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Transitioning from GCSE to A-Level

Transitioning from GCSEs to A-Level and IB can be quite a big jump for many students. Learning styles change as teachers start to prepare you for further education and you suddenly become more independent in your studies than before.

So what does that jump look like? Keep reading to find out...

Smaller class sizes

One notable difference as you enter your final years of school is that class sizes get smaller. This means you might be expected to participate and contribute more in class. These classes are similar to a tutorial at university, so it’s a great chance to practice getting more involved in discussions, while you’re still in a comfortable setting. Just remember, the more you put in, the more you’ll get out. It’s worth spending a bit more time preparing for classes to give you more confidence to get involved in discussion and debates.

In-depth study

Most pupils study around 10 GCSE and only 4 A-Levels. As the number of subjects decreases, the detail you go into will increase as you start more in-depth study. It’s therefore not only important to pick A-Levels that you’re good at, but also that interest you. Again this is great preparation for University where you’ll be looking at one or two subjects in great detail.


Workload is certainly something that goes up when you make the jump from GCSE to A-Level. Word counts are higher and the level of detail and understanding expected of you in your subjects also increases. You’ll also be expected to start structuring your own analysis and arguments in essays and exams, which might mean additional reading outside of class.

Independent learning

Self-led learning is something you really start to practice at A-Level, which will be an invaluable skill once you start university. Not only will you be expected to develop your own arguments and opinions, but you’ll also have more control over your time. A-Level timetables give you free periods, and it’s up to you to use them wisely! It’s a good idea to get into the habit of using this time to prepare for class and get a head start on homework and reading.

Starting a new school

Many people choose to move schools for A-Level which brings with it a few more challenges – new location, new friends and for some entering a mixed learning environment for the first time. It might be overwhelming at first, so go easy on yourself and seek out some support if you need it – before it gets too much.

University applications

One thing most A-Level students are working towards is university applications. You’ll have to start thinking about subjects and location quite early on in your A-Level studies. Something else to note is that when preparing your application, universities will not only be looking at your academic achievements but also extra-curricular. If you haven’t already, this is a great time to take on some extra responsibilities, such as a perfect position, and put some time into developing your interests outside the classroom that will make your application stand out.

If you would like some support in A-Level course selection and/or sixth form college or school applications, please contact Carfax Education today: or +971 4438 5276


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