My A-Level Experience

I decided to do an overall A-Level experience post as I did a couple last year at the end of my first year of A-Levels (you can read these here and here) and they seemed to get a good response. So I thought I would do a post on my final year and my experience. This is a lengthy post so if I was you I'd get a cup of tea and make yourself comfortable!

I never did a post on my A-Level results from my first year so here is a quick overview for you all. I picked 4 A-Levels to do in my first year which were History, English Literature, Sociology and Spanish. Most people drop one of these when going into A2 which I did. I chose to drop Spanish and carry on with my other three A-Levels into the second year. Therefore I will only be discussing the grades I got in the subjects I chose to carry on. In my overall AS grades I got a B in History, a B in Sociology and a B in English Literature. For me this was a huge thing as A-Levels are so much harder than GCSEs and for me to hold onto my high grades was a massive achievement in my opinion. It took a lot of work and a lot of dedication but in my opinion the end result is completely worth it.

Moving on now into my second year experience. This year has been a roller coaster of emotions. In my first year we were still able to do January exams and for me, personally, this was a huge factor in why I got 3 Bs at AS level. I retook only one January exam but it meant that there was less pressure on me in the June. If you live in the UK you would know that the government chose to abolish January exams, this has hindered a lot of people in my year studying A-Levels. I again was lucky as two of my a-levels only had one exam due to a coursework element in the course and the other had two exams. This meant that I only had 4 exams to sit in June. A lot of my friends, however, were not this fortunate as most of them had two exams in each subject and some even had retakes from the year before. One of my friends ended up having 17 exams to sit in two months, this was mainly because he didn't revise for our AS exams so had to resit most of them! I would definitely not recommend doing that, it is so much better to put the effort in the first year and get the best grades as you can as the second year is a lot harder in comparison. 

So similarly to my A-level Experience post from last year I am going to break it down subject by subject and go through my experience for each subject. 

History A2
After having a roller coaster in my first year of A-Levels, due to the topics which had been picked for us to study alongside the teacher, I was relieved to find out that we were getting a different teacher for our second year. My teacher this year was amazing, she was also my form tutor and so I felt like I could go and talk to her about anything. She was also my history teacher for the end of GCSEs so she already knew me which I think made the whole year a lot easier for me. Unlike AS History we had one exam and one unit of coursework. This helped quite a bit as I prefer doing coursework as I feel like I can improve on my work over the amount of time whereas with exams its based on all you remember in a set time limit and how you present your knowledge. Our Coursework Unit was based around the British Empire and its demise in relation to a 100 year period. This was really interesting, it was nice learning about our country and the power it once held and how it came to lose this power. The Exam Unit was again equally as interesting it was all about the Aspects of International Relations between the years 1945-2004. This was mainly all about the Cold War and was so interesting but could be quite difficult to get your head around at some points. This was my first A-Level exam and the day before I was stressed out to the max. I was panicking the morning of the exam because I felt I had let myself down and didn't know as much as I should've. However, the exam went really well. The questions that came up were my strengths in the overall unit of work. I'm just hoping that I get at least a B at History A2. History by far has been my favourite subject to study over the last two years. I think its because I find the subject interesting and enjoy going off and doing my own research into the topics we did but also because of my classmates as well as my teacher. I do believe a good teacher definitely affects the experience one has whilst studying a-levels.

Sociology A2
Last year I found Sociology relatively easy to do and get your head around which was good seeing as I had never done the subject before. This was the only subject which I had two exams in but luckily they were my last two exams so I could just focus on sociology. Unit 3 was called Power and Control and we chose to study the Crime and Deviance module within this (you could pick from a number of modules to study). I felt relatively confident with this unit until I sat the exam. The questions weren't awful they were just what nobody was expecting and were worded in a weird way instead of directly saying what they wanted us to do. Unit 4 was about Social Inequality. This was my last exam and the one I was most worried about as I felt I didn't know the topic all that well. The exam though went really well for me, the topics that they asked us about I had revised so much the night before and came out feeling confident. I am so relieved to be finished with this subject. I really enjoyed the first year but the second year just dragged and didn't interest me as much as the first year had. But hopefully I've done enough to get the grade I need to get into University. 

English Literature A2
The course structure for A2 English Lit was similar to that of AS English Lit, it compromised of a piece of coursework and a written exam. The coursework could've gone better in my opinion. I felt like my teachers weren't supporting us enough in the coursework module. The novels we did were Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Alice Walker's The Color Purple and Charlotte Gilman's Turned. I was so excited to finally be reading Pride and Prejudice. I fell in love with the book, the style of language and of course Mr Darcy. The coursework I managed to get a B in but I wish I had been given the support off of my teachers to work that up to an A to give me the best chance. I was really worried about English Lit this year as last year we sat the exam in January and I got a B so knew exactly where I stood once we finished the coursework. However, this year the exam was a a lot different and it stressed me out the fact I wouldn't be able to resit the exam. For the exam we had to study two different texts which were Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner and Micheal Frayn's Spies alongside learning a poetry booklet. I personally really liked The Kite Runner whereas I disliked Spies. Luckily we didn't have to write about both books in our exam! The exam I felt like I was let down by my teachers as I felt like I was going in to the exam 'blind'. We hadn't been given much direction in terms of the exam and we hadn't done a full mock either which this then added to the stress of exams. I feel if I do well in the exam when I get my results it will be completely because of the amount of work I put into revision and English rather than because of my teachers. Like I have previously mentioned I think the teachers do make a massive impact but its the motivation you have to do the work and the effort you put into the subject that will allow you get the best possible grades.

My Advice

  • Be organised. This will come to benefit you when you come to revise for your June exams. Organisation is key.
  • Revise, Revise, Revise. This is the only way you will do well this year. I know people who never usually revise for exams as they always walk out with the best grades anyway but this year they have actually made an effort to revise.
  • If you don't understand anything make sure you tell your teacher as it's likely someone else doesn't understand either. At the end of your fray there job is to help you and teach you and if you don't understand something they should explain it to you.
  • DON'T STRESS! My stress personally didn't kick in until the day before my first exam. This in some ways helped me but in others caused me a lot of problems. If you do feel stressed speak to someone and if you can move yourself away from the work you are doing and take a break, meditate, watch some TV, read a blog post do something to distract you for a little while and that will calm you down.
  • Finally have fun. This is your last year at a institution like school or college after this year you will be going into the big wide world, whether that be university or going to get a full time job or something else. I've had a lot of ups and downs this year but the main thing is to make sure to make time for you outside of your studies and have fun. You need to have fun its the only thing that will keep you sane over the next year.
It's sad to think I have now finished the next step in my educational career. The past two years have gone way too quickly. I cannot believe that in September I will hopefully be going off to University for at least the next three years of my life. Because of this I will be doing a University Series over July and August consisting of posts from first applying to Universities to actually getting your results and going. So if you are interested in that there will be a University Series post going up every Thursday throughout the majority of July and August so make sure you are following this blog so you don't miss out!

If you've made it this far well done. This is a lengthy post but I don't think it would have the same affect if it was any less than this. If you have any questions feel free to comment them below or ask me on twitter which is always linked in the side bar of my blog!

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