Adapting to life in 6th form

Here are some great tips from the telegraph to help your young adults adapt to life as a sixth former.

Exams are over. In a few short months you’ll be starting sixth-form. But what can you expect? Certainly the days of being drip-fed your curriculum are over, now ‘reading around the syllabus’ is an activity you’ll have to give serious thought to.

You’ll most likely be handed an independence never before experienced in education; free periods, lunches outside school, and the ability to choose your next direction in life.

But take it from one who has just spent a year navigating the system, it isn’t all roses.

Here’s what else you can expect from sixth form.

1. It passes VERY quickly

After six years of primary school and another five of secondary school, lessons can seem like quite a drag. After all, you’ve been in education for the best part of your life. However, it’s a different story when you start college or sixth form. The two years speed by faster than you’d expect, probably because of the sudden change.

If you like things to move fast, then this won’t be a problem, but if you would prefer to feel like you’re actually making the most of sixth form, try to create as many memories as possible within the two years. Just don’t let your revision suffer.

2. Sleep will be your new best friend

Most of us had bedtimes of around 10.30pm in secondary school and, probably, a few sleepless nights towards the end of Year 11 during exams. But sixth form is a different story, mainly due to the workload and your work life balance.

Going out with your friends on Saturday and then coming back home to revise or do some coursework is very tiring. ‘Taking a nap’ may well become a daily occurrence; just make sure you don’t sleep through to the next day, wake up at 7am and realise you’ve done nothing.

In sixth form, sleep is what keeps you going, even if you get no work done. Of course, this isn’t ideal, so try your hardest to limit the time you spend out and about, to make sure you have time to revise and get work done.

3. You and your new best friend will spend no time together (sleep, that is)

Contradictory to the previous point, you and your new best friend (sleep) may spend less and less time together as the months progress; mostly down to the all-nighters and early rising just to meet deadlines

Your relationship with sleep will meet some rocky roads and you’ll have to fight the urge to nap in class if you didn’t sleep the night before.  However, the solution to this is, once again, organisation, and completing work as soon as it is set.  Believe me, it will be better in the long run.

4. It will probably be the craziest two years of your life

Now this point can be good for some and bad for others. University will be stressful, there’s no doubt about that; but sixth form and college are another story. Not only do you have to make sure you’ve picked the right subjects (which is tricky enough), you have to ensure that these subjects will lead you down the right path and get you on the right career later on in life.

Then you have personal statements, Ucas applications, community service, and maybe even a job. This is the definition of crazy. So many things happen at the same time and they all have to be done and dusted in the space of two years.

It may sound like a long time, but we’ve already established that it will fly by. The best way to deal with this craziness is to keep on top of your deadlines, take time to relax and plan your next steps thoroughly.

5. Your first E will make you or break you

At some point, you’ve probably heard someone say “the jump between GCSE and A-level/the IB/BTEC is huge”. They weren’t lying. At A-level specifically, an E grade is a pass. This demonstrates just how hard it will be.

If we’re being honest here, at some point during the two years there will be a test that you take, probably after a night of socialising, and you may just get that E

While it might be a pass, most people don’t like the sound of it. So, you have two options: you could use this grade as a reason to give up, or you could use it as motivation to work harder and get a C/ B or A next time, which will be a huge achievement. I’d choose the latter.

6. Past papers really are the best way to prepare for exams

There are loads of revision materials on the internet and available to buy online, but one method in particular stands out, especially when you’re preparing for your final exams.

Every sixth form or college student should get into the habit of answering practice questions, from textbooks and from websites online. However, you  should leave past papers until the last week or two before the exam, at which point you should do one every day until the day of the actual exam. This will help you see where you are still going wrong in certain topics before it’s too late.

7. You’re all in the same boat

Finally, you have to keep in mind that everyone in your year group is in the same boat as you.

You’re all getting the same lessons and you’re all sitting the same exam. This is quite comforting, as knowing you’re not alone may encourage you to start revising with friends.

In fact, setting up group chats for each subject is a great idea. You can share notes, help out with work and therefore revise more efficiently. This will ensure you survive the madness of sixth form and move onto the next stepping stone of your life with energy still in the tank.

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