Well, the title of this blog says ‘GCSEs to Sixth Form’ but… if you’re starting Sixth Form or college this September, you won’t actually have sat any GCSE exams.
You might feel like you’re in a bit of a limbo state and unsure of what to do or where to go from here. The transition from your secondary school life to further education is more important this year than it has been any other year. It’s an exciting yet challenging time.
The first thing to look at is your application to your various colleges/ sixth forms. Make sure you know what they expect of you on results day. Information should have been emailed out to you or on their website.
Something which many students are worried about this year is not being prepared enough for their A Level/ IB courses starting this autumn.
This is a valid concern as you won’t have had that period of consolidating your GCSE knowledge during the Year 11 summer term. But what you can do is make sure to have finished the GCSE courses for the subjects which you’ll be studying further. You don’t need to look at exam technique because A Level exam technique is significantly different, but do look at the content. Particularly in subjects like the Sciences; A Levels are a build on GCSE knowledge.
Once you’re up to date with your GCSE work, look to see if you have been set any ‘transition work’ from your sixth form/college. It’s worth having a look at it and having a go. It’s not usually compulsory to do it but it can give you a small taster of what to expect in September.
To really be successful during your A Level years you will need to be prepared to dedicate a significant amount of your time and energy. You will have to develop new study habits (despite however organised you may have been during your GCSEs), become resilient and prepared for setbacks and challenges. You will also discover new opportunities, make new friendships which will last a lifetime and make choices about your future.
Alongside being prepared academically to begin September, it’s worth considering practicalities.
Look into transport - how will you get in and out of college/ sixth form? With Covid-19 still very much prevalent in society, what measures will you be taking to ensure your own safety? Will you be taking public transport? Do you need to stock up on face coverings?
Consider your work space. Will libraries be open for you to work in? If not, have you got a suitable working environment at home? You might have to create a work space before the new academic year begins. From September, you will have to dedicate yourself to your studies so you need to try and minimise any distractions or things which can interfere with your studies.
Overall, it’s crucial to be open minded to what the next step in your education will be like. It might feel extremely difficult at first - especially settling into a new environment. You might settle in really well, but find the academic side difficult. Whatever you’re struggling with, make sure to discuss it with the people around you; because you’re not alone. A problem shared is a problem halved.
“The factors which determine students’ A Level success are
their habits, routines, attitudes and approaches to study. Paul
Tough summarises it pretty neatly in the following observation.
It is your behaviours, not your intelligence, that will determine
your results: “Economists refer to these as non-cognitive skills,
psychologists call them personality traits, and the rest of us
sometimes think of them as character.”
(Oakes & Griffin, ‘A Level Mindset’, 2017)
Good luck on this next step of your journey!