How to successfully transition from GCSE to A Level

How to successfully transition from GCSE to A LevelIt's a well known fact that it's not easy to make the transition from GCSE to A Level.

A Levels are hard. Really hard in comparison to GCSEs.

What's so hard about them? Well, there's a number of the things:

  • The quantity of work you need to do
  • The amount of work you need to do independently
  • The difficulty of the content

So, to help you make this notoriously tricky transition I'm sharing my top tips to help you successfully step up from GCSE to A Level.

How to successfully transition from GCSE to A Level

Be mentally prepared

I've told you that it's going to be hard and it's going to take some getting used to. However, having been there and done that (and watched many others do it) I can tell you that you're not going to believe how big the step-up is until you actually make it.

The only thing I can liken it to (and hopefully you haven't yet got experience of this) is the change that happens to you when you have a baby. People who are already parents warn you over, and over again how much your life is about to change but until it actually happens to you you can't possibly get your head around the seismic shift you're about to experience.

Now, the change from GCSE to A Level isn't quite as big as having a baby – but it's probably the biggest change you'll have experienced in your life so far. This is my advice to cope with it on a psychological level:

  • Fully take on board that a big shift is coming in your life
  • Be open to the changes that this shift will cause
  • Be ready to embrace the challenge and the opportunities for both learning and personal growth that this step up represents
  • Be ready to ask for help if you need it

Get organised

Organisation is going to be crucial from now on. You're going to need to keep carefully track of deadlines, keep your notes really well organised (and complete) and have everything with you everyday that you'll need: stationery and text books.

Organisation is crucial to successfully transition from GCSE to A Level Click To Tweet

I've already written about the essential back to school stationery list on the blog. If you want more detail about how to get organised and keep organised check out my book The Ten Step Guide to Acing Every Exam You Ever Take.

Do the work, from Day 1

A big part of the step-up to A Level is being prepared to do the work. If you're one of those people who sailed through GCSEs without doing much homework or revision then you're in for a big shock. A Levels take work for everybody.

If you want to come out of your two years in the sixth form with grades to be proud of you can't leave the work until Easter Term of Year 13. You need to start doing the work on day 1, and keep it up throughout the two years. It's the tortoise, not the hare, that wins the A Level race.

If you want to succeed in the sixth form you need to start doing the work from day 1. Click To Tweet

One way to make sure that you do the work is to create yourself a weekly routine and stick to it.

Use your study periods to study

When you suddenly get the freedom of study periods in the middle of the school day it can be very tempting to use them as a very attractive social opportunity. However, this is how you fritter away your years in the sixth form and get disappointing grades.

Your study periods are there for you to study. Use them wisely. Find a quiet place in the library or in a tucked away corner and study, don't waste your precious time chatting with friends.

Get help as you go along

If you're finding a topic difficult or haven't understood a particular lesson you need to sort that problem out in the here and now. Don't leave it until revision time to make sure you understand your whole syllabus – you'll save yourself so much time and stress as well as getting better marks if you sort these problems out day by day as you go along.

Do practice questions

I've spoken to lots of students in my free 15 minute coaching sessions who've used all the tips I've given and still been disappointed by their grades. What's the difference between a hard-working student who gets As and A*s and one who gets Ds and Es?

The difference between hard working students who get As and Ds is how well they think like an examiner Click To Tweet

It's how well they understand the mark scheme and learn to think like an examiner. Even if you do hundreds of practice questions, if you don't mark your own work, learn how to recognise a good answer and how to improve your work it's a waste of time.

Start doing revision power hours in week one to make sure you come out with the top marks at the end of year 13.

Do you want to start year 12 in the right way so you're set up to do the work, have some work-life balance, get the top grades and into your first choice of university? If your answer is yes, check out my private coaching packages and book a call to talk to me about whether you're a good fit. I'm ready and waiting to help you achieve your dreams with confidence.

Checkout my private coaching packages now

Over to you…

Leave me a comment below to let me know:

  1. If you're just starting year 12, what are you most worried about in the transition from GCSE to A Level?
  2. If you're in year 13, what advice would you give to anyone starting year 12?

I'm looking forward to reading your contribution and will reply to every one of them.

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