My Year 12 Experience & My Tips For Those Starting Sixth Form This Year



 I have a different type of post for you guys today, it won't appeal to everyone, but may help others, I hope this is ok!

So last September (2014) I started at a brand new school, after finishing my GCSEs, to study my Alevels. I chose to move school for Sixth Form as my old school did not offer the subjects I wanted to do for the next stage in my education. So I chose a school that specialised is Art, as my most wanted subject to study was Textiles. Changing school meant leaving my comfort zone and everyday routine and replacing it with something entirely new. I had to make new friends, get used to different teaching methods and settling into a new environment. This was a challenge at times, as I also was beginning an important step-up from GCSE into A-level standards. I'm quite a quiet person and what some may say 'shy' person in new environments, but in all honesty I 100% do NOT regret taking that step into a new school! I've made so many new friends and now, after finishing my first year of Sixth Form, I look back and think how I had no reason to be so nervous about starting at a new school and taking A-levels. If I hadn't done so, I wouldn't have met my new friends, and I wouldn't cherish seeing my friends from my old schools as much as I do now! I was also extremely lucky to be starting at this new school with my friend, meaning I was not facing the journey entirely on my own.

The actual jump from GCSE to A-level is SO much bigger than I had anticipated, I remember getting my first Mock Results back in December and being really disappointed with my grades, as at GCSE I was getting Bs and As in these subjects, yet I'd got Ds and Es in these, it was then I realised I needed to work hard, and it wasn't going to a year I couldn't just cruise through. I chose subjects that I quite enjoy and so that really helped when it came to revising for my exams in May.

The subjects I chose at the beginning of the year were:
English Literature
English Language
Media Studies

The Subjects I took exams in were:
English Literature
Media Studies

About 4 weeks into my Sixth Form Studies, I began to feel very uneasy and stressed over English Language, which had caused me to become very upset in the evenings and after my lessons. I felt as though I couldn't carry this course on until the end of the year and so after a few discussions with my family and school, I dropped the subject and took up Sociology instead. I am so glad I did! Even though there are some aspects I do not like,I enjoyed the year much more, and my stress levels decreased until the Summer exam season. The support and help I was given when changing subject was fantastic, it was great to know I had people there for support when I needed it.

As I took two very demanding subjects (Lit, and textiles), balancing my time between the coursework (and reading for Lit) was difficult at times. I felt myself becoming distracted from my focus, sometimes prioritising other things irrelevant than the work I should be doing. English Literature requires you to do a huge amount of wider reading (reading additional books from your set texts) as well as the set texts, which I struggled with a lot! I probably shouldn't admit this, but spark notes was my saviour for that year- giving me a summary of the sections I missed and the wider reading I should have done! My number tip for those of you planning on studying AS Level English Literature: make sure you read all what you are told to read!

I began revising for my exams around 4 weeks before my first exam for my first exam. i would have started before, however they came around so quick, I hadn't realised. I did however find, this was enough time to revise for that exam thoroughly, as when it came to the exam i felt prepared. However, the subject that exam was for had two exams. I revised for the second exam in a week. not something I would recommend doing as it leads to cramming, which doesn't work for everybody! I did however cover most of the material for the exam, and was lucky to be examined on the stuff I had revised, as well as a small amount of material was wasn't so confident on, but they were only worth a couple of marks.


  • From the moment you start your first lesson, to the minute you finish your last lesson of the year, pay as much attention as possible, as even if you stop for a minute or two, you could miss crucial information. I found this out when I came to revise for part of an exam, and found I had never heard of a few facts, despite being taught it.  
  • Sixth Form Study requires a huge amount of independent study, something I took a while to get used to. Practise this from the beginning the year so you get into the habit of it. 
  • Find the best revision method for you by trying different methods when revising for the mocks, so when it comes to revising for the real thing, you are prepared and will take in everything you study.
  • I found the best way to understand something you are confused about or stuck on, is to ask a friend who's studying the same subject, as they will probably be able to give you their opinion and you may even be able to help them. 
  • If you're not enjoying a subject, find out why, and sort it out. There's no point suffering in silence either, talk to someone you trust about it- they'll be more than happy to help. 
  • Don't be disheartened by a not so great grade, its an understanding of where you need to focus, and you can always improve
  • Try to enjoy your year, and not get too over-loaded with the work! 
  • If you don't want to do A-levels, or you start and know they are 1000% not for you, there are plenty of other options you can take, such as apprenticeships or college.
  • Pick subjects you enjoy
Hope this has helped those of you who are starting Year 12 soon or are thinking of choosing the Sixth Form route after GCSEs. If not, I hope you've enjoyed reading about my progression from GCSE to A-Levels. 

I'd love to hear from those of you who have also just finished year 12 - how did you find it, did you experience it differently, what tips would you give to those about to start their A-Levels? 

Good Luck to those who are getting their results in August! I'm sure you'll all do AMAZING!

Love Emily x 

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