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A-Level Tips and New Year 12 Student Experiences

Are you curious to know more about the new students at Runnymede? Are you interested in any school activities or ways to balance academics and your social life? Do you have any questions about experiencing Sixth Form? If you said “yes” to any of these, keep reading because we have the answers for you right here!

With the great number of new students in Year 12 this school year, we decided to ask them questions based on their experiences at Runnymede so far. Likewise, we interviewed a few of students who were not new, but had some helpful advice for future A-Level students.

Please describe your experience when you first started attending this school this year and how Runnymede is different from your previous school.

“I was impressed by everyone’s high academic level and by their strong work ethic, which motivated me to get out of my comfort zone and work harder myself.”

“I was a bit intimidated at first, but soon I started to get to know the teachers and other students and am now enjoying the Runnymede experience.”

“I have found an amazing group of friends I feel very comfortable with! Runnymede is a bigger school than the last one I was at, but still a good size.”

In what ways do you think your teachers have offered support and given you personal attention for your studies?

“Teachers have arranged meetings with me in order to help boost my progress and oversee the work I am doing. This has been a great benefit because I get one-on-one guidance to help improve on my weakest points.”

“Teachers offer a vast range of free extra reading, podcasts and presentations to push your learning to your next level, which is really helpful at A-level. It’s also reassuring to know that receiving help from teachers is simply one email away.”

“The teachers are always available to talk at any time and they are all extremely good at paying attention and finding a solution. Moreover, the teachers are available via email and they always try their best to respond as quickly as possible after school hours.”

Are part of any after-school activities? If so, why have you decided to participate in these?

“Drama club is always extremely fun and I enjoy spending time with some of my friends from different year groups as well as having the opportunity to act and to develop my confidence and public speaking skills.”

“Because I would like to give back to the school community and to construct an outstanding CV by the time we have to apply to university.”

What are some tips you would give younger students when selecting your A-Levels?

“Choose whatever you enjoy. Do not choose subjects based on their "importance" because there are hundreds of different university courses and all university degrees have the same value. If you choose what you enjoy and what you are good at, then you will find the work load much more manageable and the whole university process will be a lot easier.”

“Choose the A-levels that are required if you have a specific career in mind (e.g.: engineering). However, if you are still unsure about you university degree pick what you enjoy the most and what you’re genuinely interested in — while keeping your options open.”

How is the workload of A-Levels different to GCSEs?

“GCSE feels like more work in comparison to A-levels. The fact that you have more study periods means that you have more time to do your work. However, you need to be a lot more organised about your work, deciding what to do in your study periods and what to do at home.”

“At A-Levels work is much more focused, but it is also a lot more work. Make sure you make good notes from the start and are up to date with everything, because catching up is extremely complicated and having everything done avoids a lot of stress. Make sure you are organised and on top of things.”

“There are more things to do for each topic (for example, more essays), and you should be doing all your work in an in-depth manner — do not just finish your homework for the sake of it, truly understand the reason as to why you are completing it.”

How do you use your time during Free Periods?

“Normally I go to the library or a semi-empty study room and do homework or any other things I need to catch up on (such as notes).”

“I usually go to the library to study or to the art room to work on my art project, as the subject is extremely time-consuming and I have to take advantage of any free time.”

“Reading articles, doing homework, researching my personal interests.”

How do you keep a balance between academics and your social life?

“I prioritise my studies but maintain a healthy relationship with my academic life. I only go out one day a week as getting enough sleep is extremely important. I would recommend setting yourself realistic goals each day to be completed and rewarding yourself with going out with your friends once you’ve finished what you have to do.”

“Most weekends I go out with my friends and do something during an afternoon. The rest of the weekend I do sports and study. During the week I don’t go out, but do homework and maybe practice some sport.”

“I make a schedule of when I will do work and when I will complete my homework. For instance, on Fridays I normally do not plan anything so I can relax and maybe do small pieces of work, then if I plan something on Saturday, I wake up early and do as much work as I can before the evening in order to be stress-free. I aim to not leave much work, or any harder pieces of work for Sunday so I can enjoy myself and prepare everything for the start of another week.”

Any other comments?

“I would recommend new A-Level students to stay on top of their work as much as possible because merely missing one piece of homework can potentially accumulate and overload you with work. However, keep in mind that it is completely normal for your grades to not be at their best at the start of year 12. The important thing is to maintain balance and take everything one day at a time. Good luck!”

Camila G, Year 12

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