A-Levels from GCSEs: How To Best Transition


Get Ready For The Step Up To A-Levels!

The move from secondary school to college can be both an exciting time and also very daunting. Having spent five years preparing for GCSEs, A-Levels present a new challenge which can be scary. Alternatively, I bounded into Year 12 overconfident, only to be taken down a few pegs under a tough curriculum. However you feel about heading to Sixth Form in September, it can be useful to receive some preparatory insights. Therefore, here are a few tips on how to transition from GCSEs to A-Levels.

Course choices

Much like GCSEs, you have the opportunity to decide which subjects to study for A-Levels. This time though, there is a lot more freedom for choice rather than a curated pathway managed by the teachers. According to Wikipedia at the time of writing, there are eighty-nine Advanced Level subjects to pick from. Shaving this down to just four can be tricky, made more difficult when you have to focus on three courses in second year. Read in depth your college’s prospectus to see everything they offer.

For me, I piled into Maths, Further Maths and Chemistry as they were my strongest GCSE subjects. The fourth subject was Accounting, which was the career path I had been advised during school. I recommend trying a new topic as it could potentially open up a future job opportunity you weren’t aware of. Similarly, unlike myself, I would diversify the type of subjects to develop different ways of thinking and problem solving. Not only does this look good on your CV but it can be more interesting too! Apprenticeships and University will allow you to further hone your skills in a specific area.


One of the college aspects I had been most excited for was free periods between lessons. Lie-ins on a weekday felt like a cheat code; the freedom of a long lunch off-campus or an early weekend. These are great but only, and I must emphasise this, as treats. My weekly fast-food pilgrimages resulted in an empty wallet; early mornings became tougher due to inconsistent starts. Moreover, I advise maintaining the routine of starting and finishing at the same time each day. Keeping this habit lets your brain know when’s the right time to study and when you can actually rest.

Revision / Homework

These aforementioned habits lend themselves to the revision and homework schedule. I was told A-Levels were a big step up, but I didn’t listen. Now I, and the majority of my peers, would like to reiterate this point: it’s a big step up. Whilst you are studying less topics, the course content is more detailed and harder than GCSEs. Making use of your free periods at college to complete additional work will help you to keep on top of a rigorous schedule. Furthermore, the library offers a great space to collaborate with friends – help each other out with the tougher questions!

Every college experience is a unique one, and there’s lots more to it than I’ve highlighted here. It’s a place that allows room to grow socially, as well as in an educational sense. Hopefully, taking onboard some of these tips will help prepare yourself to transition from GCSEs to A-Levels.

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