One of the last posts in my back to school series was very popular (‘what I wish I knew when I started my A levels’) and I had a lot of people messaging me thanking me for the advice. This made me so happy so I thought to create a back to school Q&A, so it is more adapted to what people actually want to know. Most people go back to school/sixth form this week, so I thought this was perfect time to upload this back to school Q&A and answer a few questions in order to put your mind at rest. I apologise for how long this back to school Q&A is!
Advice for choosing GCSE subjects- @basicallyselina
Pick what you like! At GCSE it might feel like the end of the world if you don’t know your career, but honestly nobody knows so your options dont have *too* much impact in general. Obviously if you have a very specific career in mind (for example medicine) consider taking triple science, but apart from that the general rule of what you like and what you are good at is the best way to go about it. You want to have fun at GCSE and your option subjects take your mind off the harder ones, so its best if you enjoy them!
Are GCSE’s as scary as people make them sound? @beauty_obsessed_x _
No! However Ill be honest, GCSEs are a lot of work and it is easy to feel under pressure. Its the first set of exams that you have done so you will probably feel nervous going into them, and although you always feel nervous going into exams it does get better when you know what the process is like and what to expect. Just make sure to manage your time as best as possible and to try and spend time on the subjects you aren’t too confident on, but most importantly don’t stress too much!
What GCSE’s did you take? @beauty_obsessed_x_
I obviously took the compulsory subjects, for example science, English and maths. Then at our school we had to take French and a humanity, so I chose geography. Then for my chosen subjects I picked Art for two of my options and business for the other one. We started GCSEs in year 9, so I had three years to complete all of these courses and I came out of secondary school with 10 GCSEs in total.
Are GCSE’s stressful? @beauty_obsessed_x_
Its quite easy to have a lot to do at GCSE because its the first real time that you have a lot of schoolwork pressure, but if you organise your time and subjects it is relatively easy to get through. Just make sure that you revise as you go along and always keep up to date with your subjects in order to not fall behind. That being said, make sure you have time for yourself as well!!
How do you balance your studying and your life? @study_to_learn_xx_
This is something that I really struggle with! I either end up studying all the time, or spending too much time being social. Its so hard to balance! All I would say is if you are like me, I would make a ‘time schedule’, so you know what times you are studying and what times you are seeing your friends/relaxing etc… this makes it easier to make sure you are balancing all of your time! I also like to use the ‘rule of 8’ sometimes on days where I’m not at college and having a studying day. This is where you spend 8 hours a day sleeping, 8 hours a day doing whatever you want and 8 hours a day studying. This is really helpful to manage your time and it makes sure that you aren’t studying for 14 hours, which is often what I find myself doing by accident!
How do you organise your time equally for all subjects? @corgiistudies
Similar to balance studying and life, I use the same tips. It is hard to manage your subjects evenly because some do require more work than others. I would do all of your homework first because thats the priority, and then focus on your most difficult subjects first as they are the ones that need work! It is easy at sixth form to focus on one subject and then fall back on the others, so just keep swapping around your priorities and it will be fine. I try to have one study session a week per subject and then two on the subject that I find most difficult at that moment, and I find that this is quite effective.
Do you think that there will be big jump from first to second year A level?- Margaret Wilson
I am going into my second year of sixth form now so I can’t answer this with experience, but I am going to predict that it will be harder. Purely because there will be a lot more work and a lot more to revise/remember for the exams. Pair that with the pressure of university applications and I’m thinking it will be quite a stressful year. However the saving grace is that we already know the sixth form and our teachers, so there is nothing changed in that sense. Remember when you had your first day at sixth form and didn’t know anyone? Now you have a good group of people around you (both students and teachers) so you have support network for when the workload does get too much! I think next year is going to be good despite the extra work.
What subjects did you take at A level? @bethxkate
I am taking economics, business, geography and sociology. I love and would recommend them all!
How did you manage the workload that you get given at sixth form? @rubyomaraholt
This was asked a lot for the back to school Q&A too, and my biggest tip is to stay organised!! Prioritise your time and make sure that you do work in your frees if you need to. It is quite strange when doing work at sixth form and quite hard to get used to, as the majority of work you do is not actually set by the teachers and instead independent reading etc. Make sure that you know what you need to do and then break up your time, but also make sure that you have some time to spend with your friends as well. It is easy to feel out of your depth at sixth form but only doing work 24/7 will drain you and you need to be social!
Do you think using folders or notebooks are better for work?
I love stationary and there is such a good feeling when you buy all new stationary for a school year! My essentials would be a lever arch file per subject that you will leave at home, and also a day folder per subject that you take in your bag. This means that you put your essential papers in a day folder and it saves you lugging around lots of lever arch files that will get so heavy. I prefer paper and folders so it is easier to move things, there is a lot of content for sixth form so I feel like notebooks would get very full very quickly. I would also recommend a planner or diary of some kind.Some people use their phones but I am the kind of person that likes pen and paper, so I have a bullet journal. I won’t go on too much about it because I have already done a post (click here) but I couldn’t live without it at college. Although if you don’t want to make it yourself, a regular academic diary will be completely fine.
I am thinking of doing a post on how I make effective notes, and how I store all of my revision so if that is something you are interested in, please let me know!
What do you do during frees, where do you go?
I had few people asking this for the back to school Q&A, and Its up to you! Most people either go to the cafe, the hub (which is basically a common room) or the library. However there are plenty of places to sit and see friends, there aren’t ‘set’ places to go as such and instead you can do whatever you like. If you have a long day, you can go home and come back, or you can walk into town or to some shops that are nearby. Obviously I know that every sixth form is different and I am just talking about my own experience, but I have found that it is so chilled and nobody really minds where you go. I often spend the majority of my time in the hub (common room) as there are always plenty of people to chat to and it isn’t too quiet like the library is (I find it very hard to work in silence).
Are the teachers nice or do they come across strict?
They are so nice, I don’t think I have ever come across a strict teacher at sixth form. They actually treat you like adults the majority of the time and there is a lot more mutual respect, which I love. You call teachers by their first names (hard to get used to) and this makes everything more relaxed. I could go and speak to my teachers about anything and they wouldn’t mind, honestly I couldn’t rave about my teachers enough. 🐟
Did you find it hard to make new friends?
Not at all, I did keep my friendship group so I wasn’t really ‘forced’ into making new friends, but this year I have met so many people who I class as close friends now that I didn’t even know a year ago, even my boyfriend I met at college and I didn’t know him before I moved to sixth form. Everyone is in the same boat and you end up talking to people in lessons and in your frees, and it is so easy to find people with common interests. Now you are at sixth form everyone in your subjects actually like the subjects so most of the time you already have something in common, so thats good! Just make sure to talk to as many people as you can and I’m sure you will be absolutely fine.
I hope that back to school Q&A this has helped some people and have put your mind at rest, particularly if you are moving to sixth form this week. Its a scary time but just immerse yourself in everything and I am sure that you will love it. If you need any more advice feel free to message me on my social media, or check out this post for more information (what I wish I knew when I started my A levels). Thank you to everyone who featured on this back to school Q&A and helped me out, I really appreciate it!