That’s it. It’s over. GCSES are gone and a long summer lies ahead. It’s time to spend hours lazing about and weekends having fun with friends. Some of us might get summer jobs or do work experience but one thing is for sure – we're all going to enjoy the break.
However, something else also lies ahead...
In September many of us will be starting a new chapter in sixth form. This will mean changes in friendships both old and new, taking your study to the next level and having to learn a bunch of new skills in order to adjust quickly. (Sounds like a lot of a work, I know.)
Quite a few of my friends have just finished Year 12 and they say that it is a big jump from GCSEs both academically and personally. You’ll certainly have to reflect on responsibility, time management and work ethic so let’s take a closer look at what you can do to prepare for sixth form.
Stationery + Equipment
Now, I don’t know about you but I didn’t really get properly organised until I neared the end of my GCSEs. For the majority of the course, I hunted for scattered homework booklets and hurried to lessons distraught and unorganised with worksheets fluttering about in my bag. The main game changer for me was the transition from full time lessons to study leave as it forced me to take responsibility and get my act together.
I found using digital resources a great way to keep my work in order and easily accessible. I ended up completing most of my past papers and worksheets online using a touchscreen laptop I borrowed from school. I would really recommend using an iPad or touch screen device along with a stylus as it removed the limits that come with having to print revision materials out.
Additionally, another “hack” I benefited from was using files, folders and refill pads. Before this, many of my class notes were separated by a mere paperclip, which meant a lot of my work got muddled up and this consequently led to missed homework deadlines and small catastrophes when it came to locating important documents. By using folders, I was able to effortlessly access content from different subjects and my workspace became much more organised, allowing me to think more clearly. For those transitioning to sixth form, (or even those beginning their 1st or 2nd years of GCSEs) I would highly recommend using folders to stay organised and coupling this with re-fill pads as you can easily tear pages out of the notebook and attach them to relevant areas of your binder.
Summer Reading + Super-Curricular Activities
Your school may have already sent you a reading list based on your subject choices for a-level but even if they haven’t it’s a good idea to read around your subjects. Hopefully, the subjects you have chosen genuinely interest you as you now have more control over your programme of study and there are no compulsory subjects (contrary to GCSEs).
Without the constraints of a timetable, syllabus or pressure from exams, the summer can be a great time to develop your personal interests and curiosity.
Reading is a fantastic way to build your knowledge base and get a bigger picture of the subjects you’ll be studying. But it’s not the only way to do this – visiting museums, watching documentaries, tv shows, speaking to friends and even practising skills (especially helpful for languages and maths) can greatly benefit you and enhance your learning, leaving you motivated, inspired and well prepared for sixth form.
Take Advantage of the Break
We’ve all worked incredibly hard. GCSEs aren’t easy and they were probably the most difficult and important exams you’ve taken so far (though it gets harder!). So, before anything else, taking a break and I mean a loooooooooooooooooong break – is essential. For the first couple of days of the holiday, I felt weird. I was already burnt out from months of private study and revision but when that break hit, I felt restless – and had this nagging urge to GO! GO! GO!
While being productive and proactive are skills that we all need to learn to harness, it's not how we should be functioning 24/7. Sometimes you have to force yourself to take a break, you have to put your foot down and say NO – I deserve to binge watch Netflix and lie in bed all day. I can tell you after a few days of lazing around I felt much better and a lot less tired. So bottom line – take a break and catch up on the z’s.
Use What You’ve Learned from GCSEs
The amount I’ve learned from GCSEs is unbelievable. And I’m not just talking academic stuff (because to be fair I didn’t learn a great deal in that sense) but in terms of personal development, discipline and how my brain works – it's been huge.
First and foremost, I know my limits. I know how many hours I can work before my brain starts to melt, I know when to pause and get some fresh air and I know the most effective revision methods that work for ME. Don't worry if you haven’t figured all this out yet as you’ll continue to learn along the way but simply reflecting on what you did during your GCSEs, what went well and what could’ve been done better will really help when it comes to preparing for sixth form.
If you’re stuck, you could try writing a list of five things that went well and 3-5 things that could be improved on. This could help you formulate goals and targets to enter sixth form with. Going in with the right mindset will set you apart and positively impact the start of your new chapter.
Tiffany Igharoro is a student in Y11 preparing to take her GCSE's. One of her favourite pastimes is writing as it helps her organise her thoughts creatively and dynamically. She has won awards and prizes for poetry, academic and scientific writing and short stories. Recently, she won a nationwide historical essay competition that opened her eyes to the importance of how things are told, and the impact ordinary people have on the world. She is studying art GCSE and believes there is something incredible about finding links between drama, art and maths.
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