How to prepare for moving up a course level

Congratulations! You’ve completed your exams, got your results and now you’re moving up to the next course level.

Whether you’re going from GCSEs to sixth form or college, or from A Levels to university, taking those next steps can feel daunting so we’ve put together some tips to help you prepare for moving up a course level.

Prepare yourself mentally

It’s completely normal to feel a little stressed or overwhelmed during your first few weeks of a new course. Preparing for this in advance will help you cope so before you begin

You should have chosen subjects that you find really interesting or which lead to your dream career; this will help to keep you motivated and engaged, even when the increased work may feel intimidating. If you’re starting an entirely new subject, stepping into the unknown can be scary but it’s also exciting too! Remember why you picked the course you’re taking and start looking forward to learning something new.

The way you learn is likely to change: you could have more practical work or perhaps you’ll be writing longer essays with more deadlines. Knowing and accepting these changes will help you to step into the new school year full of confidence.

Most importantly, don’t forget that asking for help is completely fine too! While it can be overwhelming during the first few weeks of a new course, you’ll also get used to the new pace of learning before you know it. Asking for advice from your fellow students or tutors can help to keep you on track and enjoying your lessons.

Start the term organised

We all know how stressful the start of term can be so getting organised in advance can make it way easier to adjust.

Even though you’ll probably be taking less subjects than ever, you’ll find that more deadlines and detailed topics within these areas mean you have just as much work as before – if not more at times!

We’d recommend getting a journal or planner to keep track of all your deadlines – whether that’s a physical journal or using the calendar app on your phone – along with separate files for each subject’s notes.

If you’re attending a sixth form college where you don’t need to be on campus for the entire school day, make sure know when all your lessons are and arrive promptly.

Use your study time wisely

Moving from GCSE to A Levels or BTECS, you’ll probably have free periods in your timetable for the first time and in university, you’ll have lots of study periods between your lectures and seminars. While all the extra free time seems exciting at first, you’ll need these to study!

By using your free periods to stay on top of your work, you’ll find it so much easier to stay on track and avoid any last-minute panicking when it comes to getting your coursework finished on time.

While your sixth form tutors will still be quite involved in your education, many university or work-based learning courses put a high level of personal responsibility on you to take the initiative and complete your work on time. Therefore by getting into this habit in sixth form or college, you’ll be preparing yourself well for university.

Push yourself to think outside the box

As your work becomes more advanced, you’ll have to become more detailed in your approach. We’d recommend really spending the time on trying to form your own views and opinions within assignments where relevant.

In more academic courses, taking in the recommended reading is essential to levelling up your answers in order to achieve the top grades. If you’re thinking of going to university, your lecturers will be looking for different ways of thinking and opinions (backed up by evidence and theories) so getting into this habit as early as possible is a great advantage.

If you’re doing a practical course or apprenticeship, being able to manage your own workload and think of solutions yourself is really important to prepare for employment.

You may be part of smaller classes now which may mean you have to participate in more open discussions and workshops. We think that keeping on top of your lesson notes from the previous week can help you to participate more fully. These discussions might be nerve wracking but they’re great for helping you remember key points from each class too!

All in all, we know that taking a step up in your education can be daunting but with a little adjustment using these tips above, we’re confident that you can absolutely smash your new chapter.


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