A Level Studies – Mind the Gap

In a previous blog, we talked about crossing the chasm between primary and secondary school. A large change which often remains unmentioned is the transition from GCSE to A Level studies. This step up should come with its own warning sign such as Change Ahead. Or maybe Mind the Gap.


Up to the commencement of GCSE exams, secondary school pupils have a full timetable. No thought is required about where to be, when to be there or planning one’s school day. A student simply receives a timetable and that’s that, save for an extraordinary event. That’s around 25 hours of lessons which can be attended in the same room, with the same teacher, every week on autopilot. At least in getting there, hopefully not in the actual lesson!

If we compare that timetable with what the world of A Levels, it’s easy to see why it can come as quite a shock to the system!

If one is studying for 3 or 4 A Levels, there will be 4 to 5 hours of in-school study per subject each week and life is considerably less structured. This is especially true if taking 3 subjects.

Without a plan, it’s easy for that ‘spare’ time to simply evaporate. It’s fun to hang out with peers, to catch up, chat or compare notes. And yet this is not making use of time that is there for a reason.

When not in a structured lesson environment, it should all be about independent study. It’s not only about keeping up with coursework and homework, it’s also about getting ahead of the game.

Reading up on what’s to come, writing up lab reports, making a start on activities such as the EPQ are just the start.

Independent study time is also the ideal space for addressing shortfalls in knowledge and understanding and where getting help can make all the difference.

All too often students that are confused, take comfort in the fact that their peers are also confused, rather than getting to the heart of the issue! Mass confusion now impacts upon future learning and ultimately, upon exam grades!

This is why each academic year I set aside several slots during the day to ensure that I have availability for A Level students that require additional tuition.

This extra support ensures not only a thorough understanding of the subject at hand but extends into greatly enhanced confidence. In the second year of A Levels, thorough revision and exam preparation sets the scene for a confident student to maximise grades.

The 2 years of A Level studies flies by and it’s never to early to plan for success.