 
Don't just pick subjects because they sound academic, I don't care what any one says you need to pick subjects your going to do the work for, because if you don't enjoy what you're learning about you won't learn it, you'll just ignore it.  That being said don't just pick a subject because you think it is easy, all A Levels are hard, sense the name.  A = Advanced level. 

4) Pick wisely 
If you want a certain job and to go to university have a look at the entry requirements for that course because that may effect the A Levels you choose.  For example, if you want to be a doctor you're going to have to do the Sciences.  But if you want to go in to Law, they look more for essay based courses like History, English, R.E. 

5) Talk to your teachers
At A-Level your teachers become your best friends, honestly you need them on your side, they know the course inside and out and they know how the examiners mark the papers.  Bring them back essays and past papers, ask them questions.  Don't be afraid.  Teachers are there to help, honestly most teachers are much nicer when you go back to see them anyway as it shows you have an interest in the subject.  I got a U in women's history the first year around but I just wouldn't leave my teacher alone I kept bringing him back essays to mark and kept trying to improve on where I went wrong.  From that I now have an A in women's history.

6) Use year 13 students 
Year 13s won't bite, they have done the subject before too and can give advice from a students point of view and they know exactly what you're going through. 

7) Buy the revision guides
The revision guides may seem like a waste of money when we have resources like Google at our finger tips, but let me tell you they are a life saver.  They are all filled with course material and most of them have a section at the back with A grade example essays.  This is a tool I always find useful to read as you can't find them in many other places.  Plus they always have them bad jokes in them which do make you laugh hehe.

8) Learn how to answers the questions being asked 
This is a skill that is so so hard to master (well I think so).  At A Level the examiners go sneaky, they make the questions sound much more complex than they really are, this makes a lot of students trip up and start rambling.  When you start to ramble you cause yourself to make lots of mistakes and end up not even answering the question. 

9) Don't waste your free periods 
I know how easy it is to go over to the vending machine and get yourself a 60p creamy choc, but no!!  Get that at break, free periods are precious time and need to be used wisely to study.  (This took me a while to get over, so don't worry you're not alone).

10) Have a break, don't stress 
Honestly teachers and maybe your parents will make you feel like your A Levels are the most important things in life and if you don't pass them you're the biggest failure ever!  WRONG!  They are important yes, but if you don't get them don't worry A Levels are not for everyone, they were never designed to be for everyone.  It doesn't mean you can't be successful in life, as long as you always try your best no one can ask for any more from you.  It's only bad when you don't try but don't understand why your grades are like they are.  You need to be honest with yourself. 

Good luck everyone, it's not long until we go back to school now!.  I hope these tips helped, if there is anything else you would like to know feel free to leave a comment below.  I would be happy to help ^_^.

Love Laura xxx

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