Year 11 AAA to Sixth Form Transition FAQ
1: What advice would you give on how I can prepare for Sixth Form?
Anmol: Familiarise yourself with the topics and general structure of your subjects. I wouldn’t recommend going too in depth as you could confuse yourself with all the new concepts.
Dan: Complete the induction tasks, even the optional ones, as they will support the early days of your studies in Year 12 and help your teachers get to know you better. The link to the Induction Tasks can be found here.
Jess: Use this time wisely and keep a routine. I would also say make sure you get folders for each of your subjects and plan in advance how you will file away your notes for each topic. For science subjects I recommend the A Level CGP guides.
Lucy: Ensure you’re confident on the subject at GCSE level. Also, if it is a new subject, learning some of the basics can help prepare for the transition to Sixth Form.
2: What can I do to get ahead in my studies?
Anmol: Begin organising your folders into the different topics so that you have a good overview of what the course will cover.
Dan: Regularly revisit your notes and create revision resources as you go along to ensure sure that your knowledge is up-to-date and save you (a lot of) time in the future.
Jess: Find out the exam boards for your subjects and print off the specifications for your subjects. This will allow you to see what you will be covering so you can plan out your revision and find practise papers, for later.
Lucy: Complete the transition tasks as they will give you a starting point. Also, start to read around your subjects and the topics that you’ll cover, as independent research is a key part to securing the top grades
3: Is the workload a big step up from GCSE and what strategies or advice do you have on managing the workload?
Anmol: It is a big step up as not only is there a lot of content but it is harder to grasp. However, it does build on your GCSE knowledge to start so it is not too daunting and will gradually increase in difficulty but by that point you will know what study methods work best for you.
Dan: Managing the workload becomes much easier if you use your studies and frees efficiently. It is easy to think you can use that time to socialise and do it at home but it is important to distinguish school as your work space and home as a more relaxed space because that will really help your mental well-being.
Jess: Plan what you are going to do in each supported study and free, to maximise the time you have. Also, plan your week and weekends for the same reasons. There is great app called 'adapt' which is free to download to your phone which makes a plan for you. It is also linked to the exam specifications so it will tell you the exact topic to cover and when, all for a time frame that you select.
Koray: The work load is manageable if you don’t let it build up or leave it until the last minute. Prioritise which work needs to be done when (particularly for those taking four A levels). I would suggest taking both due dates and how long the assignment will take you into consideration.
Lucy: There is a step up but the teachers slowly ease you into it so it’s not as much as a difference as you might think with most subjects. Getting ahead of your studies and staying organised is the best way to help with the workload.
4: What are the best revision techniques to study effectively?
Anmol: I watched this video in Year 12 and it really helped me understand how best to structure revision and make it as useful as possible.
Dan: I would recommend that you use the technique you found most useful last year, and judge its validity on the results it brings you throughout Year 12. I recommend flashcards for key terms and to revise frequently
Koray: I use past papers and exam questions, as they help consolidate your knowledge as well as giving you exam practise. Seneca Learning (an online website) is useful too, for testing knowledge recall.
Jess: Make revision resources as you go along, as it will ease stress and save you time when you come to revise. Posters can be very beneficial for certain subjects, such as case studies in Geography, as they force you to go over your notes and summarise them. It also condenses your revision notes.
5: How do you attain and maintain high grades at A level?
Anmol: Practise questions are the best way to know that you fully understand the content and can use it to form a structured answer. Also, by the marking the questions yourself, you will get familiar with how the mark scheme wants you to phrase certain answers.
Dan: Make sure that you revise throughout the year, read ahead and around the subjects, complete optional tasks set by teachers, and most importantly ensure that you finish all class work and homework to the best of your ability. You should always ask questions if you are unsure of something, and make sure that you have a good understanding of what will be expected of you within the exams themselves.
Jess: Make sure you plan your time, create revision resources as you go along and complete extra reading (which could be filed in its own folder). It is important to set aside time for yourself and to find a good school/work life balance, for your own personal well-being. You could do this by setting boundaries, for example a time limit for when you are going to finish your work or set a target of the minimal work you want to achieve that day, before stopping.
6: How do you motivate yourself to do the work?
Anmol: This can honestly be very difficult to do at times. Put your phone away. Use the pomodoro technique to study (25 mins study then 5 mins break intervals). I use an app to time this called focus keeper. This helps me concentrate for longer and more intensely without getting distracted.
I find ‘study with me videos’ on YouTube helpful, as you can essentially sit down and study knowing that someone else is as well but they can’t distract you.
Dan: It is important that you at the very least enjoy the subjects, as this will naturally motivate you to work hard.
Jess: Create good habits from the start and then you are more likely to carry them on for your time in 6th form.
Koray: I use rewards to motivate myself to do the work, such as being allowed a pot noodle after my work is completed. You could also make 'to-do lists’
7: How is day-to day life at Sixth Form different to at school?
Anmol: Even though it is difficult, I personally found sixth form to be more enjoyable than school. There are some obvious perks, for example skipping the canteen queue, no uniform and being allowed mobile phones. It is also very useful as we had skills group every week where we would learn about finance, apprenticeships, gap years and things that may be useful in the future. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved in the school that you can then mention in your personal statement, including the one hour of community service you are expected to do a week. This includes; helping in a lesson in the younger years, reading buddies, anti-bullying mentors or starting a club.
Dan: One of the biggest changes is that most people will have around two to three lessons per day, with the rest of the slots being filled up by free periods and silent studies. I cannot stress enough the importance of these periods. Avoid temptation to use it as a catch up with friends, instead maintain a good work ethic during these periods to complete work set or research further into your subjects, prepare for future lessons or respond to feedback.
Jess: A difference that you will probably notice is that as a year group you get closer as you are all in the same areas, there are less of you and classes are smaller. This also means you develop closer relationships with your teachers. Finally, I found that I was enjoying my days more because although the work load was more, it was for subjects that I chose to do because I was interested in them.
Koray: Sixth form life is a lot more relaxed compared to the secondary school experience, and as classes are often smaller you gain a closer relationship with peers and teachers. It is also more independent as you have free periods, so you can take control of your learning.
8: Is it worthwhile doing an EPQ?
Jess: I found the EPQ rewarding as it let me explore my interests outside of school and gave me a greater insight into what I wanted to study at university. It also helped advance some of my skills, for example essay writing, as it improved the quality of my research and essay structure. The EPQ also allowed me to gain a 4th qualification but with less stress and around a subject I enjoyed. Furthermore, if you are planning to go to university it can be very useful as sometimes universities will give you a lower offer, if you achieve a certain grade in your EPQ. However, you do need to ensure you are balancing your time accordingly and are well organised, as you complete the EPQ during Year 13, when you have less free time and you also have exams to prepare for.