Back to advice

GCSE's to A levels - mind the gap

Friday 15 August 2014 Becoming a Student

The difference between GCSEs and A levels can be a daunting prospect. With the right frame of mind and your teacher or tutor’s help, you should be able to bridge the gap smoothly.

AS levels help to gradually move you up from year 11 so you are ready to take on your A levels, but there is still a considerable step up in the way you need to study and what the examiners and teachers expect from you.

Be prepared to drop a subject

Most students will take on 4 or 5 AS levels in year 12. This means that if you are struggling with one you can drop it by A2, and naturally your other subjects will pick up.

Although the level of detail in your subjects will be greater, there will also be a great deal of going over things you would have already covered in GCSE, it’s just a case of honing that knowledge, making it more comprehensive, or skilled.

Early January exams

AS levels can intimidate students because they have module exams as soon as January. This doesn’t give you a huge amount of time to get used to the new style of questioning and the level of answers you need to give.

However, you can retake the January exams again in the summer along with the rest of your modules. So in a way, the January exams are a good way of finding out what’s required. If you do well, great. If you don’t get what you’d hoped for, retake them in the summer.

A difference in teaching and learning style

Learning will naturally be more intense and assignments a little longer and more detailed. However, you should remember that class sizes will be considerably smaller than what you had for GCSE and as such you will get a lot more out of your lessons.

You will get a lot more face time with your tutor for one, and you will be working in a much more comfortable, open environment with people as eager to succeed as you. It will be easier to get your voice heard. Not to mention you won’t be taking on nearly as many subjects!

The step from AS level to A2 level helps

Because A levels are split into two, the step up to A2 won’t be too much of a surprise after you have completed your AS Levels.

Year 12 will be all about preparing you for your A2s as well as your AS examinations. Therefore, that final step up will seem like a natural progression from the work you were doing in year 12.