The Jump from GCSEs to A Levels in 2020

You were a solid 87% of the way through your GCSE course before the examinations were all cancelled by our one and only, prime minister Boris Johnson.

Since then it feels like we’ve lived through a whole lifetime. With some of us experiencing intense bonding time with family and others learning to cope with isolation and loneliness, the lockdown period was certainly something ‘unprecedented’. And now you’re about to start on the wild rollercoaster of sixth form or college!

What do you do? How do you prepare? Should you revise some content beforehand or just completely chill out? This article will answer a few questions.

In terms of work, there are two things which you can do, and are most likely recommended in this instance. 

Firstly, review your GCSE work for the subjects you’ll be studying from September. Just lightly revise the GCSE content - make sure you remember basic principles. Don’t bother with revising exam technique because it’s completely different in sixth form. You won’t need to know how to answer questions GCSE style - except for maybe knowing how to do a PEE paragraph if you’re planning to do an essay-based subject.

Secondly, you can get a hold of some CGP books in the series ‘Head Start to A Level …’ for your subject. I.e. ‘Head Start to A Level Biology’. I truly believe that the content in these books are well summarised and presented. They give you a flavour of what to expect at the start of your course. It won’t show all the nitty gritty details which you need to know for the course but it does present some of the key ideas. 

The CGP books aren’t a necessity but can provide you with a bit of a stepping stone onto the A Level course and I personally found them quite beneficial. 

Overall, this prereading should not take you more than a couple of days. Use the rest of the summer to truly relax and unwind. Do not overdo any reading materials or stress about learning anything. 

The A Level course is intense and it is far from easy - regardless of how intelligent you may be. It will require you to focus solely on your academics and invest the majority of your energy into school life. Although it is ‘only’ 2 years, there is a lot to learn and a lot which will be examined at the end. It is for this reason that having a well-rested summer break now is crucial. 

Overall, try to avoid stressing about the beginning of year 12 despite having ended year 11 so abruptly. This is the beginning of a new journey and you will hopefully be supported by the institution the whole way.

Good Luck!

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